The report brings to light several new details, based on witness interviews of top former Justice Department officials, that Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows broke administration policy by pressuring a Justice Department lawyer to investigate claims of election fraud.
The Democratic-led committee also revealed that White House counsel Pat Cipollone threatened to quit in early January as Trump considered replacing then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, a DOJ lawyer who supported election fraud conspiracies.
Cipollone called the plot a “murder-suicide pact,” according to the committee’s investigation.
After the eight-month investigation, the findings highlight the relentlessness of Trump and some of his top advisers as they fixated on using the Justice Department to prop up false conspiracies of election fraud.
Soon after the release of the report Thursday morning, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office issued a GOP version, which pushes back on the Democrats’ findings and defends Trump, saying he “listened to his senior advisors and followed their advice and recommendations.”
DOJ lawyer was crucial player, Democrats say
The report released by Senate Democrats slams the actions of Clark, who they say became a crucial player in Trump’s attempt to use the Justice Department for his political gain.
The Senate Judiciary Committee announced on Thursday they were referring him to the DC Bar for a review of his professional conduct, citing rules that bar attorneys from assisting in fraud and interfering with the administration of justice.
The committee said it has not yet made findings of possible criminality, since their investigation is not complete. Clark has not been charged with any crime, and an attorney for Clark didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Clark was not interviewed by the committee. Instead, top Justice Department officials described in interviews his and Trump’s plans to overturn the election.
Clark had pushed Rosen and Richard Donoghue, then the second-in-command at the Justice Department, to use the Justice Department to announce election fraud investigations and and ask state leaders in Georgia to appoint electors, potentially disregarding the certified popular vote. Clark began making the pitch in late December after speaking with Trump directly, the committee found.
The Senate committee wrote he may have had assistance from “lower-level allies” within the Justice Department and even attempted to bargain with Rosen on his plan, saying he would turn down a chance at taking Rosen’s place if Rosen would agree to support his Georgia elector initiative.
“Clark’s proposal to wield DOJ’s power to override the already-certified popular vote reflected a stunning distortion of DOJ’s authority: DOJ protects ballot access and ballot integrity, but has no role in determining which candidate won a particular election,” the committee wrote.
This story is breaking and will be updated.