Donald Trump pressured elected officials in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia to overturn election results in their states.
Georgia seems to have been of particular interest to Trump, where he pressured the Republican Secretary of State and Governor. Trump Call to Georgia Official Might Violate State and Federal Law:
The call by President Trump on Saturday to Georgia’s secretary of state raised the prospect that Mr. Trump may have violated laws that prohibit interference in federal or state elections[.]
The recording of the conversation between Mr. Trump and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of Georgia, first reported by The Washington Post, led a number of election and criminal defense lawyers to conclude that by pressuring Mr. Raffensperger to “find” the votes he would need to reverse the election outcome in the state, Mr. Trump either broke the law or came close to it.
“It seems to me like what he did clearly violates Georgia statutes,” said Leigh Ann Webster, an Atlanta criminal defense lawyer, citing a state law that makes it illegal for anyone who “solicits, requests, commands, importunes or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage” in election fraud.
At the federal level, anyone who “knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a state of a fair and impartially conducted election process” is breaking the law.
More than a week before he urged the Georgia Secretary of State to overturn the election results, the president urged the state’s chief elections fraud investigator to “find the fraud.” Trump pressured Ga. elections investigator in a separate call that experts say could amount to obstruction.
Criminal investigations have already been opened. Georgia elections board member calls for probe into Trump’s call seeking to pressure Raffensperger. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said that the president’s interaction was “disturbing” and indicated a willingness to prosecute potential infractions pending further investigation. Raffensperger: Trump could face investigation over election call. “As district attorney, I will enforce the law without fear or favor. Anyone who commits a felony violation of Georgia law in my jurisdiction will be held accountable,“ said Willis, a Democrat.
Trump even forced the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia to resign and replaced him with someone he thought would “play ball” with his scheme. White House pushed top federal prosecutor in Atlanta to resign: WSJ:
The White House pushed the top federal prosecutor in Atlanta to resign before Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff because President Donald Trump was unhappy that he wasn’t doing enough to investigate Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.
The Justice Department on Tuesday tapped a new federal prosecutor to lead the Atlanta office, a day after the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, Byung J. “BJay” Pak, abruptly resigned.
Pak’s resignation drew attention because Trump appeared to refer to him in a recent phone call with Georgia’s secretary of state in which the outgoing Republican president asked state officials to try to “find” enough votes to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
In a recording obtained by numerous media outlets, Trump appeared to complain during the call about Pak without naming him, saying there was a “Never Trumper U.S. attorney” in Georgia.
The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said that at the behest of the White House, a senior Justice Department official called and told Pak he needed to step down because he was not pursuing the voter-fraud allegations to Trump’s satisfaction.
The top federal prosecutor in Savannah, Ga. — whom President Trump recently tapped to take over the U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta — has brought to his new assignment two assistants previously tasked with monitoring possible election fraud, raising fears that he might be taking steps to lend credibility to Trump’s baseless claims of electoral malfeasance, people familiar with the matter said.
The move by U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine in the waning days of the Trump administration follows unusual events this week in the federal prosecutor offices in Atlanta and Savannah that have fueled suspicions among legal observers of political interference in law enforcement work.
On Monday, Byung J. “BJay” Pak, whom Trump had appointed as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia in 2017, unexpectedly told colleagues he was stepping down. On Tuesday, officials announced that Christine would take over for Pak, bypassing Pak’s top deputy, who otherwise might have moved into the job by default.
Then, Christine tapped two assistant U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of Georgia — Joshua S. Bearden and Jason Blanchard — for some type of work in the Northern District, people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s political sensitivity. Their task is unclear, but Christine had recently assigned both to serve as district election officers reviewing complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses.
Christine did not “play ball” with Trump’s scheme. U.S. attorney in Georgia: ‘There’s just nothing to’ claims of election fraud:
The acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, whose predecessor abruptly resigned one week ago after President Trump complained officials were not doing enough to find election fraud in the state, declared on a call with his staff Monday that “there’s just nothing to” the few claims of fraud the office was examining, according to an audio recording obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
On the call, Bobby Christine, who also serves as the top federal prosecutor in the Southern District of Georgia, suggested that he was surprised to learn the office had not found significant election fraud issues.
“Quite frankly, just watching television, you would assume that you got election cases stacked from the floor to the ceiling,” Christine said, according to the Atlanta newspaper. “I am so happy to find out that’s not the case, but I didn’t know coming in.”
