The effort was part of Trump’s pressure on the Justice Department in his final weeks in office to reverse his election loss, which also included plans to sack then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen along with a relatively unknown attorney at the Department of Justice who was willing to use the department to support Trump’s false claims about Election fraud in Georgia, two people familiar with the matter told CNN.
The effort ultimately failed as Trump’s Justice Department appointees refused to file the lawsuit, according to the newspaper. Rosen, along with former Attorney General William Barr and former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Wall, refused to file a lawsuit in the Supreme Court indicating that there was no basis for challenging the election result and that the federal government had no legal interest in a victory for Trump or Biden. presidency.
Trump also backed off during the New Year’s weekend efforts after top Justice Department officials, including Senate appointees and other political personnel, pledged to resign if Trump sacked Rosen.
The move would have been Trump’s most egregious interference in the affairs of the Justice Department, after years of breaking the decades-old presidential tradition of trying to curb the department’s apparent partisan political activity.
An outside attorney working with Trump drafted a briefing that the then president wanted the Justice Department to present, people familiar with the matter told the newspaper, but officials refused.
Jeffrey Clark, the Justice Department chief of environment and natural resources who had led the civilian division of the Justice Department during the final months of the Trump administration, advised his presidents, Rosen and Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donogo, that he was meeting with Trump to discuss sending a letter to Officials in Georgia, falsely claiming that the department is investigating serious fraud allegations and withholding final confirmation of Biden’s victory.
Rosen and others rejected the idea because it was not correct and because Rosen and Bar before him had rejected Trump’s bid to appoint a special advisor to investigate voter fraud.
Clark told The Times on Friday that Clark had denied any plan to oust him, or had made any recommendations based on conspiracy theories online.
“My job is to rely on sworn testimony to assess factual and contested claims,” Clark told The Times. “There was a frank discussion of options, pros and cons, with the president. It is unfortunate that those who have been part of a distinguished legal conversation will publicly comment on such internal deliberations, while also distorting any discussions.”
CNN has reached out to former Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller for comment. Trump declined to comment to the newspaper.
Perry, a member of the Conservative House of Freedom Bloc, informed Trump of Clark’s sympathy for his view that the election was stolen and Trump later introduced him to Clark, according to The Times. Clark was pleading with Trump because he was more open to conspiracy theories about election fraud than Rosen, according to The Times.
The Times noted that it is unclear when Perry, who represents Harrisburg, met Clark or how much the two men knew each other before Trump’s introduction. Administration officials told The Times that in late December, Clark told Rosen about the introduction by Perry, who was among a group of people who told Trump he had won the election.
Justice Department officials told the newspaper that Trump called Clark on several occasions and that the two met without alerting Rosen. Justice Department policy is that the president first contacts the attorney general or deputy attorney general on all matters, then a lower-level official if authorized, according to The Times.
CNN contacted Perry’s office for comment.
CNN’s Evan Perez contributed to this report.