The circumstances surrounding Pak’s departure are among the lingering mysteries of these chaotic events in early January. There are some indications that he was ousted from the White House for refusing to pursue the false claims of electoral fraud that were pushing Trump in Georgia as congressional confirmation of the election drew near. After Pak’s surprise resignation on January 4, Trump replaced him with his US attorney in Savannah, bypassing the normal chain of succession.
Documents released by the House of Representatives in an investigation into Trump’s pressure on the Justice Department to back up his allegations of electoral fraud show that Pak resigned after an important weekend that Trump was considering overhauling the DOJ’s governance because they didn’t get far found widespread fraud.
Pak is one of six former DOJ political representatives who have been given the go-ahead by the Biden government to speak to the committee about Trump’s election fraud.
Trump’s move to hire Bobby Christine, another US attorney in Georgia, as Pak’s replacement, raised suspicions as to why Pak had resigned. Days earlier, on his infamous call on Jan.
Prior to his immediate resignation on January 4th, Pak had told his staff that he planned to stay until his inauguration. Wall Street Journal and New York Times reports later revealed that acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Donoghue spoke to Pak on the phone the night before his resignation. On the call, according to the Times Pak, Donoghue said the White House was frustrated that he had failed to investigate electoral fraud in the state. Pak himself has not said anything publicly about why he left his post earlier than planned.
On the afternoon of January 6, the shock was overshadowed, first by the Democratic double victories in the Georgia Senate elections, and then by the uprising in the US Capitol.
Days later, Christine said on a private call with the Atlanta office workers that “it’s just not election issues that the office is investigating,” according to the Atlanta Journal constitution.
An investigation into Trump’s election reversal crusade is gathering pace
The Senate Committee has already spoken to two former Justice Department officials who witnessed key episodes in Trump’s print campaign. Donoghue spoke to the committee on Friday, and on Saturday the committee interviewed his former supervisor Jeffrey Rosen, who served as Trump’s assistant attorney general after William Barr resigned in December.
Much of their testimony centered on the actions of Jeffrey Clark, another of the department’s top Trump appointees, who tried to involve the department directly in Trump’s efforts to reverse the election results. Rosen’s testimony highlighted five episodes in which Clark left the chain of command to enforce the fraud allegations, a source familiar with the interview told CNN.
Senate Justice Chairman Dick Durbin announced plans to interview Pak in comments to reporters on Capitol Hill Monday.
“It seems to be going slowly … but progress is being made,” said Durbin.
Durbin has also hinted that he plans to interview former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Notes on what happened before Pak left
Clark’s antics – which, CNN reported, included spreading a false theory that Chinese intelligence tampered with vote counting machines with special thermometers – has drawn a lot of attention as lawmakers in both the House and Senate investigate Trump’s interference in the department.
However, Pak was mentioned in some of the Justice Department’s internal documents already released by the House of Representatives oversight committee.
On January 1, the day before the Trump Raffensperger call, Rosen gave Pak’s cell phone number to Clark, according to emails released by the committee. It was shared on an email chain titled “atlanta” in which Clark hinted at his interest in a taped “video”.
On January 3rd, the night Donoghue and Pak were alleged to be on the phone, Donoghue Pak sent an email asking “Please call as soon as possible.”
Until the dramatic episode in early January, Pak had received little attention during his tenure as head of the US law firm in Atlanta. Prior to serving as a Republican MP for the Georgia House of Representatives, he also served as the U.S. assistant attorney in the Atlanta office. He had a reputation for being a straight shooter in Georgia’s legal community.
In addition to the formal resignation letters he submitted and the internal announcement of his departure to the Atlanta Attorney’s Office, Pak also emailed his U.S. attorneys on Jan. 4, according to documents released by House Oversight. In it he said that, as a group, they “made our country better and safer, even though we faced unprecedented challenges”.
CNN’s Evan Perez, Katelyn Polantz and Manu Raju contributed to this report.