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The radicalization of establishment Republican lawyers


Jeffrey Clark, the nutcase right winger that Donald Trump tried to make Acting Attorney General when the Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who had replaced Non-Acting Attorney General Bill “I May Be a Falangist But I’m Also Smart Enough Not to Do That” Barr, refused to go along with Donald Trump’s plan to steal the election via fraudulent claims about voter fraud, is back in the news:

Jeffrey Clark, a Donald Trump-appointed environment law chief at the Justice Department at the center of the former President’s efforts to overturn the election, received a high-level intelligence briefing around New Year’s 2021 that did little to stop his efforts to prove foreign interference had cost Trump reelection.

Clark is now a major figure in the narrative being written in documents and testimony from former Justice Department officials who were forced to fight off his efforts to orchestrate a coup of leadership at the Justice Department and use it to help the former President. . . .

By late December, as Trump and his allies pushed conspiracies about alleged irregularities that he claimed stole the election from him, Clark told senior Justice officials that he knew of sensitive information that indicated Chinese intelligence used special kinds of thermometers to change results in machines tallying votes, people briefed on the matter said. The Justice Department by then had made clear it found no evidence of vote-changing in the election.

Clark discovered this sensitive information about this totally not insane conspiracy by surfing the Internet, which led him to request a special meeting involving the highest levels of the intelligence community, in order to share it with the very top level of the U.S. government. I get emails all the time from people requesting similar meetings, usually with attachments to thousands of pages of documents, and cc’s to dozens of other prominent, not so prominent, and who is that anyway recipients. But, this being 2020/2021 and the dying days of the first Trump administration, Crazy Person got his meeting:

At Rosen’s request, then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe provided the briefing, which drew on classified findings not yet public that showed there was no evidence that foreign interference had affected vote tallies. Rosen and other officials had acceded to his request for a classified briefing out of belief it could put a stop to his unfounded claims of election fraud, according to some of the sources.

Because if there’s one thing that will stop crazy Trumpists from having their crazy Trumpist beliefs, it’s some good old fashioned evidence. (Narrator voice: It will not stop them):

During the briefing, Clark expressed skepticism not of Ratcliffe’s personal motives, but the analysis from the intelligence community that he was presenting, the source added. Clark believed some intelligence officials were withholding certain information from Ratcliffe because they were concerned about it being politicized by the Trump administration or certain policymakers, the source also said. . . .

Clark also told colleagues he was in touch with sources who knew more, including someone Justice officials later determined was Rep. Scott Perry, a Trump ally from Pennsylvania who helped Clark get in touch with the former President. Justice Department rules limit contact between department officials and the White House, and Clark’s contacts with Trump came as a shock to his superiors. Justice Department officials are also prohibited from discussing investigations with people outside of the department.

Clark’s December 28 email, obtained by the House Oversight Committee, was sent to Rosen and Donoghue and described how Clark wanted US intelligence information from the Director of National Intelligence so he could assess whether Chinese-made digital thermometers could connect with voting machines.

“I would like to have your authorization to get a classified briefing tomorrow from ODNI led by DNI Radcliffe on foreign election interference issues,” Clark began his email, “hackers have evidence (in the public domain) that a Dominion machine accessed the Internet through a smart thermostat with a net connection trail leading back to China. ODNI may have additional classified evidence.

“Clark’s email also included his draft proposal for the Justice Department to press the state of Georgia to convene a special session to investigate the election, and assurances that the Department of Justice would look into election fraud as well. ABC News first published a copy of the email this week.

Clark btw is a 100% gold-plated establishment Republican lawyer — Harvard College, 6th circuit clerkship, Kirkland & Ellis, the Federalist Society, the second Bush administration, governing council of the ABA’s administrative law section — basically white shoe all the way. Is the fact that he’s now a lunatic Trumpist conspiracy monger hurting his standing the Establishment Republican Lawyer club? Sadly, no.

I think I’m going to ask Randy Barnett and Eugene Volokh if they’re OK hanging with their new friend as he tries to overthrow the government via illegal acts justified by various barking mad “theories.” I’ll pass on what they have to say, if anything.

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