WASHINGTON — Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Division official involved 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, in search of info on Mr. Trump’s makes an attempt to subvert the election. The Home has already voted to seek out one Trump ally, Stephen Okay. Bannon, in criminal contempt of Congress for stonewalling the inquiry.
“Mr. Clark’s full failure to cooperate immediately is unacceptable,” stated Consultant Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee. “As prescribed by the Home guidelines, I’ve thought of Mr. Clark’s declare of privilege and rejected it. He has a really quick time to rethink and cooperate absolutely. We’d like the knowledge that he’s withholding, and we’re keen to take sturdy 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 info 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 not reply deposition questions presently.”
Mr. Bannon additionally cited Mr. Trump’s directive for former aides and advisers to invoke immunity and refrain from turning over documents that is perhaps protected below govt privilege in his refusal to cooperate. A federal decide expressed skepticism on Thursday concerning the deserves of Mr. Trump’s lawsuit towards the committee in search of to block from release at least 770 pages of documents associated to the Capitol riot.
Beneath federal legislation, 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 1 yr.
Mr. Thompson urged such a penalty may 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 in search of testimony and data from Mr. Clark, a spotlight that signifies it’s deepening its scrutiny of the basis causes of the assault, which disrupted a congressional session known 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 appearing legal professional normal throughout the Trump administration, and beforehand sat for a prolonged interview with the committee.
“His refusal to reply questions concerning 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 an announcement. “It’s astounding that somebody who so just lately held a place of public belief to uphold the Structure would now cover 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 legislation.”
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 road closures to get to and from his workplace at Important Justice,” the letter stated. “Nor did Mr. Clark have any obligations to supervise safety on the Capitol or have the power 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 involved in other efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power, 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 advisable holding a information convention asserting that the Justice Division was investigating allegations of voter fraud, consistent with 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 among 19 issued by the committee. The panel has interviewed greater than 150 witnesses to this point, based on an individual with information of its actions.