‘Reasonable Minds Can Differ’: American Oversight Publishes Messages from ‘Co-Conspirator 4’ Jeffrey Clark from January 2021

Citing records obtained and shared by American Oversight, the Washington Post on Thursday published a report on how former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark has become a “rising legal star for Republicans” — despite his role in helping former President Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

Clark has been identified as “Co-Conspirator 4” in the indictment of Trump brought by special counsel Jack Smith on Tuesday. The indictment alleges that Clark was one of six co-conspirators enlisted by Trump to “assist him in his criminal efforts,” and details how Clark sought to use the power of the U.S. Justice Department to advance the former president’s lies about election fraud, including by instructing states to consider submitting to Congress a separate slate of Trump electors.

“Clark has won admiration within the pro-Trump wing of the GOP,” wrote the Post’s Isaac Stanley-Becker, “rather than being shunned for plotting to use Justice Department authority to strong-arm states into disregarding the will of voters.”

Trump had even considered firing Jeffrey Rosen, then the acting attorney general, and replacing him with Clark, a loyalist who would do Trump’s bidding. But the plan was dropped after a Jan. 3, 2021, Oval Office meeting at which several senior DOJ officials threatened to resign if Trump went through with it. Records previously obtained and published by American Oversight, and reported on by CNN, include a text message from top DOJ official Claire Murray from that day in which she said that she would quit if Rosen were fired, writing, “Justice is our client.” 

The previously unpublished records highlighted by the Post include emails exchanged in the final days of the Trump administration, after the Jan. 6 insurrection and as Clark was preparing his exit. Two days after the attack, Clark emailed Rosen to say he planned to leave the Justice Department at noon on Jan. 14, apparently betraying no qualms about his role in trying to overturn a free and fair election.

“I believe I’ve left a legacy of accomplishment starting after my confirmation in 2018,” Clark wrote. “On most matters, we have been in total and vigorous agreement or in virtually all situations in at least in substantial agreement. But no one can agree on all things and reasonable minds can differ. Yet friendships and mutual professional respect endure.” 

Rosen did not respond to the email, according to the records, but a few days later he forwarded the message to Murray. “I am not going to respond to Jeff Clark’s message given the events that took place with him,” Rosen wrote. “Those were not things on which ‘reasonable minds can differ’ and simply move along. It appears he still does not recognize how harmful his actions and proposals were.”

Other records obtained by American Oversight include text messages exchanged by Clark and Rosen in advance of the Jan. 3 White House meeting. “Meadows says 615,” Clark texted late that afternoon, apparently referring to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows.

American Oversight also published an email from former Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, sent to Clark on Jan. 5, 2021. “I am flying to DC tonight for the rally,” Paxton wrote. “Do you have time to meet after that or on Thursday?” American Oversight has separately sued the Texas attorney general’s office for emails sent by Paxton on or around Jan. 6, when Paxton spoke at the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol.