The former Justice Department official who allegedly plotted with President Trump on a DOJ election intervention has now also been accused of politicizing the department’s hiring process on his way out the door.
Jeffrey Clark, who served as the acting head of the DOJ civil division at the end of Trump’s term, is alleged by whistleblowers to have improperly intervened in the hiring of an attorney for a top career post in the division. The whistleblower letter, which was reported by NPR, said that he selected for the position an attorney with significantly less experience than the other candidates. The whistleblowers suggest Clark promoted that attorney over the others because the attorney had previously volunteered to assist in a politically charged anti-abortion case.
In the case, the Trump administration was seeking to block abortions for unaccompanied immigrant minors who were pregnant. The administration’s anti-abortion policy was blocked by court.
The promotion in question was announced two days before Clark left the department, according to the whistleblower report. Their letter was sent by the whistleblowers’ attorney to House and Senate committees with DOJ oversight, as well as to the department’s inspector general and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (an agency that’s separate from the special counsels that are appointed by the DOJ).
The whistleblowers allege that Clark took the lead of the final stages of the hiring process, even though DOJ policy at the time tasked his deputy with the hiring of the particular position in question. Clark participated in the final round of interviews, according to the letter, and his interviews with the two final candidates that were ultimately passed over were “perfunctory” in nature. Clark used a timer to time the 15-minute interviews and “was not particularly engaged,” the whistleblowers alleged.
“Mr. Clark abused his authority by injecting himself into the career staff promotion process — contrary to established and recently-revised protocols — by acting with only days left on the job, by running a sham selection process, by choosing the least experienced finalist who had already been passed over, and by selecting the one and only candidate who volunteered to defend one of the Trump administration’s most controversial policies,” the whistleblower report said.
The report acknowledged that Clark’s deputy, another political appointee, denied that improper considerations were at play and claimed that the winning candidate was selected because of their “strong” interview with Clark. A top career supervisor in the division also did not believe the hiring was politically motivated, according the letter, but the supervisor “admitted to being nothing more than a bystander in the selection process.”
Clark’s conduct at the department in the administration’s final months was already under scrutiny because of his reported willingness to go along with President Trump’s schemes for overturning the election. When other DOJ leaders balked at having the department promote baseless claims of fraud in battleground states, Clark reportedly discussed with Trump a plan to oust the acting attorney general and put Clark in charge of the department. The plan was ultimately abandoned and the DOJ inspector general is investigating the matter.
Clark, who could not be reached by TPM for comment on the whistleblower report, had previously pushed back on the reports of his election scheming, but he has not provided details on why those reports were supposedly inaccurate.
Read the whistleblowers’ letter below: