US federal agency launches probe into alleged bid by Trump to undermine election results

The probe by the Office of the Inspector General of the US Department of Justice comes in light of a report that Trump had planned to fire his acting attorney general and launch an electoral fraud investigation to pressure Georgia State officials

January 26, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
An anti-Trump protest in the aftermath of the Capitol Hill riot. (Photo: Refuse Fascism/Twitter

The saga of exposing Donald Trump’s abuse of power continues in the United States, as the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the US Department of Justice (DOJ), a federal oversight agency, launched an investigation on Monday, January 25. The investigation concerns an alleged plot to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election. This comes just a day after the US Senate received the single article of impeachment from the House of Representatives against the former president.

The investigation by the OIG comes in the light of a recent report by the New York Times, which alleged Trump and one of the officials in his administration, Jeffrey Clark, were looking at for options to push for an electoral investigation to jeopardize the election results.

In a statement, inspector general Michael Horowitz stated that 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. The OIG’s jurisdiction does not extend to allegations against other government officials.”

The NYT’s report revealed that Trump had considered replacing the then acting attorney-general, Jeffrey Rosen, with his loyalist, acting head of the civil division of DOJ and deputy attorney general, Clark. The purpose behind such a plan was to allow Trump to launch a federal electoral fraud investigation into the presidential election in the State of Georgia, while it conducted a recount of the votes. The intent was to pressure Georgia officials to overturn the results in his favor.

Clark was stated to have formulated the plan, which was eventually aborted. After threats of mass resignation by senior federal attorneys in the DOJ, Trump decided against sacking Rosen. Democrats have raised alarm over the expose, with the Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer calling it “attempted sedition.”

Ever since the riot by pro-Trump protesters on January 6 at the US Capitol building, senior government officials and political leaders from both the leading political parties have called for serious action against Trump’s role in undermining democratic institutions. The impeachment article passed by the House of Representatives, earlier this month, charges Trump with the crime of inciting an insurrection against the government.

Many have argued that Trump’s actions, while in office, including his repeated and unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud in the US presidential election, publicly disputing the results, and his provocative speech calling for his supporters to “march” on the Capitol while the certification of votes was underway, were behind inciting the mob to storm the Congress, leading to five fatalities.

The impeachment motion passed in the final week of Trump’s tenure as president, will now lead to the Senate holding a trial against him. The Senate which is divided right down the middle, between Democrats and Republicans, will have to vote with a two-thirds majority to convict Trump.

Trump will be the first president to face an impeachment procedure after his time in office. The impeachment trial will also witness some serious differences in the Republican Party, with the hard-right sections supporting Trump and the conservative group divided over whether or not to hold Trump responsible.

The Democrats will require 17 of the 50 votes from the Republican benches to convict Trump, and only a handful have shown an inclination, if any, to convict. Several Republican senators have taken cover behind the fact that Trump lost the presidential election and is currently out of office for impeachment. The Democrats, on the other hand, argued that leaving office can not be a “get-of-jail-free card” for not only Trump, but also other federal officials complicit in the riot and other crimes and misdemeanors of the Trump administration.

Congressional leaders and other state-level officials are already calling for Trump to be held responsible for his brazen attempts to pressure officials into manipulating results, and a full-fledged congressional investigation into the Capitol Hill riot.