So When Will We Get That Hearing About Attempted Coup At The DOJ?

Looks like we’ll have to wait a little bit longer to hear testimony about the attempted coup at Trump’s Justice Department, since the House January 6 Select Committee just announced that the hearing scheduled for tomorrow will be postponed for technical reasons. Maybe former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy Richard Donoghue and the former head of the Office of Legal Counsel Steven Engel are all in labor!

But probably not.

Luckily the Washington Post has a tick-tock of Trump’s attempt to weaponize the DOJ to help him steal the election with a bunch of crazy new details to tide us over until they reschedule.

We already knew the broad contours of this prong of Trump’s seven-part plan to overturn Biden’s decisive electoral win. Jeffrey Clark, acting head of the DOJ’s environmental division, was in cahoots with Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry to get the Department to put out announcements of non-existent electoral fraud in each of the swing states, providing Republican-dominated legislatures with a pretext to claw back their states’ electoral votes and recast them for Trump. When Rosen and Donoghue refused to do it, Perry and Clark back-channeled to Trump in an attempt to get Rosen fired and Clark put in charge of the DOJ. The plot was only foiled because Rosen, Donoghue, Engel, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and half the lawyers in their respective offices threatened to quit en masse and loudly during a January 3, 2021, Oval Office showdown. Trump decided that it wasn’t “worth the breakage,” and the country was saved — for another three days at least.

The Post reports that Perry set up a meeting between Trump and Clark before Christmas 2020, without telling Rosen, in a massive breach of protocol. When Rosen found out, he was apoplectic, calling Clark to chew him out on December 26. But Clark didn’t stop, demanding a briefing from the Director of National Intelligence on Chinese efforts to rig the election by dint of Bluetooth-capable thermostats, a conspiracy theory he’d discovered by do-your-own-researching on the internet.

On December 27, Trump called up Rosen and urged him to “just have a press conference” and announce investigations of electoral fraud, which would give space to Republican politicians to implement John Eastman’s harebrained plot to have Vice President Mike Pence reject swing state electors.

“Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen,” Trump whined.

Rosen, who was simultaneously fending off pressure from chief of staff Mark Meadows to investigate the Italian space laser election conspiracy, refused.

But the next day Clark was back on his bullshit, sending Donoghue and Rosen a letter cooked up by Kenneth Klukowski, a lawyer who had just come over to the DOJ from the Office of Management and Budget. Before joining OMB, Klukowski was a former Breitbart writer and lawyer for various conservative outfits including the Family Research Council. As the Southern Poverty Law Center notes, Klukowski is virulently homophobic, once arguing that transgender service members should be banned based on the prohibition on anyone with a “mental disorder” serving in the military.

(Side note: It is absolutely precious to watch Mick Mulvaney clutch his pearls about the lack of adults in the room after he got shipped off to Northern Ireland. From his simultaneous positions as White House chief of staff and head of OMB — so he wouldn’t have to take a pay cut! — Mulvaney was willing to do literally any corrupt thing Trump asked of him, from insisting that the Secret Service had searched high and low and couldn’t find anywhere better than Trump Doral for the G7 summit, to blocking congressionally allocated defense funds from going out to Ukraine until Ukraine President Zelenskyy announced investigations of non-existent Biden criming. That guy hired Klukowski at OMB, which was a goddamn cesspool of corruption. He can get bent.)

Klukowski once wrote a book accusing Barack Obama of trying to subvert the Constitution and “build an imperial presidency,” and so it is more than a little ironic that he’s the one who gave Clark the memo entitled “Georgia Proof of Concept” — because once they got done with Georgia, they were taking their plan to Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin —which argued that the Constitution implied a right for state legislatures to convene themselves without approval by the governor for the purpose of clawing back electors.

“In light of these developments, the Department recommends that the Georgia General Assembly should convene in special session so that its legislators are in a position to take additional testimony, receive new evidence, and deliberate on the matter consistent with its duties under the U.S. Constitution,” it read.

Whether Klukowski was the original author of this insanity isn’t clear. But whoever wrote it definitely wanted to keep it under wraps, captioning it “Pre-Decisional & Deliberative/Attorney-Client or Legal Work Product” — basically saying it was double-super-secret under both DOJ and civilian rules. It was also totally insane, so naturally Clark was all in.

“I set it up for signature by the three of us,” he wrote, forwarding the document to Rosen and Donoghue shortly after receiving it from Klukowski. “I think we should get it out as soon as possible.”

“There’s no chance I would sign this letter or anything remotely like this,” Donoghue responded, telling Clark in a hastily convened meeting with Rosen that the proposal was “wildly inappropriate and irresponsible … nothing less than the department meddling in the outcome of a presidential election,” according to his testimony before the committee.

But Clark was undeterred, telling Rosen on January 3, 2021, that the president was going to fire Rosen and make him (Clark) the acting AG. At which point the entire leadership of the DOJ agreed as one that they were going to have to do something. Which is great, but the fact that it took an actual coup attempt for them to lurch into action after EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED FOR FOUR STRAIGHT YEARS is hardly cause for a standing ovation.

The matter came to a head later that day in the Oval Office. According to testimony by Rosen, Engel, and Donoghue to the committee, Clark pitched his plan as “a last opportunity to sort of set things straight with this defective election, and that he could do it, and he had the intelligence and the will and the desire to pursue these matters in the way that the president thought most appropriate.”

“You two haven’t done anything. You two don’t care. You haven’t taken appropriate actions. Everyone tells me I should fire you,” Trump said to Rosen and Donoghue, adding “What do I have to lose?”

“Mr. President, you have a great deal to lose,” Donoghue claims to have responded, threatening mass, public resignations if Trump went through with Clark’s plan.

“Mr. President, these aren’t bureaucratic leftovers from another administration,” he added. “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?”

As for Clark, Donoghue was scathing.

“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,” he said, scoffing at Clark’s protests that he’d been involved in “a lot of very complicated appeals and civil litigation, environmental litigation, and things like that.”

“You’re an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we’ll call you when there’s an oil spill,” Donoghue retorted.

“I appreciate you being willing to suffer the abuse,” Trump conceded, turning to Clark. “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.”

Clark had one more trick up his sleeve, though. What if the DOJ put out an “advisory opinion” blessing John Eastman’s fakakta plan for Pence to unilaterally reject swing state electors?

“That’s an absurd idea,” Engel shot back.

So Trump turned to the mob instead, and well, we all know what happened three days later.

It’s not clear when Rosen, Donoghue, and Engel will eventually testify, but, if we might make a minor suggestion, the committee needs to put these guys on in prime time. This shit was NUTS, and nobody but diehards like us knows exactly what happened here. Make it must see TV, guys — it ain’t rocket science.


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