Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Former Justice Department lawyer reduced the statement on January 6

WASHINGTON (NWN) — A former assistant attorney general who aligned himself with former President Donald Trump after losing the 2020 election declined to be fully interviewed by a House committee investigating the Capitol uprising on Jan. Done, finished a statement after about 90 minutes on Friday. .

Jeffrey Clark, who championed Trump’s efforts to overturn the election presented the committee with a letter saying he would not answer questions based on Trump’s claims of executive privilege, including in an ongoing court case, closed-door meetings. According to a person familiar with, who was granted anonymity. Discuss this. Clark skipped the interview with his attorney, who told reporters he was going “home.”

Clarke, who was summoned Will not answer any questions from journalists after they leave, to be present by the committee.

In a statement Friday evening, committee chairman Rep. Benny Thompson confirmed that Clark declined to answer questions and said it was unacceptable. He said he had rejected claims of privilege and said Clarke had “very little time” to reconsider and cooperate.

“It is astonishing that someone who until recently held a position of public trust to uphold the Constitution would now hide behind vague claims of privilege by a former president, answering questions about an attack on our democracy.” Will refuse, and will continue to attack the regime’s law,” Thompson said.

Clark’s denial is the latest result of an attempt to claim executive privilege in a lawsuit filed by Trump Against the Committee and the National Archives. The suit aims to prevent the government from releasing a tranche of internal White House documents, including call logs, draft remarks, speeches and handwritten staff notes from before and during the rebellion. President Joe Biden has so far waived executive privileges on nearly all documents the committee has sought, citing the need for the panel to investigate the violent attack.

Amid the legal wrangling, the House panel has struggled to gain cooperation from some of Trump’s other top aides — including his longtime aide Steve Bannon and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — as it remains in public view. Extensive checks out. According to two people familiar with the interview, the committee has so far interviewed more than 150 witnesses, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss them.

Interviews include a broad swath of former and current Executive Branch officials, Trump campaign aides, law enforcement officials, and others. The panel has also spoken to several people who helped organize the rally. The morning of January 6 where Trump told his supporters to “fight like hell”.

The committee has also interviewed Justice Department officials who were in office after the election. Thompson said that Clarke’s “refusal to answer questions about the Justice Department’s attempt to reverse the election of a former president is in direct contrast to his supervisors in the department, who answered the committee’s questions on these important topics.” has answered.”

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Clarke is one of about 20 people the committee has summoned so far. a report Details released by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee last month described how they supported Trump’s efforts to undo the election results and clashed with senior Justice Department officials who resisted the pressure, a It culminated in a dramatic White House meeting in which Trump set about raising Clark. Attorney General. He did not do so after several colleagues threatened to resign.

Thompson wrote in Clark’s subpoena that the committee’s investigation had “revealed credible evidence that you attempted to engage the Justice Department in efforts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power” and that their efforts had “convinced the Justice Department to There was a risk of engaging in actions that lacked evidence foundation and threatened to erode the rule of law.”

It is unclear whether the panel will proceed to hold Clark in contempt of Congress, as they did with Bannon. Thompson said the committee needed the information Clarke withheld and was ready to “take strong steps” to hold him accountable.

the house voted last month to recommend charges against Bannon, and now it’s up to the Justice Department to decide To prosecute or not.

As they voted to hold Bannon in contempt, lawmakers on the panel – including two Republicans – made it clear that they would fight any claim of executive privilege, which is required to protect the president’s private conversations and communications. was developed over the years. Thompson then said the panel would “not be intimidated” by any such claim.

A federal judge hearing the case also appeared to be questioning Trump’s claim this week, expressing skepticism when Trump’s lawyers argued the House panel had no legislative purpose in obtaining the document.

“The January 6 riot happened at the Capitol,” said U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan. “That’s literally the house of Congress.”

The House committee may pursue similar contempt charges against Meadows and former Trump administration aides Dan Scavino and Kashyap Patel, who have all been in extended discussions with the committee to testify after their summons. .

Despite Trump’s false claims Regarding the stolen election – the primary impetus for the violent mob that stormed the Capitol and obstructed the certification of Biden’s victory – the results were confirmed by state officials and upheld by the courts. Trump’s own Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread fraud that could change the outcome.


Associated Press journalists Rick Gentilo and Noman Merchant contributed to this report.


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