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Justice Department Watchdog Launches Investigation Into Whether Officials Tried to Help Trump Overturn Election

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WASHINGTON — Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced Monday that his office has launched an investigation into whether any current or former department officials improperly tried to overturn the outcome of November’s presidential election.

The announcement follows reports over the weekend that Jeffrey Clark, the DOJ’s acting head of the civil division, devised a plan with former President Donald Trump to remove acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen so that Clark could replace him and then use the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the traditionally red state.

The New York Times first reported on the alleged plan, which was confirmed by The Washington Post.

Horowitz’s statement Monday does not mention Clark or any official by name. The inspector general says the investigation will explore all relevant allegations that may arise and are within the scope of his office. The office cannot investigate allegations about government officials outside the Justice Department, Horowitz noted.

According to The Times, top Justice Department leaders aware of the efforts by Trump and Clark all vowed during a conference call to resign if the president fired Rosen, who had repeatedly resisted Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results. Their pact persuaded Trump to keep Rosen in place, the report said.

Clark also had repeatedly pushed department leaders to help Trump undo his electoral loss, according to The Times.

Clark denied to The Times that he plotted to oust Rosen or to formulate recommendations for action based on internet conspiracy theories.

“My practice is to rely on sworn testimony to assess disputed factual claims,” he told the newspaper. “There was a candid discussion of options and pros and cons with the president. It is unfortunate that those who were part of a privileged legal conversation would comment in public about such internal deliberations, while also distorting any discussions.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded the inspector general launch an investigation “into this attempted sedition,” adding that it was “unconscionable a Trump Justice Department leader would conspire to subvert the people’s will.”

In the months following the election, Trump repeatedly made claims about widespread election fraud. Nearly all of his legal challenges failed in the courts.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Association of State Election Directors have described the election as “the most secure in American history,” adding there is “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” Before resigning last month, Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.

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