“America is about to meet Jeffrey Clark, the one DOJ official willing to do Trump’s coup”

Ben Jacobs for Vox:

Much of what we know about Clark’s actions comes from a deposition from his former colleague Richard Donoghue, who was also acting assistant attorney general. Clark first approached his boss, acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, in late December 2020. Clark reached out to Rosen on December 28 for permission to get a briefing on whether China could control Dominion voting machines via smart thermostat and a draft letter for the Department of Justice to send to key Georgia officials asking them to block certification of the state’s election results. This letter was a model, which, if approved, could be sent to other key states won by Biden as well. Rosen rebuffed him.

However, Clark then went around Rosen, directly to Trump. The Justice Department official had been connected to the then-president by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), the head of the hard-right Freedom Caucus and one of Trump’s most ardent supporters on Capitol Hill.

In a dramatic Oval Office meeting featuring Trump, Clark, and top lawyers from the Justice Department and the White House counsel’s office, Clark urged the president to give him his moment in the sun.

“History is calling. This is our opportunity. We can get this done,” Clark said, according to the deposition by Donoghue. Everyone else in the meeting is said to have pushed back against Clark’s attempt to take control of the DOJ. Donoghue, along with Steve Engel, another top DOJ official appointed by Trump, said they would resign if Trump replaced Clark with Rosen.

Donoghue, by his own account, went on to threaten the specter of mass resignations if Trump went through with his plot. “And we’re not the only ones. You should understand that your entire department leadership will resign. … You could have mass resignations amongst your US attorneys. And then it will trickle down from there; you could have resignations across the Department. And what happens if, within 48 hours, we have hundreds of resignations from your Justice Department because of your actions?”

This was echoed by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who, according to Donoghue, said at one point in the meeting, “Well, I’m not going to stand for this, I’m not going to be here if it happens either.”

Donoghue said he then denigrated Clark’s legal abilities, telling Trump, “Jeff Clark is not even competent to serve as the attorney general.” After Clark protested and insisted that he was up for the task, Donoghue says he essentially told him to go home and get his shine box.

“That’s right,” retorted Donoghue. “You’re an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we’ll call you when there’s an oil spill.”

Eventually, Trump blinked. Although he made complaints to Rosen and Donoghue like “You two haven’t done anything” and “Everyone says I should fire you,” he didn’t follow through on his plan to elevate Clark. He announced at the end of the meeting that he was going to let it go. Clark’s moment had passed.

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