Jeffrey Bossert Clark
commons.wikimedia.org

Time for your Daily Coup Update! Because Your Wonkette will be tapping out 'splainers on the Previous Occupant's crazy schemes to illegally stay in office for a long, long time.

When last we left our villain, he had been introduced to devious Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark by an unknown Pennsylvania politician. "That you, Scott Perry?" we wondered. And we were right. (Whodathunkit, right?) The New York Times confirms it was indeed that very GOP Pennsylvania congressman who hooked Donald Trump up with Clark, the (acting) head of the Civil Division, where they hatched a plot to shove aside (acting) Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, Clark's former mentor at Kirkland & Ellis, and use the DOJ's authority to force Georgia to throw out its electoral votes based on spurious charges of fraud.

In a normal, functional Justice Department, the president does not have direct contact with lower level attorneys behind the back of the attorney general. But let's not get waylaid on that particular bit of fuckery, because there's so much more!


Yesterday the Wall Street Journal published more details of Trump's illegal effort to weaponize the Justice Department in support of his campaign's gazillion frivolous lawsuits. Former Attorney General Bill Barr has recently gone to great pains to paint himself as standing up to Trump's "bullshit" election fraud claims. But in December, Barr himself got down in the muck, asking Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall (yes, they are all named Jeffrey, go figure) about putting the weight of the DOJ behind Texas's dipshit lawsuit seeking to overturn the election results in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania. Wall told him to pound sand, after which Trump produced a lawsuit drafted by one of his attorneys (that you, John Eastman?), and tried to get the Justice Department to file it as an official government brief.

"He wanted us, the United States, to sue one or more of the states directly in the Supreme Court," a former administration official told WSJ. "The pressure got really intense."

Maybe for non-lawyers, this isn't ringing ten thousand alarm bells. Click here to let some lawyers tell you how wildly, shockingly improper this whole thing was, particularly Jeffrey Clark's conduct.

As for Clark, the Times has a piece on him with major "Neighbors Express Surprise That Mild Mannered Man Turned Out To Be Serial Killer, But There Were Signs" vibes.

"The story kind of shocked me because this is not the Jeff that I know," his former colleague Theodore H. Frank told the paper. "I know Jeff as a guy who really cares about the rule of law and, you know, just a rumpled, thoughtful lawyer who is an intellectual — not a Machiavellian backstabber."

But he seems to have broken bad after Jody Hunt, the head of the Civil Division, abruptly quit over the summer and Clark maneuvered to get himself named to the position.

After he took the helm of the civil division in September, colleagues began seeing flashes of unusual behavior. Mr. Clark's name appeared on eyebrow-raising briefs, including what would turn out to be an unsuccessful effort to inject the government into a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Trump by a woman who has said he raped her more than two decades ago. He also signed onto an attempt to use the Justice Department to sue a former friend of the first lady at the time, Melania Trump, for writing a tell-all memoir.

He made clear to lawyers who produced draft briefs that they must spell out his name in full, Jeffrey Bossert Clark, according to a former official.

Others said he mounted an idiosyncratic push to remove the word "acting" from his official title — acting assistant attorney general of the civil division — citing an old department legal opinion from the 1980s. Officials denied his request.

Ain't he a peach?

The Times did manage to find someone to defend Clark, though. Well, sort of.

"This is the first wave of character assassination, of people going after the most effective lawyers in the Trump administration," former EPA Chief of Staff Mandy Gunasekara sniffed, perplexed that people were making such a fuss over a coup attempt that wasn't even successful.

Well, we'll probably learn a whole lot about Mr. Clark in the coming days. Not only is the Senate about to get so far up the ass end of this proto-coup — LOL is that even a crime? — that a proctologist would blush, but DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz just announced he'll be on the case, too.

The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is initiating an investigation into whether any former or current DOJ official engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election. The investigation will encompass all relevant allegations that may arise that are within the scope of the OIG's jurisdiction. The OIG has jurisdiction to investigate allegations concerning the conduct of former and current DOJ employees.

Let's take a wildass guess that the current DOJ isn't going to blow off referrals to prosecute for contempt of congressional subpoena the way the last one did. And lotsa luck getting the Biden White House to assert some made up, blanket privilege for presidential communications.

As a final WOMP WOMP, Bloomberg Law notes that Clark is now "radioactive" and may not be able to take advantage of that famous revolving door to get his old job back at Kirkland & Ellis. "That's B-O-S-S-E-R-T C-L-A-R-K," he can tell the lady at the unemployment office. And Congress, as he raises his right hand and promises not to lie.

Lawyer up, asshole. And pass the popcorn.

And have an OPEN THREAD!

[NYT / WSJ / NYT]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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