FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 10, 2021
Department of Justice Whistleblowers File Complaints Accusing Outgoing Trump Administration Official of Politicizing the Career Civil Service Promotion Process
Political Appointee Jeffrey Bossert Clark Passed Over More Experienced Attorneys to Promote Defender of Controversial Trump Abortion Policy Just Days Before Departure
WASHINGTON — Government Accountability Project, on behalf of anonymous whistleblowers, alerted Congress and federal whistleblower agencies today about significant acts of misconduct committed by political appointee Jeffrey Bossert Clark during the last days of the Trump administration. Contrary to established practice and guidelines, Mr. Clark—then serving as Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Division—improperly inserted himself into the career staff promotion process.
In January 2021 — two days before his resignation took effect — he appointed an individual with significantly less experience and achievements than other, passed-over applicants to a career management position. What set the successful appointee apart from the other candidates was that the individual had volunteered and was part of the DOJ litigation team defending a controversial Trump administration policy. The policy—ultimately declared unconstitutional in Garza v. Hargan—barred pregnant, unaccompanied minors in federal immigration custody from obtaining abortions.
This was not Mr. Clark’s only abuse of authority in the waning days of the Trump administration. On January 3, 2021 — three days before the January 6 insurrection — Mr. Clark reportedly announced that President Trump wanted to appoint him as the Acting Attorney General, replacing the incumbent, Jeffrey Rosen. President Trump reportedly changed his mind when the entire DOJ leadership threatened to resign. And on his last day in office, Mr. Clark issued official memoranda intended to enshrine in place Trump administration environmental policies and procedures.
In a letter to the Congress and the federal agencies protecting whistleblowers, Government Accountability Project Senior Counsel David Seide wrote:
“Like other instances of misconduct by departing Trump administration officials, these abuses of authority are disturbing. Mr. Clark’s last-minute politicization of the DOJ hiring process and issuance of policy memoranda — capped by his willingness to participate in what was close to an attempted coup d’état — demands immediate, close and transparent oversight and investigations. We urge you to take prompt action.”
A copy of the letter can be found here.
Contact: Andrew Harman, Government Accountability Project Communications Director
Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.