Donald Trump considered replacing then-acting US attorney general Jeffrey A. Rosen with a Justice Department lawyer who would help him force Georgia officials to overturn the state’s election result, US media reported late Friday.
The New York Times said Trump only decided against the move when told that all remaining top officials at the Justice Department would resign en masse if the plan went ahead.
The news, also reported in the Washington Post, comes as Trump is set to face a Senate trial for “incitement of insurrection” over his role in whipping up supporters with unfounded claims of election fraud before they stormed the US Capitol in early January.
Trump narrowly lost Georgia to Joe Biden in the November presidential election, in a vote he baselessly claimed was rigged.
The reports describe Trump’s increasing frustration with Rosen’s refusal to wield the power of the Justice Department to interfere in the count.
He and Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department lawyer who supported Trump’s assertions that the election was stolen, allegedly came up with a plan to replace Rosen with Clark.
But at a three-hour showdown involving the three men, which officials cited in the New York Times compared to an episode of Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” the then-president backed down after being told the move would prompt mass resignations.
Clark categorically denied that he devised any plan to oust Rosen and said there were inaccuracies in the reporting.
Trump, Rosen and the US Justice Department have not publicly responded to the allegations.
In early January, a leaked audio tape in which Trump pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes to overturn the defeat sent shockwaves across Washington. AFP