Jan. 6 investigators prepare to hold former Trump admin official in contempt
The Jan. 6 select committee is gearing up to hold a former top Trump administration official in contempt of Congress, a spokesperson for the panel announced Monday.
The House’s panel investigating the Capitol attack is poised to target Jeffrey Clark, who helmed the Justice Department’s environmental division during Trump’s presidency. If the full House green lights the move, Clark will become the second person referred to the Justice Department on contempt charges for refusing to comply with the probe — after ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
On Nov. 5, Clark appeared for a deposition with Jan. 6 committee investigators. But he refused to answer their most pressing questions, and instead presented them with a 12-page letter saying he believed executive privilege shielded him from sharing information. The panel rejected that argument.
According to the announcement, the committee will have a business meeting on Wednesday. At that business meeting, members will review a report detailing the case for contempt against Clark. The panel will then likely vote to pass the matter to the House floor, where a vote is all but certain to refer Clark’s case to the Justice Department for criminal charges.
Clark participated in former President Donald Trump’s strategizing to try to reverse the results of the 2020 election. According to documents and witness testimony provided to Congressional investigators, he urged two other top DOJ officials to send a letter to state lawmakers in the last weeks of the Trump administration, claiming the FBI had found evidence of major voter fraud. Those officials refused, as the FBI had found no such evidence.
Trump and Clark also discussed the possibility of removing the acting attorney general and installing Clark in his place, witnesses have testified. Top lawyers in the White House and DOJ threatened to quit en masse if that removal happened. The idea never came to fruition.
The Jan. 6 committee moved to hold Bannon in contempt in October, a move followed quickly by a full House vote to hold him in contempt and refer the matter to DOJ. On Nov. 12, the U.S. attorney for D.C. announced the department would bring criminal charges against the former Trump strategist — two misdemeanor counts. Bannon has pleaded not guilty, and a status conference is set for Dec. 7.
Bannon and Clark aren’t the only two Trump allies to draw the committee’s ire. Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff on the day of the Capitol riot, has also refused to sit for a deposition with investigators. His lawyer wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that he offered to answer written questions, but that the committee did not accept that offer. The committee’s announcement on Clark did not offer any foreshadowing about Meadows.