Now we learn that Trump’s corruption of justice to concoct a scheme to overturn the election results included the highest level of the Department of Justice. The New York Times reports, Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting Attorney General:
The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. Trump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results.
The unassuming lawyer who worked on the plan, Jeffrey Clark, had been devising ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark.
The department officials, convened on a conference call, then asked each other: What will you do if Mr. Rosen is dismissed?
The answer was unanimous. They would resign.
Their informal pact ultimately helped persuade Mr. Trump to keep Mr. Rosen in place, calculating that a furor over mass resignations at the top of the Justice Department would eclipse any attention on his baseless accusations of voter fraud. Mr. Trump’s decision came only after Mr. Rosen and Mr. Clark made their competing cases to him in a bizarre White House meeting that two officials compared with an episode of Mr. Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” albeit one that could prompt a constitutional crisis.
The previously unknown chapter was the culmination of the president’s long-running effort to batter the Justice Department into advancing his personal agenda. He also pressed Mr. Rosen to appoint special counsels, including one who would look into Dominion Voting Systems, a maker of election equipment that Mr. Trump’s allies had falsely said was working with Venezuela to flip votes from Mr. Trump to Joseph R. Biden Jr.
This account of the department’s final days under Mr. Trump’s leadership is based on interviews with four former Trump administration officials who asked not to be named because of fear of retaliation.
Mr. Clark said that this account contained inaccuracies but did not specify, adding that he could not discuss any conversations with Mr. Trump or Justice Department lawyers because of “the strictures of legal privilege.”
Mr. Clark categorically denied that he devised any plan to oust Mr. Rosen, or to formulate recommendations for action based on factual inaccuracies gleaned from the internet. “My practice is to rely on sworn testimony to assess disputed factual claims,” Mr. Clark said. “There was a candid discussion of options and pros and cons with the president. It is unfortunate that those who were part of a privileged legal conversation would comment in public about such internal deliberations, while also distorting any discussions.”
Mr. Clark also noted that he was the lead signatory on a Justice Department request last month asking a federal judge to reject a lawsuit that sought to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results of the election.
* * *
When Mr. Trump said on Dec. 14 that Attorney General William P. Barr was leaving the department, some officials thought that he might allow Mr. Rosen a short reprieve before pressing him about voter fraud. After all, Mr. Barr would be around for another week.
Instead, Mr. Trump summoned Mr. Rosen to the Oval Office the next day. He wanted the Justice Department to file legal briefs supporting his allies’ lawsuits seeking to overturn his election loss. And he urged Mr. Rosen to appoint special counsels to investigate not only unfounded accusations of widespread voter fraud, but also Dominion, the voting machines firm.
Mr. Rosen refused. He maintained that he would make decisions based on the facts and the law, and he reiterated what Mr. Barr had privately told Mr. Trump: The department had investigated voting irregularities and found no evidence of widespread fraud.
But Mr. Trump continued to press Mr. Rosen after the meeting — in phone calls and in person. He repeatedly said that he did not understand why the Justice Department had not found evidence that supported conspiracy theories about the election that some of his personal lawyers had espoused. He declared that the department was not fighting hard enough for him.
As Mr. Rosen and the deputy attorney general, Richard P. Donoghue, pushed back, they were unaware that Mr. Clark had been introduced to Mr. Trump by a Pennsylvania politician and had told the president that he agreed that fraud had affected the election results.
UPDATE: Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) played a key role in linking Trump up with people who were willing to participate in his plot to oust the acting attorney general. Pennsylvania Lawmaker Played Key Role in Trump’s Plot to Oust Acting Attorney General.
Mr. Trump quickly embraced Mr. Clark, who had been appointed the acting head of the civil division in September and was also the head of the department’s environmental and natural resources division.
As December wore on, Mr. Clark mentioned to Mr. Rosen and Mr. Donoghue that he spent a lot of time reading on the internet [QAnon?] — a comment that alarmed them because they inferred that he believed the unfounded conspiracy theory that Mr. Trump had won the election. Mr. Clark also told them that he wanted the department to hold a news conference announcing that it was investigating serious accusations of election fraud. Mr. Rosen and Mr. Donoghue rejected the proposal.
