Durbin: America was only a half-step away from a full-blown constitutional crisis
WASHINGTON – Following an eight-month investigation, the Senate Judiciary Committee today released new testimony and a staff report, “Subverting Justice: How the Former President and his Allies Pressured DOJ to Overturn the 2020 Election.” The report and testimony reveal that we were only a half-step away from a full blown constitutional crisis as President Donald Trump and his loyalists threatened a wholesale takeover of the Department of Justice (DOJ). They also reveal how former Acting Civil Division Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark became Trump’s Big Lie Lawyer, pressuring his colleagues in DOJ to force an overturn of the 2020 election.
The report sheds new light on Trump’s relentless efforts to coopt DOJ into overturning the 2020 election and Clark’s efforts to aid Trump. The Committee’s interim report is the first comprehensive accounting of those efforts, which were even more expansive and troubling than previously reported.
Based on findings from the investigation so far, the Committee has asked the D.C. Bar to open an investigation into Jeffrey Clark’s compliance with applicable rules of professional conduct. These rules include Rule 1.2, which prohibits attorneys from assisting or counseling clients in criminal or fraudulent conduct, and Rule 8.4, which among other things prohibits conduct that seriously interferes with the administration of justice. The Committee is withholding potential findings and recommendations about criminal culpability until the investigation is complete.
U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement on today’s report release:
“Today’s report shows the American people just how close we came to a constitutional crisis. Thanks to a number of upstanding Americans in the Department of Justice, Donald Trump was unable to bend the Department to his will. But it was not due to a lack of effort. Donald Trump would have shredded the Constitution to stay in power. We must never allow this unprecedented abuse of power to happen again.”
Key takeaways from the Committee’s investigation include:
Based on these findings, the interim report makes the following recommendations:
In January 2021, following a report from The New York Times that detailed a plot between Trump and Clark to use DOJ to further Trump’s efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election, Durbin led the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in a letter to then-Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson calling on him to preserve and produce all relevant materials in the DOJ’s possession, custody, or control related to this plot. This kicked off the Committee’s eight-month investigation. The Committee continues to seek records requested from the National Archives and Records Administration, which have not yet been supplied, and continues to pursue interviews with relevant individuals as part of this ongoing investigation.
A link to today’s report is available here.
A link to the transcripts of the Committee’s closed-door interviews with former Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen, former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, and former U.S. Attorney BJay Pak is available here.