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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Lawyer who aided Trump is subpoenaed by Jan. 6 committee

Jill Colvin, Michelle R. Smith, Eric Tucker and Mary Claire Jalonik | Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A House committee investigating the January 6 riots at the US Capitol sent a subpoena to a former Justice Department attorney who has positioned himself as an ally of Donald Trump and helped the Republican president challenge the 2020 election results.

Jeffrey Clarke’s subpoena, released Wednesday, comes amid a rapidly escalating congressional investigation. At least three people who were involved in organizing and conducting the rally that preceded the violent riot handed over documents in response to subpoenas from the committee.

Clark’s demands for documents and testimony reflect the committee’s efforts to investigate not only the deadly uprising, but also the unrest that rocked the Justice Department weeks earlier, when Trump and his allies relied on government lawyers to advance their baseless claims that the election results were rigged. Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to thwart congressional confirmation of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.

Clark, assistant attorney general in the Trump administration, played a key role in this saga. A Senate committee report released last week shows how he defended Trump’s efforts to overturn the Justice Department’s election results and as a result clashed with bosses who resisted pressure, culminating in a dramatic White House meeting in which Trump voiced his idea of ​​Clarke’s rise. … the attorney general.

“The Special Committee’s investigation has uncovered strong evidence that you were trying to involve the Justice Department in trying to prevent a peaceful transfer of power,” Democratic Chairman Benny Thompson of Mississippi wrote to Clark. subpoena.

Although Trump ultimately did not appoint Clark as acting attorney general, “Clark’s efforts risked engaging the Justice Department in actions that were inconclusive and threatened to violate the rule of law,” Thompson added.

The committee set the testimony for October 29 and demanded documents by the same date. Clark’s lawyer declined to comment.

The Jan. 6 commission has so far solicited testimony from a wide range of witnesses, but its demands on Trump aides and associates are potentially complicated by Trump’s oath to fight their cooperation on the basis of executive privilege.

One witness, Steve Bannon, has already told the committee that he would not cooperate on the Trump directive, although the committee said it was “engaging” with two other Trump officials – former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and a former Defense Department official. Kashyap Patel. It’s also unclear if Dan Scavino, Trump’s longtime director of social media and one of his most trusted aides, will collaborate.

Biden formally rejected Trump’s demand for executive privileges over a tranche of documents requested during the former president’s tenure at the White House, and set up a potential transfer to Congress in mid-November. White House adviser Dana Remus wrote to the National Archives in a letter released Wednesday, in which Biden believes that “it is not in the interests of the United States to assert executive privileges.”

Others are cooperating nonetheless, including some of the 11 people who organized or staffed Trump’s rally that preceded the riot. They were given a deadline for the transfer of documents and records on Wednesday, and they were asked to appear for separate testimonies, which the committee planned for the beginning of this month.

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Among those who responded to Wednesday’s deadline was Lyndon Brentnoll, whose firm was hired to secure the events that day. “All documents and messages requested in court have been transferred,” he told The Associated Press.

Brentnall has previously stated that his firm is “committed” to obeying the elected committee. “As far as we know, we provided security at a legal event with the US Secret Service and park police,” he said.

Two longtime Trump and White House campaigners, Megan Powers and Hannah Salem, who were listed in the January 6 rally permit as “Operations Manager for Planning and Leadership” and “Operations Manager for Logistics and Communications”, have also provided documents or are planning to do so. …

Powers, who served as director of operations for Trump’s re-election campaign, intends to provide the requested documentation and meet with the committee – although it remains unclear what form such meetings will take, according to someone familiar with her response, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Many of the rebels who stormed the Capitol on January 6 marched down the National Mall after attending at least part of Trump’s rally, where he reiterated his baseless allegations of electoral fraud and pleaded with the crowd to “fight like hell.”

The election results were confirmed by government officials and upheld by the court. Trump’s Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread fraud to disprove the results.

It remains unclear whether the others called to court intend to cooperate. A committee spokesman declined to comment Wednesday on the responses received and how many of the 11 are meeting the requirements.

Committee members, including Wyoming spokesman Liz Cheney, the Republican vice chairman of the commission, have threatened to bring contempt criminal charges against summoned witnesses who refuse to comply. A House vote will direct these allegations to the Justice Department, which will then decide whether to pursue a case.

Clark’s subpoena follows the publication of a Senate Judiciary Committee report documenting extreme tensions at the top ranks of the Justice Department in December and January, when Trump and his allies pushed law enforcement to help him cancel the election.

In the Democratic Majority report, Clark is portrayed as an implacable defender inside Trump’s efforts, even presenting to colleagues a draft letter urging the Georgian authorities to convene a special legislative session following the election. Clark wanted the letter to be sent, but officials at the Department of Justice refused.

“We need to understand Mr. Clark’s role in this Department of Justice effort and find out who was involved in the administration,” Thompson wrote.

Two additional organizers, Ali Alexander and Nathan Martin, and their organization, Stop the Steal, have also been summoned to court for documents due on October 21st.

Alexander wrote on Telegram on Monday that the committee is “calling people to court in bad faith.”

“So maybe this Special Committee is a fake?” he added. “Everyone is waiting to see what I am going to do.”

Colvin reported from New York and Smith from Providence, Rhode Island. Associated Press contributors Farnush Amiri and Zeke Miller from Washington contributed to this report.

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