The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack has voted to forward contempt charges for Jeffrey Clark, a former Trump-era Department of Justice (DOJ) official who has refused to comply with the committee’s subpoena requests.
Clark first appeared in November before the January 6 commission. he refused to answer questionsabout his role as an attempt to reverse the results for the 2020 presidential election in which Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, the commission voted unanimously to forward the consideration to hold Clark in contempt of Congress — but lawmakers added that they will drop their recommendation for charges against him if he decides to comply by this weekend.
Clark has invoked a Fifth Amendment privilege claim in refusing to testify to commission. That amendment holds that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”
Commission chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) called the defense a “last-ditch attempt to delay the Select Committee’s proceedings.” He also said that if Clark wants to assert the privilege claim, he can do so in person, in front of the committee.
“I have informed Mr. Clark’s attorney that I am willing to convene another deposition at which Mr. Clark can assert that privilege on a question-by-question basis, which is what the law requires of someone who asserts the privilege against self-incrimination,” Thompson said.
Clark has “agreed to do so,” Thompson added. But if his answers are not sufficient — and if he pleads the Fifth Amendment protections for all questions asked — the commission may move forward with its contempt of Congress charges.
“We need witnesses to cooperate with their legal obligation and provide us with information about what led to the January 6th attack,” Thompson said.
Clark is being asked to testify about what he knows regarding Trump’s attempt to overturn the election, and to hand over documents that detail his communications with Trump, other White House officials, and Trump’s re-election campaign staff.
It was previously disclosed that Trump tried to use Clark as a way to get the DOJ’s support to overturn the 2020 election. Clark, who has made false claims about election fraud and was an ally to Trump in his time at the department.
Trump devised a plan to replace Jeffrey Rosen, the then-acting Attorney General, with Clark. Clark would then assist the former president in using the department to falsely claim that there was widespread election corruption that justifies ignoring the results. That scheme was thwarted after two White House lawyers and Richard Donoghue — then second-in-command at the DOJ — threatened to resign if Trump followed through.
Clark also developed his own schemesto keep the White House intact. He recommended that letters be sent to Georgia state legislators in order to delay certification of election results indicating that Biden had won. A press conference was also proposed by Clark, a former DOJ official. This would allow the DOJ to announce that it is investigating fraud claims. Clark hoped this would encourage Congress to reject the certification of the Electoral College.