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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Jan. 6 Panel Seeks Contempt Cost for Jeffrey Clark

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WASHINGTON — The Home committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot moved on Wednesday to carry Jeffrey Clark in prison contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with its inquiry, however agreed to delay a Home vote on the matter as the previous Justice Division lawyer made an Eleventh-hour provide to be interviewed once more.

The panel voted unanimously to suggest charging Mr. Clark, who had pressed his colleagues on the Justice Division to pursue President Donald J. Trump’s election fraud claims, after he refused to reply any questions or produce any paperwork at a deposition with its investigators final month.

The vote paved the way in which for the complete Home to maneuver rapidly to name on the Justice Division to prosecute Mr. Clark for his refusal to cooperate with the panel’s subpoena. However shortly earlier than the committee met to approve it, Mr. Clark had requested a delay of the proceedings, providing to sit down down with the panel once more.

Consultant Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the committee’s chairman, mentioned it could transfer ahead with the contempt referral anyway, calling Mr. Clark’s attraction “a last-ditch try to delay.”

“The choose committee has no need to be positioned on this scenario, however Mr. Clark has left us no different selection,” Mr. Thompson added. “He selected this path. He knew what penalties he would possibly face if he did so. This committee and this Home should insist on accountability within the face of that type of defiance.”

However he introduced that the panel had set one other deposition for Mr. Clark on Saturday, and that it could not search a Home vote on the contempt cost till investigators had decided whether or not he was keen to cooperate.

It was not instantly clear to what extent Mr. Clark deliberate to take action. In a letter to the panel on Tuesday, he supplied a brand new rationale for refusing to reply questions, asserting his Fifth Modification proper towards self-incrimination. Mr. Thompson mentioned Mr. Clark can be permitted to invoke that proper “on a question-by-question foundation” throughout the upcoming interview.

The final time the committee’s investigators sat down with Mr. Clark, they’d an extended checklist of questions on his position in making an attempt to assist Mr. Trump invalidate his 2020 election defeat.

They wished to ask Mr. Clark a couple of nationwide intelligence briefing he had sought a couple of wild principle that China may hack voting machines by means of thermostats. They deliberate to press him a couple of letter he had proposed writing to legislative officers in Georgia, urging them to place ahead another slate of electors for Mr. Trump, as an alternative of President Biden, who had received the state. And so they wished to dig into any conversations he might need had with a bunch of Mr. Trump’s allies who had gathered at a Washington, D.C., resort within the days earlier than the riot to plan the hassle to overturn the election.

Mr. Clark supplied no solutions.

“We won’t be answering any questions or producing any paperwork,” Mr. Clark’s lawyer, Harry W. MacDougald, mentioned flatly.

The vote was the second such confrontation between the committee and an ally of Mr. Trump since Congress started investigating the circumstances surrounding the Capitol riot, together with the previous president’s makes an attempt to subvert the election.

The Home voted in October to suggest that one other of Mr. Trump’s associates, Stephen Okay. Bannon, be charged with prison contempt of Congress for stonewalling the inquiry. A federal grand jury subsequently indicted him on two counts that would carry a complete of as much as two years behind bars.

A 3rd recalcitrant witness, Mark Meadows, a White Home chief of workers beneath Mr. Trump, reached an settlement with the committee on Tuesday to supply paperwork and seem voluntarily for a deposition. It’s a notable reversal for a vital witness within the inquiry, although it’s not clear how a lot info he can be keen to supply.

The committee has interviewed greater than 200 witnesses and issued 45 subpoenas. On Tuesday, the panel heard 5 hours of closed-door testimony from Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who pushed again towards Mr. Trump’s makes an attempt to overturn the election outcomes there.

A number of the panel’s most sought-after witnesses, together with Mr. Meadows; Dan Scavino Jr., a former deputy chief of workers; and Kash Patel, a former Pentagon chief of workers, are scheduled to testify, Mr. Thompson mentioned.

Underneath federal legislation, any particular person summoned as a congressional witness who refuses to conform can face a misdemeanor cost that carries a high quality of $100 to $100,000 and a jail sentence of 1 month to 1 yr.

In rebuffing the committee’s October subpoena, Mr. Clark mentioned his conversations with Mr. Trump have been protected by attorney-client privilege and the previous president’s assertion of govt privilege.

Mr. MacDougald instructed the committee final month that he and Mr. Clark interpreted govt privilege to cowl conversations and paperwork that didn’t contain Mr. Trump.

“The privileges which can be beneath the general umbrella of govt privilege are quite a few,” Mr. MacDougald mentioned.

He additionally cited legislation enforcement privilege and deliberative course of privilege. “There are any quantity,” he added.

Mr. Trump has filed go well with towards the committee, searching for to dam its entry to lots of of White Home paperwork, although a federal appeals courtroom on Tuesday appeared skeptical of his declare that he has the facility to dam the panel’s demand for White Home data associated to the assault on the Capitol.

The Biden administration has declined to claim privilege over the paperwork, arguing that no such safety must be afforded to materials that would make clear a president’s makes an attempt to undermine a democratic election.

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