Matt Gaetz’s indicted associate Joel Greenberg has been cooperating against him since last year, report says

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is seen during a break in the House Judiciary Committee hearing on policing practices and law enforcement accountability in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

  • Joel Greenberg has been cooperating against Rep. Matt Gaetz since last year, NYT reported.
  • Greenberg reportedly told investigators that he and Gaetz had interactions with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex.
  • Gaetz has been embroiled in a political firestorm since The Times reported that he was being investigated over whether he broke sex trafficking laws.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector and close associate of GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, has been cooperating with federal investigators since last year, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Greenberg has given investigators information about an “array of topics,” the report said, including encounters that he and Gaetz allegedly had with women who were given cash and gifts in exchange for sex.

The Justice Department first indicted Greenberg last June, and he resigned from his government position shortly after. Since then, he’s been charged with 33 counts, including carrying out the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17.

Gaetz, meanwhile, has been embroiled in a political firestorm since The Times reported last month that the Justice Department was investigating him as part of the Greenberg inquiry. In particular, the feds are said to be looking into whether Gaetz had sex with a minor and violated sex trafficking laws.

The Florida Republican lawmaker has fervently denied the allegations against him and claimed the department’s probe is part of an elaborate and convoluted extortion scheme against his family.

A spokesperson for Gaetz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tuesday’s reporting comes after prosecutors and Greenberg’s defense attorneys told a judge last week that they were close to reaching a plea deal.

It’s unclear what the terms of the agreement would be, but Greenberg’s lawyer Fritz Scheller hinted that his client was cooperating with prosecutors, telling reporters last week, “I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.”

It’s unusual for prosecutors or defense attorneys to publicize the existence of a plea deal because they’d want to avoid tipping off other targets.

“I don’t know if [Scheller’s] foreshadowing, I don’t know what the motive would be because generally cooperators don’t want people to know they’re cooperating,” Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI agent who was the lead agent in the government’s case against ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, told Insider. “But maybe that buck has passed because this case has been so publicly talked about.”

The Times’ report on Tuesday, which revealed that Greenberg has been cooperating since last year, also suggests he didn’t have much to lose when lawyers for the prosecution and defense told the court last week that a plea deal was on the horizon.

Based on media reporting about the Gaetz probe, prosecutors likely have a large trail of breadcrumbs to follow as they work to corroborate the allegations against the GOP lawmaker.

The investigation is said to be looking into whether he used campaign money to fund travel for women, and The Times reported investigators were scrutinizing Gaetz and Greenberg’s interactions with “multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments.”

CBS News reported that prosecutors were also zeroing in on a trip Gaetz took to the Bahamas in late 2018 or early 2019 with a hand surgeon and marijuana entrepreneur who is accused of footing the bill for female sex workers, hotel rooms, and travel expenses. And The Daily Beast reported that Gaetz sent Greenberg $900 via Venmo in 2018 and that Greenberg then sent $900, in varying amounts, to three young women.

But there’s other information that prosecutors would need to build a strong case, details they may not be able to glean from records and documents.

That’s where Greenberg comes in.

For one, he could have been privy to conversations in which only he and Gaetz were present or private communications that took place on encrypted apps, in text messages that could have been deleted, or on a burner phone.

“There could be a number of things they did that the government may not have access to or doesn’t even know exist,” Ebadi said.

But the biggest thing he could speak to, she added, is whether Gaetz expressed his intent in the conduct he’s accused of engaging in.

“Depending on what prosecutors charge, often an element in various cases is intent, or proving someone’s knowledge or willfulness when committing a crime,” Ebadi said, adding that with Greenberg, “you could have someone that was present when [Gaetz] was making statements like, ‘I’m going to do this,’ or ‘I’m doing this for these particular reasons.’ Those are crucial words in a case like this, especially when it comes to that element of intent.”

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Biden could wipe out 84% of the federal student-debt pile by canceling $50,000 per person

student loans graduate
  • DOE data shows canceling $50,000 in student debt per person would erase debt for 84% of federal borrowers.
  • It shows that canceling $10,000 per person would erase debt for 35% of them, Yahoo Finance reports.
  • The DOE and DOJ are reviewing Biden’s authority to cancel $50,000 in student debt.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democratic lawmakers are continuing to push for President Joe Biden to cancel $50,000 in student debt per person, and new data from the Department of Education may have helped them make their case to the president.

