National Security

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas Jeffrey Clark, backer of Trump efforts at DOJ

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has subpoenaed Jeffrey Clark, a Trump ally and former Justice Department employee who urged its leaders to investigate former President Trump's election fraud claims.

"The Select Committee's investigation has revealed credible evidence that you attempted to involve the Department of Justice in efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power," the committee wrote in its letter.

"You proposed that the department send a letter to state legislators in Georgia and other states suggesting that they delay certification of their election results and hold a press conference announcing that the department was investigating allegations of voter fraud."

Clark, the former acting Civil Division assistant attorney general, was at the center of a report from the Senate Judiciary Committee last week detailing Trump's pressure campaign on the highest ranking officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ). 

An otherwise little-known figure in the Justice Department, Clark was introduced to Trump by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), another person the Senate Committee recommended the House focus on.

Clark then became an advocate for Trump inside DOJ, forwarding letters then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone called a "murder-suicide pact."

"These proposals were rejected by department leadership as both lacking in factual basis and inconsistent with the department's institutional role," the subpoena states.

Things came to a head when Clark informed his superiors at the DOJ that Trump was prepared to install him as acting attorney general following frustration with then-DOJ head Jeffrey Rosen and others resisting Justice Department involvement in Trump's election battles.

The Jan. 3 exchange ended as numerous DOJ officials, including Rosen, threatened to resign, with Trump ultimately deciding against potential blowback from the shake-up. 

"While he did not ultimately make that personnel change," the committee wrote of Trump, "your efforts risked involving the Department of Justice in actions that lacked evidentiary foundation and threatened to subvert the rule of law."

The letter from the Jan. 6 panel also focuses on Clark's engagement with the White House.

"You engaged in unauthorized investigation of allegations of voter fraud and failed to abide by the department's policy on contacts with the White House," they wrote. 

The subpoena comes as the Senate report suggested the House panel take charge to investigate Trump's focus on DOJ, the rallies and other activity on Jan. 6.

"President Trump's efforts to enlist DOJ and its leadership in his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election were aided by numerous allies with clear ties to the 'Stop the Steal' movement and the January 6 insurrection," the Senate report stated.

Trump told DOJ officials "he and his congressional allies could effectively position themselves to overturn the presidential election results with cover from DOJ, asking DOJ to 'just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the [Republican] Congressmen,' " according to the report.

The committee also sat down for an interview with Rosen on Wednesday, according to Politico, and previously interviewed then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, another participant in the Jan. 3 meeting.

Clark has proven an elusive figure for congressional investigators. He refused to sit down with the Senate Judiciary Committee for its report. The subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee comes as conversations between the panel and Clark's legal team failed to progress as quickly as lawmakers hoped, according to reporting from The Washington Post.

"The Select Committee needs to understand all the details about efforts inside the previous administration to delay the certification of the 2020 election and amplify misinformation about the election results. We need to understand Mr. Clark's role in these efforts at the Justice Department and learn who was involved across the administration. The Select Committee expects Mr. Clark to cooperate fully with our investigation," Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement.

The hardline on Clark falls as the committee gears up for a battle with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who has thus far refused to cooperate with the committee and is unlikely to appear for a requested deposition on Thursday.

Updated 5:25 p.m.

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