In his last weeks in office, Donald Trump started to get desperate. As his efforts to overturn the election results with his baseless claims of voter fraud kept collapsing, he suddenly started pressuring the Justice Department to go straight to the Supreme Court to overturn the election results, reports the Wall Street Journal. But he was unable to get senior officials, including then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former Attorney General William Barr and former acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, to go along with his plan. Trump’s attorneys outside government were trying to convince the then-president of the plan, but even his White House counsel, Pat Cipollone and his deputy, Patrick Philbin, objected to the idea.
As Trump kept pushing the move, the senior Justice Department officials continued to insist that there was no basis to challenge the election results. And besides, they said, the federal government couldn’t really make the argument considering it had no legal interest in who actually won the election. “He wanted us, the United States, to sue one or more of the states directly in the Supreme Court,” a former administration official said. The official said that “the pressure got really intense” after a lawsuit Texas filed in the Supreme Court against four states Biden won was dismissed in early December. An outside lawyer who was working for Trump even wrote a brief that the then-president wanted to be filed in the name of the Justice Department, but officials refused.
It was after this plan failed that Trump really got fixated on replacing Rosen with an ally, Jeffrey Clark, the acting chief of the civil division. Several outlets had previously reported on the plan to dismiss Rosen and get Clark into the role of acting attorney general after he made it clear to the then-president that he would take a more hands-on approach in helping Trump with his election challenges. He ultimately backed down after senior Justice Department officials all said they would resign if Rosen was fired in the last weeks of Trump’s presidency.
Earlier, the New York Times reported that Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry played a key role in this plan as he was the one who first presented Clark as a possible alternative to Rosen. Perry, a member of the Freedom Caucus, told Trump that Clark was an ally who agreed with the president’s claims of voter fraud and then later introduced the two men.