A DOE analysis obtained by Yahoo Finance on Monday found that $50,000 in student-loan forgiveness per person would erase the entire debt for 36 million – or 84% – of the roughly 43 million borrowers in the US with federal loans, while $10,000 in forgiveness would erase the entire debt for 15 million – or 35% – of those borrowers.

The data also showed that 9.4 million of the 36 million borrowers who would benefit from a $50,000 loan cancelation are at risk of default, meaning they could fail to repay the loans. Also, 4.4 million borrowers, each holding an average of $48,000 in student debt, have had loans for more than two decades since graduation. Another 10.7 million borrowers have held their loans for over a decade.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have led efforts in calling on Biden to cancel $50,000 in student debt per person using executive powers, but the president has argued he does not have the authority to cancel $50,000, and he said he would welcome legislation to cancel $10,000 per person.

In response to Biden’s comments, Warren said in a press call last month: “We have a lot on our plate, including moving to infrastructure and all kinds of other things. I have legislation to do it, but to me, that’s just not a reason to hold off. The president can do this, and I very much hope that he will.”

Biden has since asked the Justice Department and the Education Department to review his authority to use executive action to cancel student debt, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in early April that the $50,000 cancelation figure hasn’t been ruled out.

The DOE data comes ahead of Warren’s Senate Banking hearing on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the burden of student debt.

“I graduated from a state school that cost $50 a semester,” Warren said on Twitter on Monday. “That opportunity is simply not out there today. Two out of every three people who go to a state school today have to borrow money to graduate. That is not how we build a future. #CancelStudentDebt.”

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Thousands of inmates given the chance to serve their sentence at home because of COVID-19 might go back to prison cells

prison inmates
In this Aug. 16, 2016, file photo, general population inmates walk in a line at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif.

  • Thousands of people imprisoned for low-level crimes have been serving their sentences at home because of the pandemic.
  • Because of a lingering legal opinion made under the outgoing Trump administration, these people might have to return to prison.
  • The Biden administration has yet to address the legal opinion.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A legal opinion made in the remaining days of the Trump administration might force incarcerated people who have been serving their sentences at home to return to prison.

Reuters reported that nearly 24,000 incarcerated individuals who’ve committed low-level crimes have been allowed to serve their sentence at home due to fears of the spread of the coronavirus. But the legal opinion has a clause that says these incarcerated individuals might be removed from their homes and put back into cells.

Congressional Democrats have called for the reversal of the legal opinion, written by the Justice Department under the Trump administration.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, along with more than two dozen other congressional lawmakers, asked Biden in a letter last week to prioritize the memo’s reversal and rescind it.

“We urge you to use your executive clemency authority or direct the Justice Department to seek compassionate release for people who have demonstrated that they no longer need to be under federal supervision,” the letter said.

The Biden administration has so far left the legal memo untouched.

The memo says the at-home sentences only apply to the period of time during which the coronavirus forces social distancing and quarantining. Once it’s lifted, the federal Bureau of Prisons “must recall prisoners in home confinement to correctional facilities” if there is no other reason for them to stay at home, according to Reuters.

About 7,400 BOP incarcerated individuals have remaining time to serve – and these are the individuals who might most be impacted if this memo isn’t rescinded.

“Words can’t really express how I feel to be home 11 years earlier. To get a job, to get a bank account,” said Kendrick Fulton, a 47-year-old man who was sentenced for selling crack cocaine. “I served over 17 years already. What more do you want? I should go back for another 11 years to literally just do nothing?”

In the time that he’s been home, Fulton got a job at a wholesale auto glass distributor, Reuters reported.

A BOP union official told Reuters correctional facilities no longer have the staff to get these individuals back to prison, calling the task “impossible.”

“We don’t have the staff,” Joe Rojas, Southeast Regional Vice President at Council Of Prison Locals, said to Reuters. “We are already in chaos as it is as an agency.”

Neither the BOP nor the Justice Department immediately responded to a request for comment.

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Here’s what we know about the 2 prominent lawyers Rep. Matt Gaetz hired in federal sex-trafficking probe

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, in Washington.

  • Rep. Matt Gaetz has secured help in fighting a federal sexual misconduct probe, hiring two high-profile lawyers, Mark Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, to defend him.
  • Officials are trying to determine whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl or violated sex-trafficking laws.
  • Mukasey is a longtime associate of Rudy Giuliani’s who also has close ties to former President Donald Trump.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Embroiled in a federal sex-trafficking investigation, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida has hired two topdog defense attorneys to represent him.

