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DOJ watchdog opens probe into possible attempt to overturn 2020 election results

The probe follows a New York Times report that described an effort by former President Trump to use the Justice Department to help overturn the election results.
Jeff Clark
Jeffrey Clark, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington on Sept. 14, 2020,.Susan Walsh / AP file

The Justice Department Inspector General has launched an investigation into whether any former or current officials engaged in an “improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome of the 2020 presidential election,” the office announced Monday.

The opening of the investigation follows reporting from The New York Times — and confirmed by NBC News — that former President Donald Trump unsuccessfully tried to get the Justice Department to take legal action in hopes of changing the election result.

“The investigation will encompass all relevant allegations that may arise that are within the scope of the OIG’s jurisdiction,” Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said.

“The OIG has jurisdiction to investigate allegations concerning the conduct of former and current DOJ employees,” Horowitz added. “The OIG's jurisdiction does not extend to allegations against other government officials.”

The Times reported on Friday night that Jeffrey Clark, the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division, had devised a plan with Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and use the Justice Department to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results.

The Times reported that top department officials decided on a conference call that they would resign if Rosen was dismissed by Trump. The prospect of mass resignations helped to persuade Trump to keep Rosen in place, the Times reported.

A Justice Department official familiar with the events confirmed the account to NBC News.

Clark could not immediately be reached for comment.