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House Jan. 6 panel votes to hold ex-DOJ official Jeffrey Clark in contempt for defying subpoena

  • December 02, 2021

defying the panel’s subpoena and to urge the department to prosecute him criminally.

But Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who heads the committee, said Clark’s lawyer notified the committee Tuesday that Clark would reappear before the committee and refuse to answer questions based on his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The session will be scheduled Saturday, and Clark will be forced to refuse to answer specific questions based on his constitutional right, Thompson said.

A House vote to hold Clark in contempt and recommend the Justice Department prosecute him could be averted if he appears and “cures” his refusal so far to testify, said Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

“We will not allow anyone to run out the clock,” Thompson said.

If prosecuted, Clark would become the second aide to former President Donald Trump to face charges for his defiance of the investigation. Political strategist Steve Bannon vowed to fight his criminal charges.

The House committee subpoenaed Clark as part of its investigation to piece together what led to the attack on the Capitol and how the White House responded that day. About 140 police officers were injured. Police fatally shot a woman outside the House chamber as the counting of Electoral College votes was temporarily halted.

Thompson said Clark appeared to be central to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.

three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held a hearing Tuesday about whether Trump’s claim of executive privilege should keep the records confidential or they should be released because President Joe Biden waived the privilege.

Clark seen as key player in Trump’s efforts to undo election

Clark, a former acting assistant attorney general during the final days of the Trump administration, submitted a letter to the committee through his attorney claiming that he would decline to testify Nov. 5, citing Trump’s assertion of executive privilege, attorney-client privilege and as part of the executive’s deliberative process.

Clark’s lawyer, Harry MacDougald, said the 12-page letter explained why “we do not intend to answer any questions or produce any documents today, but we have appeared in compliance with the subpoena in order to assert those objections, as opposed to just refusing to show up,” according to the transcript.

More:Former acting AG Jeffrey Rosen provides 7 hours of testimony before Senate panel investigating election interference

The committee subpoenaed Clark on Oct. 13, after he emerged as a central figure in the former president’s efforts to deny Biden’s election. Clark was subpoenaed to discuss his efforts to enlist the Justice Department in an effort to sow doubt in election results in Georgia.

Clark was featured prominently in a damning Senate Judiciary Committee report that found he attempted to countermand the top leaders at the department by drafting a letter to Georgia officials seeking to delay the state’s certification of election results. 

Timeline: How the storming of the U.S. Capitol unfolded on Jan. 6

The Senate report also recounted a contentious Oval Office meeting Jan. 3, when Richard Donoghue, then-acting deputy attorney general, warned that a mass resignation of Justice Department officials and federal prosecutors would follow if Trump moved to replace Rosen with Clark to aid the president’s election subversion scheme.

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