The special House committee investigating the January 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol has broadened its investigation of former Trump officials as it considers legal remedies for those who do not cooperate.
Committee Chairman Representative Bennie G. Thompson issued a subpoena on Wednesday for former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who the panel said was “involved in efforts to overthrow the 2020 presidential election and to halt the peaceful transfer of power “.
The panel issued 19 subpoenas targeting former Trump officials and others involved in the “Stop the Steal” rally that took place before the January 6 riot.
“The select committee must understand all the details of efforts within the previous administration to delay certification of the 2020 election and amplify misinformation about election results,” Mississippi Democrat Mr. Thompson said in a statement. communicated. “We need to understand Mr. Clark’s role in these efforts at the Department of Justice and who was involved in the administration.”
Citing a recently released report by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the House panel alleges that Mr. Clark proposed that the Justice Department send letters to some state lawmakers to delay certification of elections.
Mr Clark also recommended that senior ministry officials give the green light to a press conference announcing an investigation into allegations of electoral fraud, according to the Senate committee report. Both proposals were rejected by Mr. Clark’s superiors.
The House committee alleges then-President Donald Trump considered appointing Mr. Clark as acting attorney general as a result of his efforts.
“While he ultimately did not make that personal change, your efforts risked involving the Justice Department in actions that lacked evidence and threatened to overthrow the rule of law,” Thompson said in the statement. ‘assignment.
The House panel asked Mr. Clark to produce documents related to the case and to appear before the committee for a deposition scheduled for October 29.
Wednesday’s summons came the same week as the scheduled deposition of four former Trump administration officials.
Former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and former Defense Department official Kash Patel have scheduled depositions for Thursday.
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino are due to appear for depositions on Friday.
Mr. Trump has resisted the committee’s efforts to investigate his administration, citing executive privilege. But his argument was dismissed by the current White House lawyer as unwarranted and “not in the best interests of the United States.”
Mr Bannon’s attorney, Robert Costello, sent a letter to the House panel on Wednesday night saying his client would not participate in the deposition, citing the former president’s assertion of privilege, which he said had not yet been ironed out by the committee.
Mr Costello’s letter likely did not surprise lawmakers, who noted last week that Mr Bannon had indicated he would not comply with the subpoena.
“Mr. Bannon has indicated that he will try to hide behind vague references to the former president’s privileges,” Mr. Thompson and Representative Liz Cheney said in a statement. “The select committee fully expects this. may all these witnesses comply with our requests for documents and testimony. “
It is not clear whether MM. Patel, Meadows and Scavino intend to comply with the summons. In a statement last week, Mr. Thomson and Ms. Cheney, a Wyoming Republican and vice chairman of the select committee, said Mr. Meadows and Mr. Patel were “so far in contact with the select committee.”
Lawmakers on the panel said they would pursue criminal charges of contempt of court for those who do not show up for testimony.
“We will not allow any witness to defy a legal subpoena or attempt to run out of time, and we will quickly consider advancing a criminal dismissal for contempt of Congress,” Thompson and Cheney said last week.