Update (12/1/21): The House committee investigating January’s Capitol riots voted unanimously Wednesday night to pursue contempt charges against former assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark. However, unlike when they recommended contempt charges for former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, the committee is giving Clark another chance to meet with them. At Wednesday night’s meeting, committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said the committee was notified by Clark’s lawyer that Clark now wants to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
“This is, in my view, a last-ditch attempt to delay the Select Committee’s proceedings,” Rep. Thompson said. “However, a Fifth Amendment privilege assertion is a weighty one. Even though Mr. Clark previously had the opportunity to make these claims on the record, the Select Committee will provide him another chance to do so.”
Thompson went on to say the lawyer had offered “no specific basis for that assertion” and “no facts that would allow the committee to consider it.” Clark’s second chance to testify is set for Saturday.
Meanwhile, the recommendation of criminal contempt charges against Clark will now go to the full House for a vote. That vote is expected to be delayed until after the scheduled deposition.
Original Story (11/29/21): The House committee investigating January’s Capitol riots announced in a Tweet Monday when it “will vote on a report recommending that the House of Representatives cite Jeffrey Clark for criminal contempt of Congress and refer him for prosecution.” The vote will happen at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday.
Clark is a former assistant attorney general who aligned with former President Donald Trump as he tried to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. According to a report from Democrats in the Senate Judiciary Committee, this led to a clash with Justice Department superiors, culminating in a dramatic White House meeting at which Trump considered elevating Clark to attorney general. House Jan. 6 Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote in Clark’s subpoena that the committee’s probe “has revealed credible evidence that you attempted to involve the Department of Justice in efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power.” Rep. Thompson said Clark’s efforts “risked involving the Department of Justice in actions that lacked evidentiary foundation and threatened to subvert the rule of law.”
Earlier this month, Clark declined to be fully interviewed by the committee, telling them he would not answer questions based on Trump’s assertion of executive privilege in an ongoing court case. After Clark refused to answer questions, Thompson said it was “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.”
Clark will become the second person the House committee holds a contempt vote for. Last month, the committee voted to recommend contempt charges for former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. He was eventually indicted earlier this month. Clark’s case could be more complicated than Bannon for two reasons:
- Clark appeared for his deposition, Bannon did not.
- Clark was part of the Trump administration on Jan. 6, Bannon was not.
Wednesday’s vote will come as the committee is also considering contempt charges against former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who was Trump’s top aide on Jan. 6. Meadows was subpoenaed in September but has not yet sat for an interview with the committee.