Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters
Legal pressure on Jeffrey Clark, the former Justice Department attorney who co-created plans with Donald Trump and others to reverse the 2020 election results in Georgia and other states, is expected to mount with the involvement of another ex-DoJ lawyer who worked with him, say former prosecutors.
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The ex-lawyer’s cooperation, coupled with other evidence obtained by prosecutors, could help fuel charges against Clark — a close ally of then-President Trump — and benefit prosecutors as they pursue bigger targets. pursue.
Clark, then Assistant Attorney General, played a key role with the DoJ towards the end of the Trump administration, overlapping plans by Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman and Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to persuade Georgia and other states. to use “fake voters” for Trump, instead of the one Joe Biden won.
In Trump’s desperate efforts to block Biden’s victory, he turned to Clark for help at the suggestion of Congressman Scott Perry, who had also touted him to Meadows, according to emails revealed by the House Committee on January 6 investigating the Capitol uprising by Trump supporters.
Trump met with Clark alone in mid-December and talked for a few weeks about replacing acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with Clark, until Trump was bluntly heard at a raucous meeting at the White House by Rosen and his deputy, plus White House adviser Pat Cipollone. was told that this would lead to mass resignations from the department and the counsel’s office.
Clark, whose cellphone and other electronic equipment was seized by federal agents during a June search of his home, teamed up with former DoJ attorney Ken Klukowski, who is now working with prosecutors, on a draft letter to top state legislators. Georgia and the governor, who falsely claimed the department had “significant concerns” about voter fraud there and in other states.
The letter, which was never sent despite Clark’s best efforts, also suggested that legitimate Biden voters be replaced with those for Trump.
Other potential evidence against Clark could turn up in cell phones seized by the FBI over the summer that belonged to Eastman and Perry, who have both filed lawsuits to prevent investigators from accessing their phones.
In addition, Cipollone, who witnessed and was shocked by Trump’s idea of installing Clark to replace Rosen, testified before a grand jury in Washington on Sept. 2, according to a testimony from a senior DOJ official before the panel on Jan. 6. , looking at Trump’s efforts to control the election and the attack on the Capitol.
While the content of Cipollone’s testimony is unknown, other evidence regarding his views on Clark and Trump’s flirtation with promoting Clark to lead the DOJ could increase legal pressure on Clark.
Former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin said Klukowski’s partnership with prosecutors could help conduct business against other top Trump loyalists, as well as Clark.
“When prosecuting conspiracy cases, prosecutors look for ‘weak links’ among the co-conspirators, namely people willing to cooperate. The closer to the core of the conspiracy, the better,” Zeldin told The Guardian.
“In the case of the fake Georgia voter scheme, Ken Klukowski and Jeffrey Clark are the two people who stand out as logical witnesses. Both appear to have been deeply involved in the plan, and both have a lot to lose if convicted of a crime.”
Zeldin said Klukowski’s partnership with federal prosecutors could be “very bad news” for Clark, Giuliani and Eastman, who were involved in the “fake voter” schemes in several states, including Georgia.
Zeldin added: “Beyond these immediate probable targets, Klukowski may have insight into the role Mark Meadows may have played in orchestrating Trump’s efforts to sideline the election results in Georgia.”
Similarly, Barbara McQuade, a former US attorney for Eastern Michigan, told the Guardian that “Clark could find herself in serious legal jeopardy from the seizure of phones and the reported cooperation of Ken Klukowski… Clark would be the biggest culprit here, and so it seems likely that attempts to turn other witnesses around would focus on him.”
If Clark is charged with a felony, McQuade added, “he would find it attractive to work with. Reports show that he has only spoken to Trump to discuss efforts to undermine the election results. He could potentially be a valuable witness. This up-the-chain approach is the kind of strategy prosecutors use in organized crime cases.”
In particular, McQuade noted that “Clark may be helpful in examining the bogus electoral scheme in light of his draft letter to state lawmakers suggesting that they meet to nominate alternative voter lists. “
The letter Clark wanted to send to Georgia’s top lawmakers and the governor, which Klukowski helped draft, was cited in late June at a Jan. 6 House panel hearing by Vice Speaker Liz Cheney.
The letter erroneously stated that “the Justice Department is investigating several irregularities in the 2020 United States presidential election” and that the Department of Justice “identified significant concerns that could affect the election results in multiple states, including the state of Georgia”.
Former Attorney General William Barr and Rosen, who succeeded Barr as acting attorney general in December 2020, had dismissed claims by Trump and his allies of significant vote fraud in 2020.
However, former Deputy Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue told the Jan. 6 House panel that Clark was continuing his own investigation and that, despite finding no evidence of widespread fraud, Clark continued to draft an unfounded letter that had flatly rejected both Donoghue and Rosen. and send.
Donoghue testified that he repeatedly told Clark that his actions amounted to using the DoJ to interfere in the presidential election. Donoghue recalled Clark replying, “I think a lot of people got involved in this election.”
Donoghue also told the House panel in a statement that Cipollone had warned Trump that the draft letter falsely stating that DoJ was deeply concerned about fraud would be like a “murder-suicide pact” that would “harm anyone who touches it.” when it comes to Officials in Georgia
Clark’s draft letter was full of false statements about the election and his actions at DoJ to help Trump, leading the DC bar to file an ethics charge against him because his draft letter to Georgia officials represented dishonest behavior and violated legal ethics.
Rachel Semmel, a spokesperson for Center for Renewing America, where Jeff Clark is the Director of Litigation, dismissed the DoJ investigations involving Clark and others. “Biden’s DOJ has focused on attacking Americans, including attacking the legal credentials of one of the few top attorneys at the DOJ who had the best interests of the American people in mind.”
Former DOJ prosecutors say Klukowski’s cooperation combined with evidence the prosecutors appear to have obtained about Clark’s role pushing Trump’s false election claims to the DoJ could be quite helpful.
“If Klukowski can help deliver the goods to Clark, you may be on your way to Perry and Meadows who promoted Clark to Trump, possibly Giuliani and Eastman, and eventually Trump,” said former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut.
Likewise, McQuade sees potential bonuses for prosecutors as they investigate Clark and the bogus electoral schemes.
“By working up the chain, prosecutors could flip Clark and Perry to get to Meadows, and Meadows to get to Trump,” McQuade said. “Each link in the chain seems to have information that could be useful for prosecuting the next link.”