Read the bogus letter Trump Justice Department ally wanted to send to Georgia

Jeffrey Clark was a Donald Trump ally at the Justice Department. Following the 2020 election, he wanted to send a letter urging Georgia officials to convene a special legislative session to consider overturning Joe Biden's victory. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Jeffrey Clark was a Donald Trump ally at the Justice Department. Following the 2020 election, he wanted to send a letter urging Georgia officials to convene a special legislative session to consider overturning Joe Biden's victory. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

The first public hearing of the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol featured a broad look at then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

One key piece of evidence featured: A letter that a Trump ally at the Justice Department wanted to send to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, House Speaker David Ralston and Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller in late December 2020. The letter was part of Trump’s effort to enlist the Justice Department in his campaign to overturn the election in Georgia and other swing states.

By late December 2020, Trump had been claiming for weeks that the election was stolen. But state and federal investigators found no evidence of significant fraud, and judges had repeatedly dismissed lawsuits challenging the election results.

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Jeffrey Clark, a senior Justice Department official allied with Trump, wanted the department to intervene. He drafted the extraordinary letter to Georgia officials, dated Dec. 28, 2020.

The letter said the Justice Department had “significant concerns” about fraud that may have affected the outcome of the election in Georgia and other states. As evidence, it cited allegations raised in a Georgia Senate report and in a Trump lawsuit. And it urged Georgia officials to convene a special session of the General Assembly to consider invalidating Georgia’s official election results and selecting the winner themselves.

One problem: The Justice Department had no such concerns about fraud. Federal investigators had examined fraud claims in Georgia and elsewhere and found no evidence to support them. The Georgia Senate report it cited was a one-sided recounting of Trump’s allegations that made no attempt to determine whether they were true. And election experts had rejected the allegations in Trump’s lawsuit as “highly inaccurate,” “wildly unreliable” and “worthless.”

On Thursday the House committee cited Clark’s letter as evidence of Trump’s effort to use the Justice Department to overturn Biden’s victory on the false premise that the election was stolen.

“This letter is a lie,” U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, said during the hearing. “The Department of Justice had repeatedly told President Trump exactly the opposite.”

Clark’s superiors said they would never send such a letter. In an email to Clark, acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue said he had seen no evidence of fraud that would make state election results unreliable.

Donoghue said sending such the letter “would be a grave step for the department to take and it could have tremendous constitutional, political and social ramifications for the country.”

When Justice Department officials resisted these and other efforts to aide Trump’s campaign, he considered appointing Clark to be acting attorney general. Senior officials threatened to resign if Clark was appointed, and the president backed down.

But Trump remained frustrated that the department had not uncovered fraud. And he found a target for his wrath: Byung “BJay” Pak, the U.S. attorney in Atlanta. Trump blamed Pak for failing to uncover fraud, and he said Pak had to go.

Pak resigned on Jan. 4, 2021.

You can read more about efforts to undermine the 2020 election in Georgia here.