The lawyers, Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, come as a probe into Gaetz intensifies.

The House Ethics Committee on Friday announced an investigation into Gaetz over allegations of sexual misconduct. A bombshell New York Times report released last week revealed that Gaetz is facing a federal sex crimes investigation, a probe designed to determine whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Officials are also seeking to learn whether he had violated sex-trafficking laws.

The Florida Republican has not been charged, and he’s repeatedly denied all allegations. Instead, he’s pushed a narrative that says the federal investigation and these allegations make up an elaborate and convoluted scheme to extort him and his family for $25 million.

“Once again, the office will reiterate, these allegations are blatantly false and have not been validated by a single human being willing to put their name behind them,” Gaetz’s office said in a statement Friday.

The probe, nevertheless, is heating up. And Gaetz hired well-connected powerhouse attorneys to help him navigate through the mess.

The attorneys “will take the fight to those trying to smear his name with falsehoods,” a statement from his office said.

Marc Mukasey

Mukasey is a high-profile attorney with close ties to former President Donald Trump and his ex-personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Mukasey and Giuliani used to be law partners. After they split ways, one of Mukasey’s first clients was Trump himself. He currently represents the Trump Organization in an ongoing criminal probe into the former president’s tax returns conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

One of Mukasey’s most controversial cases involved Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, accused and acquitted of charges related to war crimes.

Mukasey’s career and that of his father have for years closely intertwined with the needs of top GOP leaders.

His father, Michael, was a district judge appointed by Ronald Reagan, Law&Crime reported. He also served as the US attorney general under the George W. Bush administration.

Isabelle Kirshner

Kirshner is an outspoken critic of Trump, constantly blasting him in public. She’s previously referred to the former president as a “scourge” and an “existential threat,” according to Law&Crime.

As an attorney, her record is marked in part by male clients who’ve faced serious sexual abuse and misconduct allegations.

She is a former Manhattan assistant district attorney who represented former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after allegations of sexual assault and violence against him came out. Schneiderman denied all allegations but resigned from his position.

Kirshner’s also represented Dr. Robert Hadden, the New York gynecologist accused of sexual assault. Among his accusers was Evelyn Wang, the wife of now New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang. Evelyn said Hadden had sexually assaulted her multiple times during an OB-GYN visit while she was pregnant with her first child.

Hadden was charged last September with a pattern of sexual assault and abuse spanning decades, from 1993 to 2012.

Neither Mukasey nor Kirshner immediately returned requests for comment from Insider.

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Feds are investigating whether Matt Gaetz discussed running a sham candidate in Florida Senate elections to deprive a political rival of votes, report says

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 27: Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks with fans during the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC held at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on Saturday, Feb 27, 2021 in Orlando, FL. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Rep. Matt Gaetz.

  • Feds are investigating if Rep. Gaetz discussed running a fake candidate in a 2020 state race, NYT reports.
  • The race’s GOP candidate Jason Brodeur, a Gaetz ally, ultimately won the election.
  • Funding so-called “ghost candidates” could be considered a violation of campaign-finance laws.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Federal prosecutors investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz over sex-trafficking allegations are also considering whether he talked about running a fake candidate in a Florida Senate election to skew the results, The New York Times reported.

In November, the GOP candidate Jason Brodeur, an associate of Gaetz, beat the Democratic candidate Patricia Sigman to win a seat in the state Senate.

The Times reported that investigators were told about a conversation in which Gaetz and Chris Dorworth, a prominent Florida lobbyist, discussed running a fake third candidate to siphon votes off Sigman and boost Brodeur’s chances of winning.

A third-party candidate, Jestine Ianotti, did run in the race, and Brodeur ultimately beat Sigman by more than 7,000 votes – more votes than what Ianotti got.

The Times’ sources noted that this line of inquiry was in its early stages. Insider has contacted Gaetz’s office for comment.

Matt Gaetz
Gaetz seen in Washington, DC, on June 10, 2020.

Dorworth told the Times that he did not recall such a conversation with Gaetz and that he had never met Ianotti.

“I never met the woman who did run,” Dorworth told the Times. “Never spoke to her, communicated by any written device, gave her any money or anything else.”

Getting a so-called “ghost candidate” to run in a race to pry votes from other candidates is not illegal, but paying such candidates to run could be considered a violation of campaign-finance laws, the Times reported.

