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January 6 committee subpoenas former DOJ official who pushed election fraud lie and interviews another who pushed back

By Annie Grayer, Ryan Nobles, Zachary Cohen and Whitney Wild, CNN

The House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has subpoenaed Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official who was integral to helping then-President Donald Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, the committee announced Wednesday.

And former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen met in-person with the committee for about eight hours on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter. Rosen served in the role during the final days of the Trump administration.

Both moves underscore the panel’s interest in learning more about how Trump attempted to pressure top officials to investigate claims of election fraud during the former President’s final days in office — an issue the committee has said is a focal point of its sweeping probe into the events around January 6.

Clark and Rosen were featured heavily in a recent report issued by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee that highlighted the relentlessness of Trump and some of his top advisers as they fixated on using the Justice Department to prop up false conspiracy teories about the election.

The Senate report, which provided the most comprehensive account so far of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election to date, described his conduct as an abuse of presidential power.

While select committee chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, previously said the panel considers the Senate report a helpful resource in its investigation, the committee is now making clear it wants to hear from the former DOJ officials directly.

The select committee has already interviewed Rosen’s former deputy, Richard Donoghue.

Clark, a Trump-appointed environment law chief at the Justice Department, has become a major figure in the emerging narrative about behind-the-scenes efforts by Trump and his closest allies to orchestrate a leadership coup at the Justice Department and peddle lies about election fraud.

The Washington Post was first to report that Clark may be subpoenaed as early as Wednesday. Politico first reported the committee’s Wednesday interview with Rosen.

Based on documents uncovered by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has its own investigation, Clark drafted a letter December 28 to Georgia officials in which he falsely asserted the Department of Justice had found voting irregularities that impacted the outcomes of the presidential election in several states.

The Justice Department by then had made clear it found no evidence of vote-changing in the election. Clark wanted Rosen and Donoghue to sign the draft of the letter, but they both refused.

In an email obtained by CNN, Donoghue said at the time, “There is no chance that I would sign this letter or anything remotely like this … from where I stand, this is not even within the realm of possibility.”

In addition, in its subpoena, the committee cites that Clark proposed a news conference announcing that the Department of Justice was investigating allegations of election fraud.

“The Select Committee’s investigation has revealed credible evidence that you attempted to involve the department of justice in efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power” the panel said in its subpoena letter to Clark. “These proposals were rejected by Department leadership as both lacking a factual basis and inconsistent with the Department’s institutional role.”

The committee also referenced how Clark worked closely with Trump to craft a plan to replace Rosen with himself and use the Department of Justice to undo Georgia’s election results, and “failed to abide by the Department’s policy on contacts with the White House.”

“Your efforts risked involving the Department of Justice in actions that lacked evidentiary foundation and threatened to subvert the rule of law,” the subpoena states.

The subpoena requires Clark to produce records and testify at a deposition on October 29.

By subpoenaing Clark, the House committee is zeroing in on how uncovering efforts to challenge, overturn and question the validity of the 2020 presidential election.

“The Select Committee needs 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,” Thompson said in a statement. “We need to understand Mr. Clark’s role in these efforts at the Justice Department and learn who was involved across the administration The Select Committee expects Mr. Clark to cooperate fully with our investigation.”

Clark’s team has been discussing a potential interview on Capitol Hill for months, according to a person familiar with the matter. This summer, the Senate Judiciary Committee had reached out to Clark for an interview before it spoke with top DOJ officials who explained how Clark was a key component of Trump’s plan to promote election fraud conspiracies in the Justice Department.

The subpoena now makes it likely that Clark will testify, according to a person familiar with his talks with the committee. His other option would be to refuse to appear on Capitol Hill, leading to contempt proceedings. As a former Justice Department employee whose colleagues have already testified about him, Clark’s options are especially limited, the person said.

Clark’s subpoena letter comes as the committee faces a big week of subpoena deadlines for individuals they have previously served. Kash Patel and Steve Bannon are scheduled for depositions on Thursday, and Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino are scheduled for depositions the following day.

While the committee has shared that Patel and Meadows are engaging with them, they were only recently able to successfully serve Scavino, and Bannon has so far not been cooperating.

As these deadlines approach, committee members have been unified this week in stating that criminal contempt should quickly be the next step for anyone who defies their subpoena.

This headline and story have been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Evan Perez and Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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