A former Justice Department official and steadfast Donald Trump ally is being hit with ethics charges for his plot to make use of the department to attempt to throw out legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election.
Trump considered making Jeffrey Clark — a former environmental lawyer within the DOJ’s Civil Division — acting attorney general after William Barr quit in order that Clark could go forward with a plan to control the election results.
Clark wrote a draft letter on Dec. 28, 2020, which then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone called a “murder-suicide pact.” It made false claims that the Justice Department had discovered election fraud in several states.
Clark also outlined a plot to rearrange for state legislatures to send fake electors to Congress to disrupt certification of the legitimate vote, which Joe Biden had won, in keeping with a document filed Tuesday by the District of Columbia Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
Hamilton P. Fox III, the disciplinary counsel for the D.C. Bar, has charged Clark with attempting to have interaction in dishonest conduct and “conduct that might seriously interfere with the administration of justice” for his actions, in keeping with the filing.
Clark’s draft letter was addressed to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and numerous federal lawmakers.
Clark repeatedly pressured Jeffrey Rosen, who was then acting attorney general, and Richard Donoghue, the acting deputy attorney general, to sign and send the letter, in keeping with the bar grievance. Donoghue and Rosen each refused and threatened to quit if the letter was sent, they usually warned at a Jan. 3 meeting that there can be mass resignations if it got here to that.
“That letter that this guy [Clark] desires to send — that letter is a murder-suicide pact,” Cipollone told Trump, in keeping with a transcript of Donoghue’s interview with the House select committee investigating the actions surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. “It’s going to wreck everyone who touches it. And we should always don’t have anything to do with that letter.”
But Trump desired to know: “What do I even have to lose? If I do that, what do I even have to lose?’” Donoghue recounted to members of the Jan. 6 panel.
Donoghue said he replied: “Mr. President, you will have an excellent deal to lose. Is that this really how you wish your administration to finish? You’re going to harm the country.”
Donoghue also attacked Clark, who wanted Trump to call him attorney general, as someone who was woefully unqualified for the post and who was grabbing half-baked election fraud theories off the web to butter up Trump.
“He’s never been a criminal attorney. He’s never conducted a criminal investigation in his life. He’s never been in front of a grand jury, much less a trial jury,” Donoghue said he told Trump.
To Clark he said derisively, in keeping with Donoghue’s deposition: “How about you return to your office, and we’ll call you when there’s an oil spill.”
Federal law enforcement authorities searched Clark’s Virginia home last month. He sat for a deposition with the House panel in January but cut it short. After the House select committee then voted to hold Clark in contempt of Congress, he later appeared before the panel but repeatedly asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, CNN reported. His testimony has not been released.
Clark couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. But a spokesperson for the Center for Renewing American, where Clark is a senior fellow, called him a “hero” for attempting to throw out American voters’ alternative for president.
“That is the most recent attack on the legal qualifications of one among the one lawyers on the DOJ who had the interests of the American people at heart,” said spokesperson Rachel Semmel.
Clark has 20 days to answer the accusations, in keeping with the filing Friday. He and his lawyers can present evidence in his defense and cross-examine witnesses. If he loses, he could possibly be stripped of his law license.