The Justice Department is currently investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her travel, which could be a violation of sex-trafficking laws. Gaetz has denied breaking any laws.

That investigation is part of a larger one that centers on Joel Greenberg, a tax collector from Florida and an associate of Gaetz.

Greenberg has been indicted on 33 counts, including one charging him with carrying out the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17. His lawyers said on Thursday he is likely to accept a plea deal.

Two of Gaetz’s aides have quit amid reports of the probe, and several politicians have called on him to resign.

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Nancy Pelosi said Matt Gaetz’s removal from Judiciary is ‘least that could be done’ if allegations of possible sex-trafficking investigation are true

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 09: Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) during a House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing with members of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee on Capitol Hill on December 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. The U.S. Army has fired or suspended 14 leaders at Fort Hood following an investigation into the death of Specialist Vanessa Guillén and numerous other deaths and reports of sexual abuse on the military base. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Rep. Matt Gaetz is reportedly being looked at in a sex-trafficking investigation.

  • Nancy Pelosi said Matt Gaetz’s removal from the Judiciary Committee is “the least that could be done” if charges against him are true.
  • A bombshell report from The New York Times revealed that Gaetz was under federal investigation.
  • The GOP lawmaker later claimed the report was a “planted leak” as part of an extortion scheme.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Rep. Matt Gaetz’s removal from the House Judiciary Committee is “least that could be done” should a Department of Justice investigation find allegations of possible sex trafficking true.

Pelosi responded to the emerging scandal surrounding Gaetz during a weekly news conference, saying that she believes the investigation is an “important issue” that affects the “integrity of the Congress.”

Read more: Matt Gaetz is adding to his legal woes with a media blitz that could torpedo his defense if he’s charged with a federal sex crime, DOJ veterans say

Gaetz became embroiled in a political firestorm earlier this week after The New York Times first reported that the Justice Department was conducting a probe into whether he had a sexual relationship with a minor and violated federal sex-trafficking laws.

The Republican lawmaker responded by claiming that the allegations are false and that the investigation was part of an “organized criminal extortion” plot against him and that bombshell report from The Times was a “planted leak.”

“If in fact these allegations are true, of course, being removed from the Judiciary Committee is the least that could be done,” Pelosi told reporters during the press conference, “but again, I think from what we’ve heard so far, this would be a matter for the Ethics Committee.”

Pelosi’s remarks on the investigation followed a similar response by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who said it’s too early to judge Gaetz and the situation at hand.

“Those are serious implications. If it comes out to be true, yes, we would remove him if that’s the case,” McCarthy told Fox News on Wednesday. “But right now Matt Gaetz says that it’s not true, and we don’t have any information. So let’s get all the information.”

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Rep. Matt Gaetz claims the DOJ’s investigation into whether he violated sex trafficking laws is part of ‘an organized criminal extortion’ scheme against him

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz.

  • GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz claimed a federal probe into whether he broke sex trafficking laws is part of an “extortion” scheme against him.
  • “No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets … of the ongoing extortion investigation,” he tweeted.
  • Gaetz’s tweets came after NYT reported that investigators are looking into whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida claimed on Tuesday that an ongoing Justice Department investigation into whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws is part of an “organized criminal extortion” scheme against his family.

The New York Times first reported on the investigation, and Gaetz confirmed its existence to The Times and the news website Axios.

According to the reports, investigators are said to be examining whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel with him, which would violate sex trafficking statutes.

The Republican lawmaker said on Twitter that the investigation was launched on a false premise and based on “lies” being pushed against him by a former Justice Department official.

“Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name,” Gaetz tweeted. “We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter … and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals.”

Gaetz continued: “No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets … of the ongoing extortion investigation. I demand the DOJ immediately release the tapes, made at their direction, which implicate their former colleague in crimes against me based on false allegations.”

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Attorney General Merrick Garland says the Justice Department will review how to tackle anti-Asian violence within 30 days

Asian community protests Atlanta shooting
Demonstrators at at Rally Against Hate to end discrimination against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, New York City, March 21, 2021.

  • The Department of Justice is prioritizing a review of its handling of anti-Asian hate crimes.
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the new effort in a Tuesday statement.
  • Garland says he wants the Justice Department to “recommit” to using its resources to combat hate.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Tuesday that the Justice Department would review how to tackle anti-Asian violence within the next 30 days.

The review was announced in a letter from Garland obtained by CBS Chief Justice and Homeland Security Correspondent Jeff Pegues and shared on Twitter by his colleague, CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Weijia Jiang.

