Ultimately, after hours of deliberation, Trump stuck with Rosen. But if Trump had chosen Clark, it’s not difficult to see what likely would have followed.
Clark’s draft letter continued, “the Governor of Georgia should immediately call a special session to consider this important and urgent matter.” The letter concludes that “we share with you our view that the Georgia General Assembly has implied authority under the Constitution of the United States to call itself into special session for [t]he limited purpose of considering issues pertaining to the appointment of Presidential Electors.”
Clark sought a sign-off on the draft by both Rosen and acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue. But they unequivocally rejected Clark’s letter.
But had it been sent, it would have put the Justice Department’s stamp of approval on any efforts by Georgia officials to discard their state’s actual vote, and instead award their electors to Trump. We don’t know whether Georgia officials would have complied — some Georgia Republicans, like Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, resisted Trump’s worst impulses when he tried to interfere with the election — but a letter from the Justice Department certainly would have opened the door to any Republican lawmaker willing to throw the election over to Trump.
And it could have gotten even worse. There’s a chilling two-word hint in Clark’s letter: “multiple states.” If Georgia had gone along with this scheme to subvert its citizens’ votes and award its electors to Trump, then other Republican-controlled states would have had a blueprint, and an imprimatur, to do the same. It only would have taken two more states — say, Arizona and Wisconsin — to swing the entire 2020 election to Trump.
Finally, Garland has an obligation to meaningfully investigate and consider potential criminal charges relating to the coup attempt. Reasonable minds can differ on whether charges would ultimately stick, but there’s more than enough “predication,” as prosecutors call it — factual foundation — that demands that Garland’s Justice Department at least take a serious look.
Don’t let anyone minimize what Trump, Clark and others nearly pulled off. We now know for sure that they were perilously close to turning the Justice Department into a weapon to assist in an attempted coup.