Efforts to use the Department of Justice to further President Trump’s election reversal scheme are now the subject of two, potentially-explosive investigations.
Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced Monday that his office is investigating efforts to have the Justice Department “seek to alter the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election.”
The statement comes after the revelation Friday, via a report in the New York Times, that Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark worked with President Trump in a failed bid to have the department make moves aimed at attacking Joe Biden’s win in Georgia.
Around the same time as Horowitz announcement, the Senate Judiciary Committee unveiled a request for Justice Department documents linked to that episode and other apparently related gambits. The letter was signed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who is set to take over the committee’s gavel with Democrats narrow takeover of the chamber, as well as other Democrats on the committee.
Clark, who served as a division head under President Trump, pushed for the Department to send a letter or make a public announcement casting doubt on Georgia’s results, according to the Times. When his proposals were rebuffed by DOJ leadership, he then reportedly plotted with Trump to sideline the Department’s acting attorney general Jeff Rosen, though Trump ultimately bailed on a plan to fire Rosen and replace him with Clark.
Clark has pushed back on the Times’ reporting, which has been partially confirmed by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. But Clark has declined to go into any detail about what supposedly is inaccurate in the Times’ account.
Horowitz’s statement did not refer to the Clark specifically. The inspector general said the new probe will look at “any former or current DOJ official” and that it will “will encompass all relevant allegations that may arise that are within the scope of the OIG’s jurisdiction.”
As the scheme to shake-up DOJ leadership was coming to a head, the Department also pressured the U.S. Attorney in Atlanta to leave his post, as, according to the Wall Street Journal, the White House was dissatisfied with his failure to bring investigations into Trump phony election fraud theories.
An inspector general probe into the departure of the U.S. Attorney Byung “BJay” Pak was reported by the Washington Post last week, before the account of the Clark scheme became public. The Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating that incident as well, according to the Monday letter. The lawmakers asked that the requested documents be produced by Feb. 8, which is when the impeachment trial over Trump’s Jan. 6 incitement of a mob on the Capitol is scheduled to begin.
Before inciting a riot to stop certification of the election, President Trump pressured the Justice Department to advance his falsehoods and subvert our democracy.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will conduct full oversight of this misconduct. pic.twitter.com/R2hePctPFq
— Senator Chris Coons (@ChrisCoons) January 25, 2021
President Trump’s attempts to hijack the Justice Department for his election reversal crusade also included a demand that the Department file a lawsuit at the Supreme Court to challenge the results, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Read the full statement from the inspector general below:
The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is initiating an investigation into whether any former or current DOJ official engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election. The investigation will encompass all relevant allegations that may arise that are within the scope of the OIG’s jurisdiction. The OIG has jurisdiction to investigate allegations concerning the conduct of former and current DOJ employees. The OIG’s jurisdiction does not extend to allegations against other government officials.
The OIG is making this statement, consistent with DOJ policy, to reassure the public that an appropriate agency is investigating the allegations. Consistent with OIG policy, we will not comment further on the investigation until it is completed. When our investigation is concluded, we will proceed with our usual process for releasing our findings publicly in accordance with relevant laws, and DOJ and OIG policies