The House panel investigating the January 6 US Capitol uprising will vote on contempt charges against a former Justice Department official on Wednesday as the committee aggressively responds to a violent attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump. wants to achieve.
The vote to advance contempt charges against former Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Clark, who sided with Trump as he tried to reverse his election defeat, comes as Trump’s top aide at the time, Mark Meadows, chief of staff, has agreed to cooperate with the panel. on a limited basis. Clarke appeared for a statement last month but declined to answer any questions based on Trump’s legal efforts to stall the committee’s investigation.
If approved by the panel, the recommendation for criminal contempt charges against Clark will go to the full House for a vote on Thursday. If the House votes to censure Clark, the Justice Department will decide whether to prosecute.
The panel has vowed to aggressively charge any witnesses who do not comply with what is called the investigation into the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries. The Justice Department has indicated it is ready to pursue those charges, after Trump aide Steve Bannon pleaded guilty to two federal counts of criminal contempt earlier this month.
Attorney General Merrick Garland then said that Bannon’s indictment reflects the department’s “firm commitment” to the rule of law, when Bannon outright disregarded the committee and refused to cooperate.
Clark’s case may be more complicated because he appeared for his statement and, unlike Bannon, was a Trump administration official on January 6. But members of the committee argued that Clark had no basis for denying the inquiry, especially since they intended to inquire about it. Matters that did not involve direct talks with Trump and did not fall under the former president’s claims of executive privilege.
In a transcript of Clark’s November 5 interview released by the panel on Tuesday evening, staff and committee members attempted to persuade Clark to answer questions about his role as Trump accused the Justice Department of his falsity of widespread fraud. prompted to investigate the allegations. Election. Clark had aligned himself with the former president as other justice officials insisted on unfounded claims.
But Clark’s attorney, Harry MacDougald, said during the interview that Clark was protected not only by Trump’s claim of executive privilege, but also by a number of other privileges MacDougald said should be afforded to Clark. The committee rejected those arguments, and MacDougald and Clark dropped out of the interview after about 90 minutes.
According to a report by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year, which interviewed several of Clark’s aides, Trump’s pressure culminated in a dramatic White House meeting with the president talking about promoting Clarke to attorney general. I told. He did not do so after several colleagues threatened to resign.
Despite Trump’s false claims about the stolen election—the primary impetus for the violent mob that swept the Capitol and obstructed Democrat Joe Biden’s certification of victory—the results were confirmed by state officials and the courts. retained. Trump’s own Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have changed the outcome.
Trump, who told his supporters to “fight like hell” on the morning of January 6, has sued to block the committee’s work and attempted to assert executive privilege over documents and interviews, saying it Arguing that their conversations and actions at that time should be preserved. in public view.
Clarke is one of more than 40 people the committee has summoned so far. The panel’s chair, Mississippi Representative Benny Thompson, wrote in Clark’s subpoena that the committee’s investigation “revealed credible evidence that you attempted to engage the Justice Department in efforts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power” and that their efforts It “risks involving the Department of Justice” in actions that lacked the foundation of evidence and threatened to subvert the rule of law. ,
After Clarke declined to answer questions, Thompson said it was “astonishing that someone who had recently held a position of public trust to uphold the Constitution was now exposed to a vague sense of privilege by a former president.” Will hide behind claims, refuse to answer questions about an attack on our democracy, and continue to attack the rule of law.”
George Terwilliger, a lawyer for Meadows, said Tuesday that he is continuing to work with the committee and its staff on a possible accommodation that would not require Meadows to waive the executive privileges claimed by Trump or ” The senior would lose White’s long-standing position. House colleagues cannot be compelled to testify before Congress.
Terwilliger said in a statement that “we appreciate the selection committee’s openness to receiving voluntary feedback on non-privileged topics.” He previously said that Meadows would not comply with the panel’s September subpoena because of Trump’s claims of privilege.
Thompson said Meadows has provided documents to the panel and will sit down for a statement shortly, but the committee will “continue to assess the degree of compliance.”
Under the tentative agreement, Meadows could potentially refuse to answer the panel’s questions about his most sensitive talks with Trump…
Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Donald Trump