The House special committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on Wednesday issued a subpoena to senior Trump’s Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, stepping up its investigation into the former president’s efforts to re-establish himself in power and the insurrection of January 6.
The new subpoena highlights the select committee’s wide-ranging mandate in examining the origins of the attack on Capitol Hill, as it continues an investigation into Donald Trump’s role in lobbying the Department of Justice (DoJ) for him to make his offer in the final weeks of his presidency.
In targeting Clark, House Select Committee investigators followed up on a report by the Senate Judiciary Committee that detailed last week its efforts to abuse the Justice Department to support Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. .
House Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement he had authorized a subpoena to testify from Clark to understand how Trump’s White House sought to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory in of the joint session of Congress.
“We need to understand Mr. Clark’s role in these efforts at the Department of Justice and who was involved in the administration. The select committee expects Mr. Clark to cooperate fully with our investigation, ”said Thompson.
The new subpoena targeting Clark came a day before the select committee was supposed to give depositions against senior Trump administration officials over their potential role in the Jan. 6 insurgency and what they knew before. the attack on the Capitol.
But it was not clear hours before the deadlines whether Trump officials – former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, strategist Steve Bannon and aide to the ministry of Kash Patel Defense – would testify Thursday and Friday.
The Guardian first reported that Trump’s aides were expected to largely defy subpoenas for documents and testimony on instructions from the former president and his legal team led by former campaign lawyer for Trump, Justin Clark.
Trump has asked his former aides to defy subpoenas issued under threat of criminal prosecution for reasons of executive privilege, in a bid to slow down the select committee’s investigation, according to a source familiar with the strategy.
The select committee had said in a recent statement that Meadows and Patel were “engaging” with House investigators ahead of filing dates, but declined to comment on the extent of their cooperation. Bannon has vowed to defy his subpoena in its entirety.
The House Select Committee investigators’ request for Clark’s testimony represents an important development for the second line of inquiry pursued by the panel – in addition to their investigation into the organization of the attack on the Capitol.
The select committee had sought to negotiate with Clark for voluntary testimony, but a breakdown in discussions led Thompson to move forward with a subpoena requiring an affidavit, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The Senate report, among others, described how Justice Department officials and Trump’s lawyer in the White House struggled to avoid pressure during a period when Trump was briefed on ways to block Biden’s certification. by a lawyer he saw on television.
Senator Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the report’s findings led him to believe that Trump – who is due to run for president in 2024 – would have “shredded the constitution to stay in power.”
The report reaffirms previous accounts of Trump’s attempts to get to the Oval Office. But building on the testimony of former Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, it shed new light on Clark’s role in the plot.
Clark, in particular, was at the forefront of the search for the overturning of the 2020 election results, having participated in several conversations with Trump about how to overturn the election and pressured his superiors to look into allegations of fraud. debunked, according to the report.
The Senate Judiciary Committee report detailed a Jan. 2 confrontation in which Clark asked Rosen to send Georgia election officials a letter falsely claiming the DoJ identified fraud – and threatened to push Trump to fire him if he refused.
At a subsequent Jan. 3 meeting in the Oval Office, Trump appeared to harbor the threat to his acting attorney general: “One thing we know is that you, Rosen, won’t do anything to overturn the election.” Rosen said, telling Trump. .
Separately, the White House formally rejected Trump’s request on Wednesday that Biden invoke executive privilege on approximately 50 pages of documents requested by the select committee through the National Archives.
“The President maintains his conclusion that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interest of the United States and is therefore not justified in any of the documents,” White House attorney Dana Remus wrote in a letter.