In early January 2021, as then-President Donald Trump plotted to replace the acting attorney general with a loyalist willing to act on baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, a top Justice Department official texted another official, “Justice is our client,” adding that she would quit if Trump carried out his scheme.
The text messages were released last week in response to American Oversight’s Freedom of Information Act litigation for communications related to the former president’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to aid in his efforts to overturn his elections. CNN first reported on the records on Friday.
Previous news reports and congressional investigations revealed that Trump nixed his plan to fire then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and replace him with Jeffrey Clark — who indicated he was willing to direct the Justice Department to investigate unfounded voter-fraud allegations — after he was told during a Jan. 3 Oval Office meeting that several top department officials had threatened to resign if Rosen were ousted.
The texts released last week by the Justice Department were sent the evening of Jan. 3 by Claire Murray, then a principal deputy associate attorney general, to Patrick Hovakimian, another top official. “Team Rosen,” Murray texted. “Justice is our client.” Murray added that she would “walk” if he were “fired for not publicly espousing a falsehood.”
Hovakimian replied that he agreed. “Hands down I’ll be gone too,” he texted.
In response to another FOIA request from American Oversight, the Justice Department said that it was withholding in full a memo containing talking points regarding the potential for the department to take action in the Supreme Court or other courts challenging the outcome of the election.
These responses come as the Jan. 6 committee has ramped up its investigation of attack on the U.S. Capitol and Trump’s efforts to subvert a free and fair election, releasing a number of communications showing White House communications with members of Congress and partisan actors. In a message sent on Jan. 3, a yet-unknown sender texted White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows: “I heard Jeff Clark is getting put in on Monday. That’s amazing, it will make a lot of patriots happy.”
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