The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Jan. 6 committee allows Trump DOJ official to postpone appearance after he loses his lawyer

Trump-era Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark has received a postponement of the Friday deadline for him appear before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Trump-era Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark has received a postponement of the Friday deadline for him appear before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. (Susan Walsh/AP/file)
Placeholder while article actions load

Jeffrey Clark, the Trump-era Justice Department official who sought to support President Donald Trump’s false claims of massive voting fraud in the 2020 election, has received a postponement of the Friday deadline for him to appear before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6. attack on the Capitol.

The panel made the decision Thursday after being informed that Clark’s lawyer, Robert Driscoll, had dropped his representation of the former Justice Department official. Because of the change, the committee granted Clark a brief postponement, according to a committee staffer who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision has not been announced publicly.

Getting Clark’s testimony is a high priority for the panel, which seeks to understand “all the details about efforts inside the previous administration to delay the certification of the 2020 election and amplify misinformation about the election results,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee chairman, said in a statement last week.

The committee issued a subpoena last week asking for documents and a deposition to be provided by Clark by the end of this week.

Last week, the House approved a criminal contempt report against former presidential adviser Stephen K. Bannon for his refusal to cooperate with the committee. In explaining his decision, Bannon’s lawyer cited Trump’s plan to invoke executive privilege.

It was not clear why Driscoll and Clark split, but people familiar with the matter suggested that it had to do with whether Clark would cooperate with the committee’s requests.

Clark, the former acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, emerged as a key player in Trump’s post-election efforts to challenge the 2020 election before the inauguration of President Biden.

Clark wrote and circulated a draft letter dated Dec. 28, addressed to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), that urged officials in that state to investigate unfounded claims of fraud. In addition, Trump considered a plan to oust then-acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and replace him with Clark, who appeared open to pursuing Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results.

Clark’s activities occurred about the same time that a constitutional lawyer, John Eastman, was circulating memos to White House officials describing how Vice President Mike Pence could block or postpone the certification of electors on Jan. 6 by citing ongoing voter-fraud concerns in the states. The committee is interested in understanding Eastman’s role and how, if at all, it intersected with the actions of Clark and others.

Rosen was interviewed by the House panel last week. Many of the questions posed to him focused on his interactions with Clark and who among Clark’s allies were inside the Justice Department and outside of the government, according to one of the people familiar with the meeting.

Details of Clark’s dealings with Rosen and Trump were uncovered initially thanks to cooperation between the Biden-era Justice Department and the congressional panels.

While Clark’s appearance has been postponed, the select committee faces another deadline Friday: responding to Trump’s lawsuit alleging that the House committee’s request for Trump-era documents is too broad, a “vexatious, illegal fishing expedition,” and that the committee doesn’t have any legitimate legislative purpose for requesting the documents. The lawsuit also claims that a lot of the information in question is covered by one form of privilege or another, whether it be attorney-client privilege or, in many cases, executive privilege.

Jacqueline Alemany contributed to this report.

Loading...