A Democratic senator said on Sunday it’s possible that former President Donald Trump wasn’t “pulling the strings” regarding a scheme to replace the Justice Department’s top official with someone loyal to him who was willing to be more aggressive in challenging the results of the 2020 election.
The results of an interim report on an investigation into the matter that is being conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee was discussed by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday regarding allegations Trump was behind the alleged plan.
Trump stands accused of wanting to replace his then-acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, with Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official who created a proposal to intervene in Georgia’s certification process while also casting aspersions on the election results in other states.
In the end, Trump did not fire Rosen after he was informed during a meeting in early January in the Oval Office that White House counsel Pat Cipollone and top Justice Department officials would quit if he opted to pursue the strategy, the 394-page report, based in part on documents and testimony from former officials, notes.
In his interview with host Chuck Todd, Whitehouse said investigators have “a very complete picture of the extent to which Trump was personally involved in this,” while pointing out that the former president’s outreach to election officials in Georgia is the subject of a separate investigation to determine if he and his allies violated any state laws.
That said, Whitehouse noted that it’s unclear who actually came up with the Justice Department “scheme,” while he also deliberated on who may have funded it.
“What we don’t know is who was really behind this,” Whitehouse told Todd. “The text of the transcript and the body English of the witnesses suggests that they had very little regard for this character Jeffrey Clark, who was nominally going to be the new attorney general. They doubted his qualifications to even have that role.
“So, it’s a possibility, I suppose, that he saw this moment and grabbed it, but it’s an equally real possibility that he was a cog in a larger machine, and we’ve got a lot of work to do to figure out how that machine ran through this period, who was behind it, where the money came from, and what’s been going on,” Whitehouse noted further.
Pressing, Todd responded, “And you think it’s somebody other than Donald Trump? I mean — you know, when I hear that, you’re essentially saying you believe there’s somebody else involved, somebody else was pulling the strings. Who could that be besides Donald Trump?”
Whitehouse said that Senate investigators who are also working with the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 are not sure about that just yet.
“We don’t know yet, but, you know, this guy jumped to a dark money enterprise. So, he’s been taken care of, Jeffrey Clark. There was a lot of activity around this with members of Congress. There’s just a lot left to be learned,” the Rhode Island Democrat noted further.
Clark headed up the DoJ’s civil division during Trump’s administration; after leaving, he was hired by the New Civil Liberties Alliance as chief of litigation and strategy director for the conservative organization. He has refused to provide testimony after the Judiciary chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked the D.C. Bar Association to probe Clark.
Meanwhile, a Republican report says that available evidence clearly shows that Trump took the advice of his senior advisers and didn’t task the DoJ with overturning President Biden’s victory.
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