A top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says a preliminary investigation does not show that then-President Donald Trump was the mastermind of a “scheme” to get his Justice Department to work on overturning the results of the 2020 election.
Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the committee, told Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, that according to an interim report released by the panel last week regarding allegations involving the former president, so far nothing has been found to indicate any nefarious plots directed by Trump.
The Washington Examiner reports:
Trump is said to have favored replacing Jeffrey Rosen, his acting attorney general, with Jeffrey Clark, another DOJ official who drew up a proposal to intervene in the Georgia certification process and raised doubts about the election results in other states. The former president opted not to dismiss Rosen after he was told during an early January meeting in the Oval Office that top Justice Department officials and White House counsel Pat Cipollone would resign if he went through with the plan, according to the 394-page report from the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was based on the testimony of former officials and documents.
Whitehouse told the NBC host that Senate investigators have “a very complete picture of the extent to which Trump was personally involved in this,” while adding that the then-president’s contact with Georgia officials regarding election results is the focus of an unrelated probe to see if he broke any state laws.
The title of the report is, “Subverting Justice: How the Former President and His Allies Pressured DOJ to Overturn the 2020 Election,” but Whitehouse made it clear there is no evidence thus far to support claims that Trump was part of some “scheme” to reverse the outcome.
“What we don’t know is who was really behind this,” Whitehouse told Todd. “The text of the transcript and the body English of the witnesses suggests that they had very little regard for this character Jeffrey Clark, who was nominally going to be the new attorney general. They doubted his qualifications to even have that role.”
“So, it’s a possibility, I suppose, that he saw this moment and grabbed it, but it’s an equally real possibility that he was a cog in a larger machine, and we’ve got a lot of work to do to figure out how that machine ran through this period, who was behind it, where the money came from, and what’s been going on,” he added.
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Todd pressed on that, asking, “And you think it’s somebody other than Donald Trump? I mean — you know, when I hear that, you’re essentially saying you believe there’s somebody else involved, somebody else was pulling the strings. Who could that be besides Donald Trump?”
“We don’t know yet, but, you know, this guy jumped to a dark money enterprise. So, he’s been taken care of, Jeffrey Clark. There was a lot of activity around this with members of Congress. There’s just a lot left to be learned,” he added.
According to the Senate Judiciary report, which was written at the behest of majority Democrats, Trump only spoke to the Justice Department to inquire why officials were not doing more to investigate his claims of voter irregularities, but the investigation has not found that he directed anyone at DoJ to do anything treacherous or illegal.
A separate report from minority Republicans on the committee found, among other things:
— President Trump listened to his advisors, including high-level DOJ officials and White House Counsel and followed their recommendations.
— President Trump twice rejected sending Jeffrey Clark’s, the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division, draft letter recommending to some states with reported voter irregularities that they hold a legislative session to choose different electors.
— Clark told Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen regarding his draft letter, [t]hese are my ideas,” not the President’s.
— President Trump accepted Rosen’s recommendations that DOJ not file a draft complaint against some states based on reported voter irregularities and “didn’t resist it or deliver an ultimatum or try to overrule [DOJ].”
— Donoghue testified that President Trump had “no impact” on DOJ investigative actions relating to the election.
— Witnesses testified that they were not pressured by President Trump or the White House to take action with respect to investigating certain election fraud claims.
— Notes of a phone call between Rosen, Donoghue and President Trump show that the President expressed concerns centered on “legitimate complaints and reports of crimes” relating to election allegations.