Trump reportedly worked with a Justice Department lawyer in a plot to appoint a loyalist as acting attorney general to help him overturn the election

Trump
Donald Trump is pictured attending the D-day 75 Commemorations on June 05, 2019 in Portsmouth, England.

  • Trump reportedly worked with a Justice Department lawyer to try and oust the acting attorney general. 
  • He wanted to replace Jeffrey Rosen with lawyer Jeffrey Clark, The New York Times reported. 
  • Trump backed down after a group of top DOJ leaders said they’d resign if Rosen was fired.
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Donald Trump reportedly plotted with a Justice Department lawyer to oust acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen so he could place a loyalist who would put pressure on lawmakers in Georgia to overturn the election in his favor, The New York Times reported Friday.

The story recalls Trump’s final efforts to hold on to power in the days leading up to President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

According to The Times’ Katie Benner, Trump and Jeffrey Clark were working on ways to stir up doubts about the election results. Rosen had not cooperated with Trump’s alleged plan, prompting him to seek out a willing participant in Clark, The Times reported.

Top leaders at the Justice Department threatened to resign if Rosen was fired, which forced Trump to abandon the idea, but not before Clark and Rosen made their opposing arguments to Trump, the newspaper reported.

Trump and Republican allies lost several dozen lawsuits attempting to overturn election results.

Read more: Trump’s threat to bolt from the Republican Party could spark a serious legal fight over his ‘gold mine’ list of supporters who have helped fill the GOP coffers with billions of dollars

Allies including pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell have pushed a baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion Voting Systems switched votes for Trump to votes for Biden in the election. Dominion filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Powell earlier this month. 

The Times reported Trump also pressured Rosen to appoint special counsels, specifically one that would investigate Dominion. 

Insider was unable to reach Clark, and the Justice Department did not reply to a request for comment at the time of publication. 

Clark told The Times its report, which was based on interviews with four former Trump officials, had inaccuracies but did not specify what they were. 

“Senior Justice Department lawyers, not uncommonly, provide legal advice to the White House as part of our duties,” Clark said. “All my official communications were consistent with law.”

In December, Rosen and deputy attorney general, Richard Donoghue reportedly denied Clark’s request to have the department hold a news conference and say they were investigating the fraud allegations.

Trump had focused on the state of Georgia, where Biden had won by a small margin. The Trump administration had put pressure and attacked the then US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, Byung J. “BJay” Pak. Pak resigned from his role on January 4 and the Justice Department replaced him the next day. 

The Washington Post reported on Thursday the inspector general is now investigating Pak’s sudden departure.

Pak isn’t the only Georgia official Trump tried to pressure. Trump also pleaded with the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to “find” additional votes to help him win. 

Additionally, The Times reported Clark had asked Rosen and Donoghue to send Georgia officials a letter that falsely said the department was investigating the state for voter fraud and that they should overturn Biden’s win. On December 31, Rosen and Donoghue told Clark he was wrong since there was no evidence of any fraud. 

Read more: SCOOP: Trump taps his former chief of staff and impeachment lawyers as the gatekeepers to his papers during his post-presidency

Over that weekend, Clark met with Trump and came back to tell Rosen he would replace him ahead of January 6, when Congress met to certify the votes. 

Rosen refused to step down and worked with White House counsel, Pat Cipollone to schedule a meeting with Trump later that night, The Times reported. 

Rosen, Donoghue, and Clark met with Trump, Cipollone, and his deputy Patrick Philbin. Cipollone ultimately convinced Trump it would be unwise to fire Rosen. 

Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud have been criticized as the spark that fueled the attempted insurrection on January 6 at the US Capitol. Trump supporters breached the building and clashed with law enforcement, halting the joint session of Congress as lawmakers were set to formalize Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. The riot lead to the deaths of five people. 

The House impeached Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection. The Senate will soon hold a trial and vote on whether to convict the former president. This is the second impeachment Trump faced in his four years in office. 

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Biden won’t ask his attorney general candidates about potential investigations into his son, Hunter

Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the Electoral College vote certification process at The Queen theater on December 14, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.

  • President-elect Joe Biden has not yet selected his nominee for attorney general but will not ask candidates for the position about their plans surrounding any investigations into his son, Hunter, incoming White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday on Fox News.
  • When Attorney General Bill Barr leaves the White House this week, he will be replaced for the remainder of Trump’s term by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
  • According to a previous report from the Associated Press, Trump has floated the idea of firing Rosen should he refuse to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden.
  • Rosen has previously declined to comment whether or not he’s interested in pursuing an investigation into the president-elect’s son. 
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President-elect Joe Biden has not yet selected the person he will nominate to serve as attorney general in his administration, but he will not ask candidates about their intent to investigate his son, Hunter Biden, incoming White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday. 

