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US Justice Dept. to Probe if Employees Sought to Alter Election Outcome

Earlier, reports emerged detailing that former US President Donald Trump and Jeffrey Clark, a lawyer with the US Department of Justice (DoJ), had been working hand-in-hand on ways to cast doubt over the results of the highly contested 2020 presidential election and strengthen Trump's repeatedly shot down legal battles.

Michael Horowitz, the DoJ's inspector general, revealed in a Monday-released statement that this office would be initiating an investigation to determine whether any of the agency’s employees sought to alter the outcome of the 2020 election.

"The DoJ Office of the Inspector General... 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," Horowitz said in a statement, which underscored that the probe would "encompass all relevant allegations that may arise."

However, the statement noted that while the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has the reach to investigate allegations against former and and current DoJ employees, its "jurisdiction does not extend to allegations against other government officials."

"The OIG is making this statement, consistent with DOJ policy, to reassure the public that an appropriate agency is investigating the allegations.  Consistent with OIG policy, we will not comment further on the investigation until it is completed.  When our investigation is concluded, we will proceed with our usual process for releasing our findings publicly in accordance with relevant laws, and DOJ and OIG policies," the release concludes.

The department's announcement came days after the New York Times reported on Friday that Clark, who served as the former assistant attorney general, held discussions with Trump that touched on measures to boot acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen from his newly-acquired post, challenge the election results and spread claims that the 2020 election was riddled with fraud - an unsubstantiated allegation that was voiced on multiple occasions by the Trump team before and after the November election.

In fact, months before the start of the US election, the Trump camp, as well as the former president, voiced allegations that election fraud would be rampant, as many Americans opted to use the mail-in ballot system amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And then, as the election was called for US President Joe Biden, the Trump team doubled down on claims that ranged from votes being submitted by deceased Americans to voting systems being rigged in favor for the Democratic candidate. Both allegations have been rejected and even prompted the launch of two lawsuits by Dominion Voting Systems, which came under fire during the election cycle.

The Times article notes that since Rosen had refused Trump's calls to place pressure on the Georgia state over the electoral vote count, the former commander-in-chief wanted him fired and replaced with Clark; however, Trump ultimately stood down after several department officials vowed to resign in protest.

For his part, Clark told the Times that the reported accounts, which were based off interviews with four unidentified former Trump administration officials, "contained inaccuracies." The official also "categorically denied" he ever took part in attempting to oust Rosen or push any false narratives surrounding the election.

“My practice is to rely on sworn testimony to assess disputed factual claims,” Clark told the outlet, highlighting that he was a signer on a DoJ request that sought to reject a lawsuit that called on former US Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election results.

“There was a candid discussion of options and pros and cons with the president. It is unfortunate that those who were part of a privileged legal conversation would comment in public about such internal deliberations, while also distorting any discussions.”

Clark did not provide specifics of the discussions, as "legal privileges" prevented him from doing so.

The DoJ's latest move also came after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the findings of the Times report "unconscionable," and urged for the inspector general to initiate an investigation into the development.
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