As Mr. Trump focused increasingly on Georgia, a state he lost narrowly to Mr. Biden, he complained to Justice Department leaders that the U.S. attorney in Atlanta, Byung J. Pak, was not trying to find evidence for false election claims pushed by Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and others. Mr. Donoghue warned Mr. Pak that the president was now fixated on his office, and that it might not be tenable for him to continue to lead it, according to two people familiar with the conversation.
Mr. Clark was also focused on Georgia. He drafted a letter that he wanted Mr. Rosen to send to Georgia state legislators that wrongly said that the Justice Department was investigating accusations of voter fraud in their state, and that they should move to void Mr. Biden’s win there.
Mr. Rosen and Mr. Donoghue again rejected Mr. Clark’s proposal.
On New Year’s Eve, the trio met to discuss Mr. Clark’s refusal to hew to the department’s conclusion that the election results were valid. Mr. Donoghue flatly told Mr. Clark that what he was doing was wrong. The next day, Mr. Clark told Mr. Rosen — who had mentored him while they worked together at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis — that he was going to discuss his strategy with the president early the next week, just before Congress was set to certify Mr. Biden’s electoral victory.
Unbeknown to the acting attorney general, Mr. Clark’s timeline moved up. He met with Mr. Trump over the weekend, then informed Mr. Rosen midday on Sunday that the president intended to replace him with Mr. Clark, who could then try to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College results. He said that Mr. Rosen could stay on as his deputy attorney general, leaving Mr. Rosen speechless.
Unwilling to step down without a fight, Mr. Rosen said that he needed to hear straight from Mr. Trump and worked with the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, to convene a meeting for early that evening.
Even as Mr. Clark’s pronouncement was sinking in, stunning news broke out of Georgia: State officials had recorded an hourlong call, published by The Washington Post, during which Mr. Trump pressured them to manufacture enough votes to declare him the victor. As the fallout from the recording ricocheted through Washington, the president’s desperate bid to change the outcome in Georgia came into sharp focus.
Mr. Rosen and Mr. Donoghue pressed ahead, informing Steven Engel, the head of the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel, about Mr. Clark’s latest maneuver. Mr. Donoghue convened a late-afternoon call with the department’s remaining senior leaders, laying out Mr. Clark’s efforts to replace Mr. Rosen.
Mr. Rosen planned to soon head to the White House to discuss his fate, Mr. Donoghue told the group. Should Mr. Rosen be fired, they all agreed to resign en masse. For some, the plan brought to mind the so-called Saturday Night Massacre of the Nixon era, where Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson and his deputy resigned rather than carry out the president’s order to fire the special prosecutor investigating him.
The Clark plan, the officials concluded, would seriously harm the department, the government and the rule of law. For hours, they anxiously messaged and called one another as they awaited Mr. Rosen’s fate.
Around 6 p.m., Mr. Rosen, Mr. Donoghue and Mr. Clark met at the White House with Mr. Trump, Mr. Cipollone, his deputy Patrick Philbin and other lawyers. Mr. Trump had Mr. Rosen and Mr. Clark present their arguments to him.
Mr. Cipollone advised the president not to fire Mr. Rosen and he reiterated, as he had for days, that he did not recommend sending the letter to Georgia lawmakers. Mr. Engel advised Mr. Trump that he and the department’s remaining top officials would resign if he fired Mr. Rosen, leaving Mr. Clark alone at the department.
Mr. Trump seemed somewhat swayed by the idea that firing Mr. Rosen would trigger not only chaos at the Justice Department, but also congressional investigations and possibly recriminations from other Republicans and distract attention from his efforts to overturn the election results.
After nearly three hours, Mr. Trump ultimately decided that Mr. Clark’s plan would fail, and he allowed Mr. Rosen to stay.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote on Twitter that the Justice Department inspector general “must launch an investigation into this attempted sedition now.”
UPDATE: 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. See Press Release.
This good little fascist Jeffrey Clark needs to be fired immediately, investigated and prosecuted for conspiracy to commit election fraud, and disbarred.
The Article of Impeachment for Donald Trump included factual allegations about his attempted election fraud in Georgia. This new reporting fleshes out those allegations and provides leads to new witnesses whom the impeachment managers need to depose under oath. The facts support a second Article of Impeachment for conspiracy to commit election fraud.
Trump’s conspiracy to commit election fraud is a violation of federal and Georgia law. It is highly likely that Trump engaged in similar illegal efforts in other states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania.
New Attorney General Merrick Garland needs to open a criminal investigation, as has Georgia’s Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Bring charges and prosecute Trump and his coconspirators.