Capitol riot committee advances criminal contempt charges against Jeffrey Clark

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The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 uprising voted unanimously to approve a criminal contempt of Congress resolution against former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who installed former President Donald Trump in the White House. tried to push the then Acting Attorney General to help. for a second term against the will of the voters.

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All nine members of the committee voted to move the full House of Representatives, which resolves that Mr. Clark “will be found in contempt of Congress for failure to comply with a summons of Congress,” and the House Speaker gives instructions to Nancy Pelosi. “During a statement by Jeffrey Bossert Clarke detailing his refusal to produce documents or answer questions to substantiate the report of the Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol … District of Columbia, to the extent that Mr. Clark is prosecuted in the manner and form provided by law”.

In remarks made before the committee’s vote, select committee chairman Benny Thompson said Mr Clark was “for efforts by Mr Trump and his aides to find a way to get around the Constitution” to keep Mr Trump in office. central”, and they “grow” the effort in the attack on the Capitol.


Mr Thompson said Mr Clarke had agreed to appear for a second statement on Saturday, but the committee would nonetheless go ahead with the vote as it is the first step in the contempt process.

“We just want facts and we need witnesses to cooperate with legal obligation and provide us with information about the cause of the January 6 attack. Mr. Clark still has that chance and I hope he We will take advantage of this, but we will not let anyone run out of time and we will insist that they appear this Saturday,” Mr. Thompson said. “The selection committee has no desire to be put in this position, but Mr. Clarke He left us with no other option. He chose this path, knowing what consequences he might face if he did.

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The committee’s deputy chairman, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, said the committee would not move the contempt motion to the full House if Mr. Clarke appears on Saturday and takes his Fifth Amendment claim against self-incrimination.

Ms Cheney noted that Mr Trump had recently said in a statement that he would like to “debate” the committee members, and added that the former president would be welcome to appear before the committee.

“When this committee convenes a hearing, witnesses will be called to testify under oath. Any communication of Mr. Trump with this committee will be under oath. And if he continues to lie, he will be a part of this great nation.” shall be accountable under the laws, and shall be subject to criminal punishment for every false word spoken by him,” she said.

If a motion for contempt against Mr. Clark were to be approved by the Full House, he would face criminal charges stemming from his refusal to cooperate with the committee’s investigation of the worst attack on the Capitol since the burning of Washington in 1814. There will be another person to do it. ,

Mr. Clark, who served as the acting chief of the department’s civilian division during the declining days of the Trump administration, became a central figure in plans by Mr. Trump and his aides as he attested to the loss of his Electoral College to Congress. Tried to stop it. President Joe Biden.

In late December 2020, he attempted to pressure then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and other top DOJ officials to sign a letter to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, saying the department had “identified significant concerns”. that could affect the outcome of the election. In … the state of Georgia” and urged him and state legislative leaders to convene a special session of the Georgia legislature to appoint voters who would vote for Mr. Trump. Call, which would replace the valid electoral votes cast in early December for Mr. Biden.

The selection committee issued a summons to Clarke on 13 October, ordering him to produce documents and give evidence in a statement on 29 October. While Mr. Clark’s testimony may have generally been excluded from executive privilege – a legal doctrine that protects interactions between and between a president and his advisers – Justice Department officials told him, Mr. Rosen and others. Ex-Trump DOJ appointees were allowed to testify. Congressional inquiry into the events leading up to the 6 January Uprising.

Additionally, an attorney for Mr Trump informed in August several congressional committee chairmen that were investigating the incidents that Mr Trump would make no claim of privilege to block his testimony.

But when Mr Clarke appeared for a statement on 5 November, he declined to answer the committee’s questions on the grounds that the answers were protected by an “overall umbrella” of executive privilege.

In a letter to Mr Thompson, his lawyers argued that the committee’s summons to Mr Bannon and other ex-Trump officials – former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Daniel Scavino and former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel – had was violated. The terms under which Mr Trump agreed not to invoke the executive privilege. She eventually dropped the statement and refused to back down.

According to the report of the committee that recommended charges of contempt against him, Mr. Clark’s refusal to comply with the subpoena “represents a willful omission under the law and warrants referral … for contempt of Congress statute.” To prosecute under … because “the denial of information sought by subpoena undermines the central powers of Congress under the Constitution of the United States”.

Most legal experts say Mr Clarke’s claim to invoke executive privilege to protect Trump’s interests fails because the ability to claim the privilege does not belong to Mr Trump, but to the current executive, Mr Biden.

In a court decision last month, US District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected similar attempts by attorneys representing Trump to gain access to White House records created in the days following the attack on the Capitol. Attempts were made to block the selection committee from which they were also involved. Trump and Clark’s plan to enlist the DOJ in their attempt to reverse the election results.

Mr Trump’s “position that he can override the expressed will of the executive branch is based on the assumption that his executive power ‘permanently exists,'” Judge Chutkan wrote. “But the president is not the king, and the plaintiffs are not the president”.

While Judge Chutkan’s decision to allow Trump to appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Circuit of Columbia is on hold, that court’s three-judge panel on Tuesday decided to consider the case for his lawyers’ claims. expressed doubts. ,

Should Mr Clark be indicted for contempt of Congress, it would leave the possibility that he would testify before the committee. But Representative Pete Aguilar of California, one of nine House members investigating the investigation, said on Wednesday that the select committee has heard testimony from other Trump-era Justice Department officials, including Mr Clark’s superiors.

The committee, Mr Aguilar said, has conducted more than 250 interviews, many with “people who have knowledge of them”. [Mr Clark’s] activities,” and the Capitol attack investigation has made “significant progress” in the months following the allegation.

“Obviously, we would appreciate everyone who obeys a valid subpoena. We’ve said so from the beginning. But if he doesn’t, there are other ways to get information about his activities,” Mr Aguilar said.

“We will continue to gather information, we will continue to make progress. And our hope is that we have more people talking instead of less, but we have made progress every day this week, and we will continue to make progress with interviews.” .


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