On Wednesday, the House select panel investigating the 6th January United States Capitol riot voted to pursue contempt criminal charges against the former Trump Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, who refused to answer the questions of the committee – but the panel agreed to give another chance to appear on Saturday. A committee aide tells CNN News that Clark is asking for the new deposition date, and the strategy is to wait to hold a Full House vote on the contempt charges report until at least after the weekend.
It is not clear when the full House could take up the contempt criminal resolution, but in case of adoption, it would be up to the DOJ to determine whether it wants to charge Clark for not obeying a congressional subpoena. During the hearing, Bennie G Thompson, the Committee Chairman, said that Clark informed the committee he now intends to claim 5th Amendment protection. So, the panel agrees to arrange another deposition at which Clark can assert that favor on a question-by-question basis.
The Jan 6 committee just voted to recommend the House hold Jeffrey Clark in contempt.
Clark has direct knowledge of Trump’s efforts to utilize the DOJ to prevent a peaceful transfer of power.
By refusing to appear, he’s violating the law. He will be held accountable.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) December 2, 2021
Thompson called Clark’s 11th-hour notice a last-ditch effort to delay the proceedings of the Select Committee. Furthermore, the vice-chair of the committee said during the hearing that the committee would definitely believe that they will not conclude Clark’s contempt process if he truly cures his failure to comply with the subpoena on 4th December.
House Charged Stephen K. Bannon on Two Counts of Charges
It is the second contempt referral of the committee against an ally of former Republican President Trump – the DOJ charged Stephen K. Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, on two counts of criminal charges last month. Contempt of Congress is a criminal misconduct offense that can bring up to one year in prison and a fine of up to around $100000.
According to a copy of the transcript released by the committee, Clark refused to answer questions about Trump during a scheduled testimony on 5th November. However, Harry MacDougald, Clark’s lawyer, presented the House committee with a letter that objected to providing any records or answering any questions, arguing that Clark didn’t have to because the former president declared they protected by executive privilege.
The interest of the committee in Clark stems from his efforts to get the DOJ to investigate the false claims of Trump of election fraud. According to the deposition transcript, representatives intended to ask Clark about his communications and discussions with Trump, in addition to efforts by the former president to install him as acting attorney general.
Steve Bannon is Awaiting Misdemeanor Criminal Contempt Charges
The criminal contempt report from the panel marks another milestone in the probe as the committee hopes that even the remote threat of jail time sparks more Trump-aligned witnesses to cooperate. Steve Bannon, the former President Trump ally, is also awaiting trial for a misdemeanor criminal charge after refusing to demonstrate for a deposition or provide papers to the panel, mentioning executive privilege claims made by Trump.
The committee released the contempt report on Clark on Tuesday night, which highlights the efforts of the panel to get him to obey the subpoena and his failure to do so. The committee didn’t invoke Clark formally with the 5th Amendment with his dealings with it, but Thompson said his actions specified his direction.
One of the committee members, Zoe Lofgren, the Democratic Representative of California, described the recent letter from the legal team of Clark as frivolous earlier in the day. The committee said in the twenty0-two-page report that Clark had violated DOJ policy when he met with the former president to discuss efforts to overturn Biden’s 2020 election victory. Further, he held conversations with Congress members about delegitimizing the presidential election.
Despite the former president’s false claims about a stolen election – the primary motivation for the violent demonstration that broke into the U.S. Capitol and interrupted Biden’s victory certification – state officials confirmed the results, and courts upheld them. William Barr, Trump’s own attorney general, said in December 2020 that the DOJ found no evidence of pervasive election fraud that could change the results. Lawmakers on the 6th January panel pledged to hold any eyewitness who does not comply in contempt as they inquire about the most terrible attack on the Capitol.