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House January 6 committee to meet on holding Trump ally Jeffrey Clark in contempt

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The House January 6 select committee is preparing to advance a contempt of congress charge against a former Trump administration official, the panel announced Monday.

The select committee investigating the deadly attack on the Capitol plans to meet Wednesday to vote on whether to recommend if the full House should hold Trump ally Jeffrey Clark, in contempt of Congress. He would be the second Trump ally to be found in contempt of congress for failing to comply with a subpoena from the panel.

Clark, who ran the Environment and Natural Resources division of the Justice Department under former President Trump, attempted to use federal resources to delay the certification of 2020 election results, according to a report released in early October by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The January 6 select committee issued him a subpoena shortly after that report was released. Clark has refused to answer questions from the committee, claiming the information they sought was protected by executive privilege.

"It's astounding that someone who so recently held a position of public trust to uphold the Constitution would now hide behind vague claims of privilege by a former President, refuse to answer questions about an attack on our democracy, and continue an assault on the rule of law," the panel's chairman, Congressman Bennie Thompson, said in a statement earlier this month.

Capitol Breach Clark Deposition
Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Clark speaks as he stands next to Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, October 21, 2020.  Yuri Gripas / AP

The committee plans to hold a "business meeting" on Wednesday where its nine members will outline the case for holding Clark in contempt and vote on whether to advance it. The Democratic-controlled House will then likely pass the measure, referring the matter to the Justice Department for prosecution.

The House voted in October to do so to former White House advisor Steve Bannon. Earlier this month, the Justice Department charged Bannon with two counts of contempt of Congress, each which could carry up to a year in prison.

Clark is believed to be central to the efforts of the Trump administration to delay the certification of the election results and convince the public without evidence that President Biden had not legitimately won the election. Clark was in contact with Mr. Trump in the days leading up to January 6, according to the Senate Judiciary committee's report.

The report found that as an assistant attorney general, Clark proposed urging state legislators in Georgia to delay the certification of the Senate election there. The committee also said he pleaded with Jeffrey Rosen, the acting attorney general at the time, to hold a press conference and say "there was corruption" in the election despite no evidence there was.

Clark is one of many Trump allies to be subpoenaed by the committee, including Stephen Miller, and Kayleigh McEnany, and the committee's leaders have hinted that more contempt charges could be in the pipeline for those who don't comply. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows refused to sit with the committee earlier this month. In a statement at the time, Thompson and Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the committee's vice chair, said Meadows was unwilling to answer even basic questions about January 6.

"Mr. Meadows's actions today—choosing to defy the law—will force the Select Committee to consider pursuing contempt or other proceedings to enforce the subpoena," Thompson and Cheney said in a statement at the time.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi created the House select committee earlier this year to investigate the January 6 attack, when thousands of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol as Congress counted the electoral votes, a largely ceremonial final step affirming Mr. Biden's victory. Lawmakers were sent fleeing amid the riot, which led to the deaths of five people and the arrests of hundreds more. Mr. Trump, who encouraged his supporters to "walk over" to the Capitol during the Stop the Steal rally, was impeached by the House one week later for inciting the riot but was later acquitted by the Senate.

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