Federal agents conducted a search Wednesday at the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who played a key role in President Donald Trump’s efforts to get law enforcement officials to challenge Joe Biden’s election victory.
Asked Thursday whether federal authorities were at the home in Lorton on Wednesday, around the same time that federal agents were delivering subpoenas and taking other investigative steps around the country, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. confirmed that “there was law enforcement activity in that general area yesterday.”
“We have no comment regarding the nature of that activity, or any particular individuals,” the spokesman said.
Clark, an environmental lawyer, now works at the Center for Renewing America, a conservative advocacy group. His boss there, Russell Vought, who during the Trump administration was director of the Office of Management and Budget, offered this description of the search:
“More than a dozen DOJ law enforcement officials searched Jeff Clark’s house in a predawn raid, put him in the streets in his PJs, and took his electronic devices. All because Jeff saw fit to investigate voter fraud. This is not America, folks. … We stand by Jeff and so must all patriots in this country.”
Clark’s attorney, Harry W. MacDougald, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Clark appeared on Fox News on Thursday night and likened the Justice Department’s near-simultaneous investigative actions taken against multiple people in multiple states to “Stasi-like” conduct, referring to the former Cold War-era East German secret police.
“This is highly politicized,” Clark said. “With the hearing that was pointed at me and targeted at me today...it looks highly coincidental.”
Clark’s conduct in late 2020 and early 2021 was also the focus of a hearing Thursday afternoon by the House select committee probing the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters determined to overturn Biden’s presidential victory.
Several former senior Justice Department officials testified about a bizarre effort by Clark to volunteer himself and the Justice Department as advocates for Trump’s bogus claims of massive voter fraud during the election. Clark proposed sending a letter to officials in key states that said the Justice Department had “identified significant concerns” about the vote and that the states should consider sending “a separate slate of electors supporting Donald J. Trump” for Congress to approve, according to hearing testimony.
Clark’s actions led to a dramatic confrontation at the White House on Jan. 3, 2021, when senior Justice Department officials told Trump they would resign — and many other senior officials would also quit — if the president appointed Clark in place of acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, who was refusing to legitimize the fraud claims.
The search at Clark’s home was first reported by ABC News.
It was carried out in conjunction with what appears to be a significant expansion of the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 investigation, now reaching far beyond the rioters who stormed the Capitol that day. Federal investigators are also exploring efforts by Trump and his supporters to try to undo Biden’s victories in a half-dozen key states — a plan that centered around trying to create legitimacy for bogus slates of alternate electors in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona and elsewhere.
Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward and her husband, Michael, who served as alternate electors, received grand jury subpoenas from the Justice Department on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment freely. They were delivered electronically.
“This is an investigation based on allegations that our clients engaged in core First Amendment-protected activity petitioning Congress for redress of grievances,” said lawyer Alexander Kolodin, who represents the Wards.
Separately, Nancy Cottle, who served as chair of the effort in Arizona, and Loraine Pellegrino, who served as secretary, also received subpoenas, the people familiar with the matter said. Neither could be reached for comment.
Also on Wednesday, federal agents served a subpoena to David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, who served as a Trump elector in that state, as well as to a lawyer in Georgia and a former Trump campaign official who worked in Arizona and New Mexico.
Many of the subpoenas served on Wednesday seek copies of communications with leading figures in the false-electors efforts, according to people familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing case.
Officials have previously said that the Justice Department and the FBI were examining the issue of false electors, who Trump and others hoped might be approved by state lawmakers in a last-ditch bid to keep Trump in the White House.
Until Wednesday, however, those investigative efforts seemed to primarily involve talking to people in Republican circles who knew of the plan and objected. The most recent subpoenas and searches suggest that the Justice Department is now moving to question at least some of those who allegedly agreed to pursue the false-elector effort.
The public hearings being conducted by the House panel are separate from the Justice Department investigation and do not carry criminal or legal weight. But they are covering similar ground in some cases.
Arizona and Georgia officials testified Tuesday before the committee about the false-elector activities and pressure to reverse the election results that Trump and his inner circle directed at those states.
On Thursday, the number of people receiving subpoenas appeared to grow. FBI agents interviewed Allegheny County Republican Party Chairman Sam DeMarco at his home in Pennsylvania on Thursday and gave him a subpoena with a July 8 deadline for communications between him, Trump electors in the state and members of Trump’s campaign and legal team, he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. DeMarco said in a statement reported by the Associated Press that his actions were “open, above-board and predicated solely on protecting President Trump’s legal rights should he prevail in court. That is why I agreed to serve as an elector solely in the event the president prevailed in his legal challenge to the Pennsylvania vote.”
In Michigan, Michele Lundgren told the Detroit News that the FBI served her and another one of Trump’s 16 electors with a subpoena Thursday. Lundgren, 72, said that her discussion was “long” and “pleasant,” that she let an agent go through her phone and computer, and that her subpoena sought an interview on July 8 in Washington.
“They kept asking me questions and asking me questions, and I kept telling them answers,” she told the Detroit News.
DeMarco and Lundgren did not immediately respond to requests from The Washington Post for comment.
Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Michael Kranish contributed to this report.