A Justice Department official appointed by Donald Trump attempted to block results from the 2020 election by pushing a wild theory that votes may have been hacked by Chinese intelligence agents armed with digital thermometers, according to emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee.
Jeffrey Clark, who was the head of the DOJ’s civil division at the time, told senior department officials that he had information indicating the Chinese government could use digital thermometers to change results in Dominion machines that were tallying votes, sources told CNN.
“Hackers have evidence … that a Dominion machine accessed the Internet through a smart thermostat with a net connection trail leading back to China,” Clark wrote in an email.
The push to hold up the election was part of Trump’s campaign to not leave the White House, even though Joe Biden had been elected president. Trump told then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in December to “just say the election was corrupt, and leave the rest to me,” according to notes taken of his phone call, which were also obtained by the Oversight Committee.
The imagined connection between China and the U.S. presidential election is a key element of QAnon conspiracy theories. The vote audit in Arizona’s Maricopa County — led by Cyber Ninjas CEO and QAnon believer Doug Logan — has also examined ballots for evidence of “bamboo fibers,” which some have baselessly claimed could prove interference by the Chinese government.
Clark also wrote a draft letter, published by ABC News, in which he urged Georgia officials to call a special session of the state legislature to challenge the vote there. He falsely claimed in the letter that DOJ had identified “significant concerns that may have impacted of the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia.”
Rosen refused to take any action to block results — including signing off on the Georgia letter — despite pressure from Trump and Clark, noting that there was no evidence of any election fraud.
Clark insisted on pushing his claim of Chinese interference even after an intelligence briefing for the Justice Department stating that there was “no evidence that foreign interference had affected vote tallies,” CNN reported.
Trump was reportedly considering firing Rosen at the time and replacing him with Clark so he could remain in the White House.
Rosen had a two-hour meeting on Friday with the Office of the Inspector General of the Justice Department, and provided closed-door testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Saturday about Clark’s attempts to “subvert” the presidential election, The New York Times reported.
He spoke about five different encounters with Clark, according to the Times.
Rosen described exchanges with Clark in which he continued to press colleagues to make statements about the election “that they found to be untrue,” a person familiar with the interviews told the Times. He reportedly also revealed that he learned Clark had had unauthorized conversations with Trump about using the Justice Department to publicly “cast doubt” on Biden’s win.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) called Rosen’s accounts “dramatic evidence of how intent Trump was in overthrowing the election.”
Clark, who left the DOJ in January, could not be reached for comment.
But he told Bloomberg in January that he had engaged in a “candid discussion of options and pros and cons with the president,” apparently concerning the election. He said he couldn’t reveal “specifics” because they were confidential.
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