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Sources: Plot to Unseat Acting AG Felt Like Apprentice

They tell 'NYT' DOJ lawyer nearly swayed Trump to carry out plan to upend Ga.'s election results
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2021 6:00 AM CST

(Newser) – Former President Trump's phone call to Georgia's secretary of state apparently wasn't the only maneuver used to try to influence the election. Four ex-Trump administration officials tell the New York Times that Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department lawyer who was sympathetic to Trump's false election-fraud narrative, nearly convinced Trump earlier this month to dump then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and replace him with Clark, who would then work to block Congress from certifying Georgia's results in favor of Joe Biden. Rosen got wind of the plan from Clark, and the two men met with Trump on Jan. 3, along with another DOJ official, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and other lawyers. Two officials say the meeting, with both Clark and Rosen arguing their cases to Trump, resembled an episode of the latter's reality-TV show The Apprentice.

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After about three hours, and after hearing that top DOJ officials would resign en masse if he fired Rosen, Trump backed down from the plan, the officials say. Sources back up the Times' report to the Washington Post, with one ex-White House official noting that "[Cipollone] pretty much saved Rosen's job that day." Clark is pushing back. "I categorically deny that I 'devised a plan ... to oust' Jeff Rosen," he tells the Post. He tells the Times, meanwhile, that its report contains "inaccuracies," though he didn't specify what those were. "There was a candid discussion of options and pros and cons with the president," he says, adding that the papers' sources are "distorting" what happened. A Trump adviser tells the Post: "President Trump has consistently argued that our justice system should be investigating the broader, rampant election fraud that has plagued our system for many years. Any assertion to the contrary is false and being driven by those who wish to keep the system broken." More here. (Read more Justice Department stories.)

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