Former DOJ official could be second person to face contempt charges for defying January 6 committee

Former DOJ official could be second person to face contempt charges for defying January 6 committee
Yuri Gripas/Pool/Getty Images

The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection is poised to vote on a criminal contempt of Congress referral for former top Department of Justice official, Jeffrey Clark, the panel announced Monday.

The committee plans to meet Wednesday night to vote on a report recommending that the full House refer Clark to the Justice Department on criminal contempt charges. A House vote has not yet been scheduled.

If the committee moves to hold Clark in contempt, he would become the second person to potentially face criminal charges for refusing to provide critical information to investigators under subpoena.

Trump ally Steve Bannon is currently awaiting trial for a misdemeanor criminal contempt charge after he refused to show up for a deposition or provide documents to the committee, citing executive privilege claims made by former President Donald Trump.

As a sympathizer to election fraud conspiracy theories, Clark became Trump’s most useful asset inside the Justice Department in the days before January 6.

Clark pushed to pursue unfounded claims of voter fraud in the weeks after the November election. And, according to officials who interacted with Clark, he was in touch with Trump repeatedly. Kenneth Klukowski, former senior counsel to Clark, also has been subpoenaed by the committee.

Clark helped Trump devise a plan to oust the then-acting attorney general, place himself atop the department and have the DOJ intervene in Georgia to set aside its voting results in order to sway the state toward Trump.

When Clark’s superiors learned of his scheming with Trump in early January, they threatened to resign en masse.

Unlike Bannon, Clark appeared for an interview with the committee in early November, but refused to answer any questions, sources familiar with his appearance told CNN.

Instead, Clark provided a letter from his attorney Harry MacDougald that claimed he could not provide testimony until a court declares that his interactions with former President Donald Trump are not protected under attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement following Clark’s appearance that he had considered and rejected Clark’s claim that he didn’t have to answer questions under subpoena.

“He has a very short time to reconsider and cooperate fully,” the Mississippi Democrat said at the time. “We need the information that he is withholding, and we are willing to take strong measures to hold him accountable to meet his obligation.”

“It’s astounding that someone who so recently held a position of public trust to uphold the Constitution would now hide behind vague claims of privilege by a former President, refuse to answer questions about an attack on our democracy, and continue an assault on the rule of law,” Thompson said at the time.

This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.

The-CNN-Wire
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