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Legal troubles for Jeffrey Clark, eyed for AG by Trump, come into focus

Jeffrey Clark used his DOJ position to help advance Donald Trump’s anti-election scheme. Now, by his own account, he's facing a federal criminal probe.


It was nearly three months ago when we learned federal investigators had descended on Jeffrey Clark’s home, as part of a Justice Department investigation into the Republican scheme to overturn the 2020 election. It was obvious at the time that the former DOJ official was facing some serious legal troubles.

This week, the nature of those troubles came into focus. NBC News reported:

Federal agents who seized former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark’s phone in June were looking for evidence of crimes of making false statements, criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice, according to a new filing. Clark ... told officials with the Washington, D.C., bar that the search warrant for seizure of his electronic devices was connected to a criminal investigation into violations of three federal laws.

The report added that the filing came in connection with a disciplinary case brought against Clark by the D.C. Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

I’m mindful of the fact that when it comes to the post-election scandal, there are a lot of players from Trump World to keep track of, but when it comes to understanding the plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election, few people are as important as Clark.

For those who may need a refresher, let’s circle back to our earlier coverage. In late 2020, Clark was the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division. Donald Trump, however, had a different role in mind for him: The outgoing president considered a plan in which he’d fire the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and replace him with Clark as part of a scheme to ramp up the Justice Department’s anti-election efforts.

Trump was prepared to do this because Clark, unlike Rosen, was telling the then-president what he wanted to hear about keeping him in power, despite his defeat. Indeed, Clark sketched out a map for Republican legislators to follow as part of the partisan plot, even as he quietly pressed Trump to put him in charge of the Justice Department.

Trump ultimately backed away from the plan to make Clark the acting A.G., not because the plan was stark raving mad — though it certainly was — but because the Justice Department’s senior leadership team threatened to resign en masse if Rosen was ousted. Trump decided such tumult would “eclipse any attention on his baseless accusations of voter fraud.”

This wasn’t just some random thought experiment. The New York Times reported last year that there was a “bizarre” presidential meeting in January 2021 in which Rosen and Clark made competing presentations, which “officials compared with an episode of Mr. Trump’s reality show ‘The Apprentice,’ albeit one that could prompt a constitutional crisis.”

Not surprisingly, the bipartisan House committee investigating Jan. 6 came up with a few questions for Clark. Their first interaction didn’t go especially well: Investigators sat down with the Republican lawyer in November, but according to the panel, he was not cooperative. In fact, Clark reportedly asserted attorney-client privilege, despite the fact that Trump was never Clark’s client.

That was last fall. A few months later, investigators tried again, and by some accounts, Clark pleaded the Fifthmore than 100 times.

Now, according to the lawyer’s own account, he’s facing a federal criminal investigation into alleged false statements, obstruction of justice, and criminal conspiracy. Watch this space.