“He will not be discussing an investigation of his son with any attorney general candidates,” Psaki told Chris Wallace during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday. “He will not be discussing it with anyone he is considering for the role and he will not be discussing it with a future attorney general.”

She added: “It will be up to the purview of an attorney general in his administration to determine how to handle any investigation. As you know, U.S. attorneys, that’s a personnel decision, we’re far from there at this point in the process.”

Biden has already announced a number of appointees to his administration, including people he hopes will fill high-level positions like Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense. Biden cannot officially make any nominations until after he is inaugurated in January and his nominees will also need to be confirmed by the Senate. 

Biden has also named a number of other officials who will work in his administration. At a press conference Saturday, the president-elect named a team of individuals leading his administration’s charge against climate change.

Read more: EXCLUSIVE: Jared Kushner helped create a Trump campaign shell company that secretly paid the president’s family members and spent $617 million in reelection cash, a source tells Insider

Throughout his failed bid for re-election, Trump and his allies attempted to undermine Biden by targeting his son, 50-year-old Hunter, leveraging theories and conspiracies against him, many relating to his work with the Ukrainian oil company Burisma

Earlier in December, the president-elect’s son announced that his “tax affairs” were the focus of a federal criminal investigation, further raising questions about his father’s intent to take a hands-off approach to the dealings of the US Department of Justice.  The investigation reportedly stemmed from a 2018 money-laundering investigation, The New York Times previously reported.

More recently, Trump has reportedly expressed interest in pressuring the attorney general to nominate a special counsel to investigate the president-elect’s son. On December 14, Trump announced that Attorney General William Barr would resign from his position, which he has held since 2019, on December 23. During Trump’s final weeks in office, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen will serve as acting attorney general. 

Barr reportedly knew about the criminal investigations into Hunter Biden’s financial dealings prior to the November election but kept them from the public, reportedly drawing ire from the president.

Last week, The Associated Press reported that Trump would consider firing Rosen if he did not announce special counsel investigations into the president-elect’s son relating to his taxes and Trump’s baseless allegations over voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Rosen on Wednesday declined to stay publicly whether he will appoint a special counsel to investigate the president-elect’s son, saying he would continue “to do things on the merits and to do things on the basis of the law and the facts.” 

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Trump is already considering on axing his new attorney general if he won’t go along with a special counsel probe into Hunter Biden

Trump/Barr
Trump makes a statement with Attorney General William Barr in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 11, 2019 in Washington, DC.

  • Trump has discussed with top aides the prospect of replacing Jeffrey Rosen, who is set to replace Attorney General Bill Barr next week, reported the Associated Press. 
  • The president is reportedly determined that Rosen appoint special counsels to investigate Hunter Biden’s tax affairs and baseless election fraud allegations. 
  • If Rosen does not comply, then Trump could force him out, according to the report. 
  • Barr was previously considered one of Trump’s staunchest loyalists, but their relationship soured.
  • It was reported last week that Barr had not revealed during the election that Hunter Biden was under investigation by authorities in Delaware. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump has already discussed sacking Jeffrey Rosen, who is set to replace Attorney General Bill Barr next week, reported the Associated Press. 

Trump is discussing removing Rosen if he does not comply with his demands and appoint a special counsel to probe Hunter Biden’s tax affairs and the president’s groundless election fraud claims, Trump administration and Republican sources close to the White House told the agency.  

Trump has already talked through the move with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and attorney Pat Cipollone, according to the report. 

Rosen is supposed to replace Barr, who announced his resignation Monday, as effectively a stopgap justice department chief until President-elect Joe Biden takes office in eight weeks and appoints a successor. 

Jeffrey Rosen
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen holds a news conference at the Justice Department on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC.

According to the report, Trump has even discussed with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, whether he can appoint special counsel investigators himself, believing it would damage the incoming Biden administration. 

The White House and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report. 

Rosen has served as Barr’s deputy at the justice department since 2019. 

Barr was previously considered one of Trump’s staunchest loyalists. Still, their relationship soured when the Wall St Journal revealed last week that Barr was aware that Hunter Biden was under investigation for potential tax fraud crimes by authorities in Delaware for months.

Trump was reportedly furious that Barr had not gone public with the information during the presidential election. One of Trump’s main lines of attack against his rival was Hunter Biden’s employment by Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, which he alleged was evidence of Biden family corruption. 

No evidence has emerged to substantiate the allegations against Hunter Biden. However, as part of the US attorney’s investigations into his tax affairs, he has been subpoenaed for information about his work with Burisma. 

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