January 6 Select Committee Subpoena Comes for Trump DOJ Employee As Key Figures Are Determined to Defy
The select committee for investigating January 6 on Wednesday revealed another subpoena, this time for Jeffrey Clark who worked for the Department of Justice (DOJ) during the Trump administration, from 2018-2021.
Clark has expressed concerns about voter fraud taking place in the 2020 election. According to a press release from the committee:
According to a report released last week by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, there is credible evidence that, while serving as an official at the Department of Justice, Mr. Clark was involved in efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power. Mr. Clark proposed delivery of a letter to state legislators in Georgia and others encouraging to delay certification of election results. Moreover, he recommended holding a press conference announcing that the Department was investigating allegations of voter fraud despite the lack of evidence that such fraud was present. Both proposals were rejected by Department senior leadership for lacking a factual basis and being inconsistent with the Department’s institutional role.
The report further details that Mr. Clark failed to follow Departmental policy in his communications with the White House and that the former President considered installing Mr. Clark as Acting Attorney General.
“The Select Committee expects Mr. Clark to cooperate fully with our investigation,” a statement from Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) read in part.
Clark is required to produce records and testify at a deposition on October 29.
The committee has been announcing individuals and organizations that it has subpoenaed for three weeks now. To be sure, it expects all those subpoenaed to cooperate. It doesn’t look like it will be that easy, though.
As I reported last week, former President Donald Trump’s lawyer sent a letter obtained by POLITICO directing those who have been subpoenaed to defy it, citing executive and other privileges.
Brett Samuels reported for The Hill on Wednesday, though, that “White House formally rejects Trump claim of executive privilege over Jan. 6 docs,” citing a letter from White House counsel Dana Remus.
One such figure who has been subpoenaed, Steve Bannon has refused to comply, citing that Trump letter, as CNN reported last week.
The subpoenas and what fate awaits those who say they will defy them has been the focus of extensive reporting from The Washington Post on Wednesday.
In discussing “What can happen to the Trump advisers who are ignoring the Jan. 6 subpoenas?,” Amber Phillips wrote:
So what can the lawmakers do to enforce the subpoenas or punish the holdouts? Congress has a few options. The toughest one is potentially jailing the holdouts, something they are actually talking about.
“I think we are completely of one mind that if people refuse to respond to questions without justification that we will hold them in criminal contempt,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who sits on the committee, told The Washington Post.
She went on to list some options to take, including:
- “First, they vote to hold someone who doesn’t comply in contempt of Congress”
- “Congress often stops there, but they don’t have to,” which would involve taking that to the DOJ and charging the person with a crime.
- “Congress can sue the person and demand they comply”
- “Or they could jail them in the halls of Congress.”
When it comes to what Trump can do, she noted that “Trump can try to stop that by going to court, where he has a good chance to at least delay the records requests.”
She also cited a congressional ethics expert to explain there are few options to truly defy:
People on the receiving end of these subpoenas — including any members of Congress that the committee might try to talk to — could try to fight them, arguing that the subpoenas are politically motivated.
But “no court has recognized that as a reason in itself,” said Stanley Brand, a congressional ethics expert. And Repub licans as well as Democrats have signed off on these subpoenas. Plus, a majority of Republican lawmakers opposed an investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol, but two Republicans — Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — agreed to serve on it.
So while Congress’s enforcement power of subpoenas has its weak spots, if it wants to really ramp up the pressure, there aren’t a lot of ways around avoiding a subpoena, other than going to jail.
While Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger, cited above, are Republicans, many would consider them to be RINOs.
The two are the only Republicans serving on the committee, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) picking Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jim Banks (R-IN) to serve. Leader McCarthy then pulled all of his picks as a result.
Later on Wednesday, several of Phillips’ colleagues at The Washington Post wrote that “Jan. 6 committee preparing to aggressively enforce subpoenas, targets former Trump DOJ official.”
About enforcing the subpoenas, the report mentioned:
Lawmakers who sit on the panel said they are prepared to pursue criminal charges against witnesses like Bannon who have balked at cooperating.
“We are completely of one mind that if people refuse to respond to questions without justification that we will hold them in criminal contempt and refer them to the Justice Department,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the panel, said in an interview Tuesday.
To proceed with a criminal contempt charge, the full committee must meet, which is unlikely this week but lawmakers will probably signal their intention to proceed to seek contempt charges, said a person familiar with the process who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks.
The report also mentions an eight-hour closed-door testimony then Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen “regarding the final days of the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with the meeting” and about Rosen’s interactions with Clark, who Trump considered replacing Rosen with.