Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, appeared on NBC News's Meet the Press on Monday to discuss the interim report released last week by his panel on the DOJ pressure campaign.
The former president is said to have favored replacing Jeffrey Rosen , his acting attorney general, with Jeffrey Clark, another DOJ official who drew up a proposal to intervene in the Georgia certification process and raised doubts about the election results in other states. The former president opted not to dismiss Rosen after he was told during an early January meeting in the Oval Office that top Justice Department officials and White House counsel Pat Cipollone would resign if he went through with the plan, according to the 394-page report from the Senate Judiciary Committee, based on testimony of former officials and documents.
Chuck Todd was told by Whitehouse that investigators have "a very complete picture of the extent to which Trump was personally involved in this," and he cited Trump's overtures to Georgia officials about the election results as the focus of a separate investigation looking into whether the former president and his allies broke state laws.
But the Rhode Island Democrat maintained the question of who actually masterminded the DOJ "scheme" remains unclear and he pondered how it was funded.
"What we don't know is who was really behind this," Whitehouse insisted. "The text of the transcript and the body English of the witnesses suggests that they had very little regard for this character Jeffrey Clark, who was nominally going to be the new attorney general. They doubted his qualifications to even have that role."
"So, it's a possibility, I suppose, that he saw this moment and grabbed it, but it's an equally real possibility that he was a cog in a larger machine and we've got a lot of work to do to figure out how that machine ran through this period, who was behind it, where the money came from, and what's been going on," he added.
Todd pressed this point, questioning, "And you think it's somebody other than Donald Trump? I mean — you know, when I hear that, you're essentially saying you believe there's somebody else involved, somebody else was pulling the strings. Who could that be besides Donald Trump?"
Whitehouse said Senate investigators, who are cooperating with the House Jan. 6 Select Committee, don't yet have a clear view on that subject.
"We don't know yet, but, you know, this guy jumped into a dark money enterprise. So, he's been taken care of, Jeffrey Clark. There was a lot of activity around this with members of Congress. There's just a lot left to be learned," he added.