Jeffrey Clark, an assistant attorney general in Donald Trump’s Justice Department, was a major figure in Trump’s plot to rig the 2020 election. And, according to fresh information discovered by the House committee examining the January 6th insurgency, he was working more closely with the White House than previously thought.
Clark drafted a letter for Justice Department leadership to send to Georgia election officials in late December 2020, falsely stating that “the Department of Justice is investigating various irregularities in the 2020 election for President of the United States” and recommending that Georgia’s legislature convene to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state.
When the Justice Department’s leadership declined to issue the letter, Trump pondered replacing Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with Clark. He later backed down, but Clark’s maneuvering at the Justice Department amounted to an unprecedented effort to meddle in the 2020 election.
On Wednesday, the House Select Committee probing the January 6 insurgency decided to charge Clark in contempt of Congress for failing to answer the committee’s inquiries. Among the important concerns the committee wants addressed is how closely Clark collaborated with the White House on his election sabotage letter.
“I also wanted to ask him about metadata in that draft letter that indicates some involvement with the White House Communications Agency [in] the drafting or preparation of that letter,” the January 6 committee’s chief counsel said at Clark’s November 5 deposition, which Rachel Maddow first reported on Friday night.
BREAKING: January 6th Committee finds White House metadata on Jeffrey Clark letter pushing Georgia to overturn Trump’s election loss. pic.twitter.com/134Cg9NYZW
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) December 4, 2021
This suggests that the White House was involved in the creation of Clark’s letter, which was written shortly before Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2, 2021, and told him to “find 11,780 votes” to overturn Biden’s victory in the state—a call that is now being investigated criminally by the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia.
Clark was set to plead the Fifth Amendment—a probable admission of knowledge of criminal activity—in answer to the January 6th committee’s subpoena at a planned deposition on Saturday, but the hearing has been postponed until December 16 owing to a “medical condition.”
According to a study, Clark violated Departmental rules in his discussions with the White House, and the previous President contemplated appointing Clark as Acting Attorney General.
Clark must provide papers and testify in a deposition on October 29th, 2021, according to the subpoena.
The House Select Committee issued subpoenas last week to the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and other organizations on Tuesday as it looks into the reasons of the insurgency.
The newest round of subpoenas has been sent to Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, Oath Keeper founder and leader Stewart Rhodes, and 1st Amendment Praetorian co-founder Robert Patrick Lewis. The committee is requesting depositions and documentation from the three, as well as documents and records from the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.
“We believe the individuals and organizations we subpoenaed today have relevant information about how violence erupted at the Capitol and the preparation leading up to this violent attack,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), the committee’s chairman, said in a statement.
Federal officials have already detained members of several of the right-wing organizations participating in the Capitol invasion. For their participation in the Jan. 6 incident, Tarrio and Rhodes have been the focus of the FBI’s continuing investigation into the Capitol attack.
Tarrio, 37, was sentenced to five months in prison for two offences, including torching a Black Lives Matter flag taken from a historic Black church in Washington during a protest after Joe Biden upset President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
Tarrio was refused early release from a D.C. prison on Monday after saying he was subjected to unclean conditions and harassment at the facility.
Thompson cites Tarrio’s post on Parler that Proud Boys would “not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow” but would be “incognito” instead for the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal protest as an example of some of the advanced planning Tarrio was involved in ahead of the event in a letter transmitting notice of the subpoena.
“Though you were prevented from participating in the events at the United States Capitol on January 6th, to date, at least 34 individuals affiliated with the Proud Boys have been indicted by the Department of Justice in relation to the attack at the United States Capitol,” Thompson writes.
The committee is also requesting Rhodes’ depositions and materials, noting his frequent comments in written and oral utterances that the Oath Keepers “should, or were willing to engage in violence to guarantee their favored election result.”
The committee also mentions Rhodes in an indictment handed by a federal grand jury in Washington, which “describes a conspiracy among at least 18 Oath Keepers in which members of the Oath Keepers planned to move together in coordination and with regular communication to storm” the Capitol.
In an interview, Rhodes, who has cooperated with FBI investigators, denied that he and other Oath Keepers planned to disrupt Congress’s certification of the electoral college vote, and said that Oath Keepers associates who breached the Capitol “went totally off mission.” And, Rhodes’ reputation as the commander of an actual paramilitary squad is overblown.
The House Select Committee issued subpoenas to many longstanding Trump supporters, including InfoWars founder Alex Jones, self-described dirty trickster Roger Stone, and rally planners Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence. Taylor Budowich, the current spokeswoman for former President Donald Trump, has also been subpoenaed by the committee.
“The Select Committee is seeking information about the rallies and subsequent march to the Capitol that escalated into a violent mob attacking the Capitol and threatening our democracy,” Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said in a statement. “We need to know who organized, planned, paid for, and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress.”
The tribunal asked that all subpoenaed individuals turn over pertinent papers by December 6. They were supposed to make deposits the next week.
The subpoenas issued on Monday are about the financing and organizing of protests on Jan. 5 and 6, as well as the march from the Ellipse to the Capitol.
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