Garland cited the DOJ’s efforts to prosecute Ku Klux Klan members in its early history, saying, “One hundred and fifty years later, hate crimes persist and continue to have a toxic effect on our society.”

Hate crimes against Asian-American have surged in the last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, and Garland said he wanted the Justice Department to “recommit” to use its resources to combat hate.

Read more: Meet Merrick Garland’s inner circle of 15 officials working to restore the Justice Department’s independence after Trump

He said the Justice Department would consider how it could better track the reporting of hate crimes and hate incidents, prioritize criminal investigations, utilize civil enforcement authorities to ensure bias does not arise, and equip US Attorney’s Offices with resources to protect against hate.

“While this effort remains ongoing, the Department will seek justice for the victims of hate-fueled mass murderers we have seen too many times in the past several years – killings that have shaken our communities, torn at our social fabric, and undercut our most basic values,” Garland said in the statement.

Garland added that he would “continue to deploy” community outreach organizations and civil enforcement power to help prevent further hate crimes. That would include working with state and local authorities to provide bolstered resources to both investigate and prosecute hate crimes and prevent potential hate events before they occur.

In mid-March 2021, a mass shooting targeting massage parlors and spas in the Atlanta area that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women, brought the rising trend of anti-Asian violence and hate crimes into the national spotlight and onto the radar of Congress, the Biden White House, and law enforcement agencies like the DOJ.

Violence targeting Asians and Asian-Americans has been on the uptick since early 2020 when COVID-19 began to spread around the globe, continuing decades of painful discrimination and violence against people of Asian descent in America.

Insider’s Ryan Barber recently reported that Garland, an experienced federal prosecutor and former longtime judge, is also aiming to restore morale and boost a sense of camaraderie at the DOJ following the tumultuous events of 2020 and 2021, culminating in the January 6 insurrection on the US Capitol.

Also on Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced a number of White House initiatives to combat anti-Asian hate and violence.

They include “reinstating and reinvigorating” the White House’s work with federal agencies to focus on hate crimes. To that end, Biden is redirecting some funds from the American Rescue Plan to create a new $49.5 million grant program to help Asian-American domestic violence and sexual assault victims, and also establishing a new COVID-19 Equity Task Force focused on xenophobia and health disparities.

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The Justice Department and FBI are investigating whether Roger Stone and Alex Jones played a role in the Capitol siege, report says

roger stone alex jones rally trump
Roger Stone, left, and Alex Jones, right, spoke at pro-Trump rallies ahead of the Capitol siege on January 6, 2021.

  • Right-wing influencers are being investigated by the FBI and the Justice Department, according to The Washington Post.
  • Investigators are exploring possible ties between Alex Jones, Roger Stone, and the insurrectionists.
  • The investigation wants to understand what the rioters were thinking when they ransacked the US Capitol.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Justice Department and FBI are looking into whether Roger Stone and Alex Jones played a role in the deadly insurrection on January 6, according to The Washington Post.

The right-wing influencers and ‘Stop the Steal’ organizer Ali Alexander, are being investigated to help gain a greater understanding of what inspired the rioters to ransack the US Capitol building, The Post reported.

Investigators intend to explore whether there is a link between those who stormed the Capitol and those who may have influenced them by promoting election fraud conspiracy theories, the paper said.

The investigation does not necessarily mean that the men will face criminal charges, people familiar with the case told The Post. 

“We are investigating potential ties between those physically involved in the attack on the Capitol and individuals who may have influenced them, such as Roger Stone, Alex Jones, and [Stop the Steal organizer] Ali Alexander,” an unnamed US official told the paper.

All three men made unsubstantiated claims of election fraud in the lead-up to the Capitol siege.

On one occasion, Stone baselessly claimed that North Korea had interfered in the presidential election by shipping in ballots through Maine ports.

The longtime friend of former President Donald Trump also spoke at a rally in front of the Supreme Court the day before the insurrection. He was reportedly flanked by extremists who later stormed the Capitol.

Jones, who also gave a speech at this event, posted a video on his website of him telling a crowd: “We have only begun to resist the globalists. We have only begun our fight against their tyranny. They have tried to steal this election in front of everyone.”

He has publicly stated that his media company funded the Stop the Steal rally–  the precursor to the Capitol siege.

Alexander, who is also said to be under investigation, helped organize several rallies that preceded the insurrection.

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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

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.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

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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