One of the most striking figures in former President Donald Trump’s increasingly desperate effort stay in power after losing the 2020 election was Jeffrey Clark, an environmental lawyer at the Justice Department who urged Trump to make him attorney general days before the insurrection so that he could drag the Justice Department into Trump’s schemes.
Clark’s superiors had resoundingly rejected his plan to have the Justice Department send letters to leaders in battleground states Trump lost, letters that would have falsely claimed that the DOJ had “identified significant concerns” about the elections and suggested that legislators send pro-Trump electoral votes to Congress.
But after being rebuffed by DOJ leaders, Clark went around them to meet directly with Trump—multiple times. Three days before the insurrection, Clark urged Trump to name him attorney general. Other DOJ officials who had gotten wind of the meeting told Trump that such a move would lead to mass resignations. In the end, Trump blinked.
The Washington Post reported this week that Clark also requested an intelligence briefing about “an allegation that the Chinese were controlling US.-based voting machines via internet-connected smart thermostats,” a wild theory even for Trump’s stolen-election conspiracists and, not surprisingly, one that the DOJ did not consider credible.
Clark’s attempted end-run around the Justice Department has been documented by media and the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Clark is expecting more negative attention from the committee, he told Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast after the committee’s first public hearing last week.
On Bannon’s June 13 show, Clark falsely claimed that the committee had no right to investigate his actions because, he said, he had nothing to do with the physical attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. In fact, the committee has made it very clear from its inception that its focus is not only on the events of Jan. 6 but also on the related conspiracy to overturn the election that led up to the attack. Clark has reportedly cited the Fifth Amendment in refusing to answer committee questions. Bannon told Clark he would have him back on the show to address information about him that comes out in other Jan. 6 committee hearings.
Bannon isn’t the only Trumpworld figure rewarding Clark’s loyalty and apparent willingness to do anything to keep Trump in power. This morning, Center for Renewing America President Russ Vought, a former Trump administration official, announced that his group had hired Clark as a senior fellow to work on “election integrity” and other issues.
Vought was the guy who issued a ban on anti-racism training by federal agencies and contractors in the closing months of the Trump administration, part of a right-wing political strategy to mobilize angry voters via fearmongering about critical race theory. The Center has helped drive the manufactured anti-CRT panic; its toolkit has been promoted by the pro-Trump prayer-warriors at Intercessors for America. Vought has said the election of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin was proof of its power as a culture war weapon.
Here’s how Vought characterized Clark’s attempted subversion of the presidential election:
He brought up legitimate concerns to President Trump about potential voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election. This isn’t just a defensible action, but one that true patriots should be proud of.
Now he’s under intense scrutiny from the January 6th committee. It’s clear they want to make him a centerpiece of their witch hunt despite the fact that he fought to expose potential voter fraud.
We should learn even more about Clark’s role in Trump’s bid to retain power in the days ahead. The House select committee is expected to focus one of its upcoming public hearings on actions taken by Trump and his team to pressure the Justice Department into supporting his voter fraud claims and intimidation efforts directed against state election officials.