Trump Justice Dept. Official Defies Request by Jan. 6 Panel

WASHINGTON — Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Division official concerned in former President Donald J. Trump’s frenzied efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, refused to cooperate on Friday with the Home committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol assault, resulting in a pointy rebuke from the committee’s chairman.

The standoff between Mr. Clark and the committee is the second such confrontation since Congress started investigating the circumstances surrounding the Capitol violence, looking for data on Mr. Trump’s makes an attempt to subvert the election. The Home has already voted to search out one Trump ally, Stephen Ok. Bannon, in felony contempt of Congress for stonewalling the inquiry.

“Mr. Clark’s full failure to cooperate right this moment is unacceptable,” stated Consultant Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee. “As prescribed by the Home guidelines, I’ve thought-about Mr. Clark’s declare of privilege and rejected it. He has a really brief time to rethink and cooperate totally. We want the knowledge that he’s withholding, and we’re prepared to take robust measures to carry him accountable.”

Mr. Clark appeared earlier than the committee on Friday however delivered a letter saying he wouldn’t reply substantive questions. He cited attorney-client privilege defending his conversations with Mr. Trump.

“He’s duty-bound to not present testimony to your committee overlaying data protected by the previous president’s assertion of govt privilege,” Mr. Clark’s lawyer, Harry W. MacDougald, wrote in a letter to the committee, which was reported earlier by Politico. “Mr. Clark can’t reply deposition questions at the moment.”

Mr. Bannon additionally cited Mr. Trump’s directive for former aides and advisers to invoke immunity and chorus from turning over paperwork that is perhaps protected underneath govt privilege in his refusal to cooperate. A federal decide expressed skepticism on Thursday in regards to the deserves of Mr. Trump’s lawsuit in opposition to the committee looking for to dam from launch at the very least 770 pages of paperwork associated to the Capitol riot.

Below federal regulation, any particular person summoned as a congressional witness who refuses to conform can face a misdemeanor cost that carries a high-quality of $100 to $100,000 and a jail sentence of 1 month to at least one 12 months.

Mr. Thompson recommended such a penalty might await Mr. Clark, as soon as a little-known official who repeatedly pushed his colleagues on the Justice Division to assist Mr. Trump undo his loss.

The committee has issued a subpoena looking for testimony and data from Mr. Clark, a spotlight that signifies it’s deepening its scrutiny of the foundation causes of the assault, which disrupted a congressional session referred to as to rely the electoral votes formalizing President Biden’s victory.

Mr. Thompson contrasted Mr. Clark’s refusal to cooperate with the actions of Jeffrey A. Rosen, who was performing legal professional basic through the Trump administration, and beforehand sat for a prolonged interview with the committee.

“His refusal to reply questions in regards to the former president’s try to make use of the Division of Justice to overturn the election is in direct distinction to his supervisors on the division,” Mr. Thompson stated in a press release. “It’s astounding that somebody who so lately held a place of public belief to uphold the Structure would now disguise behind imprecise claims of privilege by a former president, refuse to reply questions on an assault on our democracy and proceed an assault on the rule of regulation.”

Mr. MacDougald’s letter argued that Mr. Clark had nothing to do with the occasions of Jan. 6.

“He has knowledgeable me he labored from dwelling that day to keep away from wrestling with potential avenue closures to get to and from his workplace at Major Justice,” the letter stated. “Nor did Mr. Clark have any obligations to supervise safety on the Capitol or have the flexibility to deploy any Division of Justice personnel or sources there.”

However the Senate Judiciary Committee stated in a latest report there was credible proof that Mr. Clark was concerned in different efforts to interrupt the peaceable switch of energy, citing his proposal to ship a letter to state legislators in Georgia and others encouraging them to delay certification of election outcomes.

The Senate committee additionally stated Mr. Clark beneficial holding a information convention asserting that the Justice Division was investigating allegations of voter fraud, according to Mr. Trump’s repeated calls for, regardless of a scarcity of proof of any fraud. Each proposals had been rejected by senior leaders within the division.

The New York Instances reported in January that Mr. Clark additionally mentioned with Mr. Trump a plan to oust Mr. Rosen, and wield the division’s energy to drive state lawmakers in Georgia to overturn its presidential election outcomes. Mr. Clark denied the report, which was based mostly on the accounts of 4 former Trump administration officers who requested to not be named due to worry of retaliation.

Mr. Clark’s subpoena is one in every of 19 issued by the committee. The panel has interviewed greater than 150 witnesses to date, in response to an individual with data of its actions.

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