A Trump loyalist in the Justice Department asked his superiors to sign a letter that would cast doubt on the presidential election results in Georgia. We’ve heard more than a few times about the various ways former President Trump tried to interfere with and overturn the election results of 2020, but newly-reviewed emails show how Jeffrey Clark, a high-ranking official in the Department of Justice was allegedly attempting to help Trump’s cause.
ABC News reviewed DOJ emails from December 28, 2020 that show Clark, the former acting head of the DOJ’s civil division and someone considered a Trump loyalist, circulating a draft letter. Here’s part of the letter from Clark. He hoped to have acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue sign off on this:
“The Department of Justice is investigating various irregularities in the 2020 election for President of the United States,” the draft letter said. “The Department will update you as we are able on investigatory progress, but at this time we have identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia.”
The draft letter states: “While the Department of Justice believe[s] the Governor of Georgia should immediately call a special session to consider this important and urgent matter, if he declines to do so, we share with you our view that the Georgia General Assembly has implied authority under the Constitution of the United States to call itself into special session for [t]he limited purpose of considering issues pertaining to the appointment of Presidential Electors.”
The emails were provided by the DOJ to the House Oversight Committee as it investigates efforts by Trump and his supporters to overturn election results. The DOJ is also looking into whether any officials inside the department aided such efforts.
The full letter can be viewed here.
That section is alarming because the Justice Department had at that point uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the presidential election. To date, there has been no evidence of any substantial wrongdoing related to the 2020 election, despite the former president’s continued lies saying otherwise. Even then-Attorney General William Barr, considered at that point one of Trump’s most loyal cabinet members, shot down any claims of election fraud. Barr had announced in December that the department had not seen any fraud that could have impacted the election in any way. A statewide audit of votes in Georgia also confirmed Biden’s victory, a key step in his claiming the White House.
But as these emails show, Clark apparently was not giving up on trying to help Trump overturn Georgia’s election results and prevent the certification of the votes.
To call Clark’s letter highly unusual for the Justice Department would be an understatement. Nevertheless, he attached it in an email to Rosen and Donoghue. In that email, he wrote:
“Personally, I see no valid downsides to sending out the letter.”
Donoghue saw things quite differently. He responded first to Clark with a clear refusal.
From ABC News:
"There is no chance that I would sign this letter or anything remotely like this," Donoghue said. "While it maybe true that the Department 'is investigating various irregularities in the 2020 election for President' (something we typically would not state publicly) the investigations that I am aware of relate to suspicions of misconduct that are of such a small scale that they simply would not impact the outcome of the Presidential Election."
Donoghue closed his email response by stating that, while he was available to speak to Clark directly about his request, "from where I stand, this is not even within the realm of possibility."
Donoghue also referred to then-AG Barr’s statements refuting claims of election fraud as he definitively let Clark know he would not support this attempt to interfere with the election.
Rosen would respond later, letting both Clark and Donoghue know where he stood on the matter.
“I confirmed again today that I am not prepared to sign such a letter.”
Just days after this email exchange, it was reported that Clark plotted unsuccessfully to have Trump force out Rosen and to have himself installed as acting Attorney General. Clark has denied the accusations.