Courtesy Th Independent
Biden faces an uncomfortable future after the latest revelations about Trump
Wed, 11 August 2021, 8:47 pm
New evidence detailing how former President Donald Trump and a top Justice Department official tried using the nation’s top law enforcement agency to bolster blatant lies about the 2020 election hint at some possible uncomfortable moments in the Biden administration’s future, experts and insiders say.
According to documents released by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform late last month, Trump attempted to overturn his loss to now-President Joe Biden by persuading top Justice Department officials to publicly declare that the 2020 election was “corrupt”. This effort was supposed to give his allies in Congress reason to vote against certifying Biden’s win.
Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen also recently told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Justice Department Inspector General investigators that one of his former deputies, Jeffrey Clark, had been strategizing with Trump about how to use the DOJ to their advantage. The plan was to encourage battleground state legislatures to ignore popular vote results and send pro-Trump electoral votes to be counted instead of the true results, Rosen said.
Clark — who was then the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ’s civil division — reportedly pushed Rosen and then-Acting Deputy AG Richard Donohue to announce investigations into non-existent election fraud claims that the department had already looked into and rejected.
The actions Trump and the DOJ took in the days between his loss to Biden and the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol are currently the subject of multiple investigations. These investigations are being conducted by a group of congressional committees — including a select committee of the US House of Representatives — and the DOJ’s internal watchdog. So far, the probes have kept the Biden administration and Attorney General Merrick Garland out of the politically fraught business of investigating Biden’s predecessor. But new revelations have insiders worried that neither Garland nor Biden will be able to remain above the fray.
“As incensed as he is about what happened in January and what led up to it, he would very much prefer not to be the first American president to see his predecessor in the dock,” said one person who regularly engages with top administration officials on a variety of matters. “But there’s a growing realization that the more that becomes known, the more likely that possibility becomes.”
So far, Biden has taken pains not to comment on matters that he believes are in Garland’s wheelhouse, particularly those pertaining to possible criminal investigations. Similarly, Garland has not made any public moves that could be perceived as targeting the former president directly.
That reticence has been a deliberate choice on the part of both men, sources say, one made out of a desire to restore many of the norms Trump shredded regarding the arms-length relationship the Justice Department has had with the White House since the Ford administration. But insiders say the ongoing probes may take that choice away from them.
Donald Ayer, a former Deputy Attorney General who has been a vocal critic of the Trump-era Justice Department, said in a recent phone interview: “We’re starting to see an accumulation of pretty undeniable evidence of very serious misdeeds — conduct that we previously thought had happened, but lacked first-hand witness evidence of.”
Ayer, who served as the number-two official at Main Justice from 1989 to 1990, opined that there will probably be a number of former Trump administration officials who “are not going to want to be on the wrong side of history,” and “may well end up providing some real hard evidence that could stand up in court”.
“When the facts become a little clearer than they are now about what exactly went on, there really will be a challenging and a difficult question that will have to be asked, and I think we’re not going to know the answer till it happens,” he said.
One member of Congress charged with probing what happened on January 6, Representative Jamie Raskin, called the new information regarding Clark and Trump’s plans “highly suggestive of criminal activity”.
“The facts that we have seen are indicative of a corrupt design to interfere with a federal election,” said Raskin, who serves on the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, as well as the Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol.
The Maryland Democrat and former impeachment manager added that Trump has proven himself “an enemy of the constitutional order,” and opined that failing to take action to hold him and his allies accountable would be to “license direct attacks on our constitutional system” and could “empower [Trump] to give it another try”.
But the decision on what to do with the evidence uncovered by the investigations into January 6 and what led to it will be up to the Attorney General and the Attorney General alone.
Ayer, the Justice Department veteran, noted that the previous administration’s conduct — which he and many critics said amounted to weaponization of the department for political purposes — raises serious challenges to the new administration and its overriding desire to not look political when it comes to the Justice Department.
“Given the chronic lying of the Trump administration and the detachment from reality of many Trump supporters, there is a real risk that many millions of people will be persuaded that actions against Donald Trump are driven purely by political motives,” he said.
“I don’t think we want a third… of the population to seriously believe that the current Justice Department is out to get Donald Trump for in an unjust way for things he didn’t do. And I think avoiding creating that impression is important… but I also think that the path we’re on right now, where the evidence is becoming clearer, may ultimately become so clear as to be undeniable,” Ayer continued. “Merrick Garland is in a very challenging position, but he is ideally qualified to make the best judgment about how to achieve accountability while avoiding any credible allegations of politicization.”