According to Michael Kranish of the Washington Post, high-ranking members of the Department of Justice were at odds in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 insurgency about attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
As Kranish points out, the battle between two factions within the highly politicized DOJ has been reported before, but new details about an explosive argument between Jeffrey Clark, who wanted to back Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results, and Richard Donoghue, then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s deputy, have emerged.
According to the story, Donoghue and Rosen snuck into Clark’s meeting with Trump, where he was supposed to detail his strategy to sabotage election results certification.
That set off a furious exchange.
“What happens if, within 48 hours, we have hundreds of resignations from your Justice Department because of your actions?” Donoghue reportedly asked Trump. “What does that say about your leadership?”
“And we’re not the only ones,” Donoghue claims he told Trump after he threatened to resign. “You should understand that your entire department leadership will resign. Every [assistant attorney general] will resign… Mr. President, these aren’t bureaucratic leftovers from another administration. You picked them. This is your leadership team. You sent every one of them to the Senate; you got them confirmed. What is that going to say about you, when we all walk out at the same time?”
Focusing on Clark, he added, “He’s never been a criminal attorney. He’s never conducted a criminal investigation in his life. He’s never been in front of a grand jury, much less a trial jury,” which led Clark to object by saying, “Well, I’ve done a lot of very complicated appeals and civil litigation, environmental litigation, and things like that.”
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“That’s right,” Donoghue told investigators he responded. “You’re an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we’ll call you when there’s an oil spill.”
According to the report, Trump turned to Clark and told him, “I appreciate your willingness to do it. I appreciate you being willing to suffer the abuse. But the reality is, you’re not going to get anything done. These guys are going to quit. Everyone else is going to resign. It’s going to be a disaster. The bureaucracy will eat you alive. And no matter how much you want to get things done in the next few weeks, you won’t be able to get it done, and it’s not going to be worth the breakage.”
It should be noted that Clark invoked his 5th Amendment rights when questioned by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.