Friday, January 28, 2022

On January 6, the commission suspends testimony of a former Justice Ministry official

WASHINGTON (AP) – A House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol uprising suspended testimony from a former Justice Department official on Saturday due to “health conditions that preclude his involvement,” a spokesman for the group said.

The committee has scheduled a second interview with Jeffrey Clark, who joined former President Donald Trump last year as he tried to reverse his defeat, after Clark refused to answer questions during his first testimony in November. On Wednesday, the commission voted to recommend the contempt charges against Clark, but said it would postpone the full House of Representatives vote and give him a second try.

Timothy Mulvey, a spokesman for the committee, said Clark’s testimony was postponed until December 16.

“Through his attorney, Mr. Clark informed the Ad Hoc Committee of a medical condition that is preventing him from attending tomorrow’s meeting, and he has provided sufficient evidence to support his claim,” Mulvey said in a statement Friday night.

The former Justice Department official met with Trump ahead of the violent uprising and unsuccessfully pushed his then-leaders to publicly announce that the department was investigating election fraud and instructed some state legislatures to appoint new voters, according to a Senate Judicial Committee report released earlier this year. year.

The report said Trump’s pressure on the Justice Department led to a dramatic meeting at the White House at which the president speculated about Clark’s promotion to attorney general. Trump did not do so after several aides threatened to step down, but he continued to make unsubstantiated allegations of fraud, repeated by a violent crowd of his supporters as they stormed the Capitol and cut short confirmation of President Joe Biden’s victory.

Clark’s lawyer told the committee this week, just before the disrespectful vote, that his client now wants to exercise his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. This came after Clark initially refused to answer questions based on Trump’s claims of executive privileges and various other privileges that his lawyer said should be given him.

The January 6 commission chairman, Democratic Party representative Benny Thompson of Mississippi, said that Clark had offered “no concrete reason” for the 5th amendment to be approved and that he viewed it as “one last attempt at delaying the Ad Hoc Committee’s hearings.” but said that the members would listen to him. The committee wants Clark to plead for the Fifth Amendment on an individual basis, as opposed to his first testimony when he and his lawyer suddenly left.

If the committee decides, after testimony, that Clark is still ignoring the subpoena, the House may vote shortly thereafter on contempt of court charges. Then the Ministry of Justice will make a decision to initiate a criminal case.

Clark is the second person the committee voted to disrespect. In October, the House of Representatives voted to press charges against longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon after he withdrew the subpoena and was indicted by the Justice Department on two counts of contempt of criminal responsibility.

Trump, who told his supporters to “fight like hell” on the morning of the riots, sued to block the committee’s work and tried to defend the executive’s privilege over documents and interviews, arguing that his private conversations and actions at the time should be protected. from the public view.

Despite Trump’s false claims of a stolen election – the primary motivation for the violent mob that stormed the Capitol and disrupted eyewitness reports of Biden’s victory – the results were confirmed by government officials and backed by a court.

Trump Attorney General William Barr said in December 2020 that the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud that could alter the results.

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