Jan. 6 probe: Former DOJ lawyer during Trump administration subpoenaed
WASHINGTON - The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol issued a subpoena Wednesday to a former Justice Department lawyer who positioned himself as an ally of President Donald Trump and aided Trump’s efforts to challenge the results of the presidential election.
The committee on Wednesday said it has demanded documents and testimony from Jeffrey Clark, a former assistant attorney general who lent a sympathetic ear to the president’s baseless claims that the election results were fraudulent. Clark clashed with superiors during the tumultuous final weeks of the Trump administration, including during a dramatic White House meeting.
The subpoena comes one week after the release of a Senate Judiciary Committee report that documented extraordinary tensions within the senior ranks of the Justice Department in December and January as Trump and allies prodded the law enforcement agency to aid in efforts to undo the election won by Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump’s own attorney general William Barr had said the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have overturned the results. Unsubstantiated claims of fraud have been repeatedly rejected by judge after judge, including by Trump appointees, and by election officials across the country.
FILE - The US Capitol seen on Sept. 19, 2021 with fencing and closed areas to the public.
Meanwhile, at least three of the officials involved in organizing and running the rally that preceded the violent storming of the Capitol are handing over documents in response to subpoenas.
The 11 organizers and staffers were given a Wednesday deadline to turn over documents and records as part of the committee's investigation into the deadly insurrection that marked the most serious breach of the Capitol building since the War of 1812. The organizers have also been asked to appear at separate depositions the committee has scheduled beginning later this month.
Other subpoenas have also been served to top White House officials and Trump advisers, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and adviser Steve Bannon, who has thus far refused to cooperate, putting him at risk of being charged with contempt.
Among those responding to the Wednesday deadline were Lyndon Brentnall, whose firm was hired to provide event security that day. "All the documents and communications requested by the subpoena were handed in," he told The Associated Press.
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Two longtime Trump campaign and White House staffers, Megan Powers and Hannah Salem, who were listed on the Jan 6. rally permit as "operations manager for scheduling and guidance" and "operations manager for logistics and communications," have also provided documents or are planning to do so.
Powers, who also served as the Trump reelection campaign’s director of operations, intends to provide the committee with the requested documentation and to meet with them — though it remains unclear what form such meetings will take, according to a person familiar with her response who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Brentnall had previously said his firm had "every intention" of complying with the select committee. "As far as we’re concerned, we ran security at a legally permitted event run in conjunction with the U.S. Secret Service and the Park Police," he said.
The committee has said the subpoenas are part of its effort to collect information "on the planning, organization, and funding" of the Jan. 6 rally as well as other events planned to support Trump's baseless claims of election fraud in the weeks between his November election defeat and the January attack.
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A committee spokesperson declined to comment Wednesday on the responses it had received and how many of the 11 were complying.
It remains unclear whether the others who were subpoenaed intend to cooperate.
They include Amy Kremer, the founder and chair of Women for America First, a pro-Trump group that was the lead organizer of the event; Cynthia Chafian, an organizer who submitted the first permit for the rally; and Caroline Wren, a veteran GOP fundraiser who was listed on permit paperwork for the Jan. 6 rally as a "VIP Advisor."
Also on the list are Maggie Mulvaney, a niece of former top Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who worked as director of finance operations for the Trump campaign and is now a congressional staffer; former Trump campaign official Katrina Pierson, who the committee says was "reportedly involved in the organization" of the rally on Jan. 6 and a smaller one the day before; and Justin Caporale and Tim Unes of Event Strategies Inc., who were listed on Jan. 6 permit paperwork as the rally’s project manager and stage manager, per the committee.
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None have responded to multiple requests for comment.
Two additional organizers, Ali Alexander and Nathan Martin, as well as their "Stop the Steal" organization, were also subpoenaed for documents, which are due Oct. 21.
Alexander wrote in a Telegram post Monday that the committee was "subpoenaing people in bad faith."
"So maybe this Select Commitee is bogus?" he added. "Everyone is waiting to see what I’ll do."
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The committee has said two top Trump officials — Meadows and former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel — are "engaging" with the committee, though it is unclear exactly what that entails. It is also unclear whether Dan Scavino, Trump's longtime social media director and one of his most loyal aides, will cooperate.
Members of the committee have said they are prepared to fight for the testimony and will use the courts to do so if necessary.
Many of the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, trying to halt the certification of President Joe Biden's victory, marched up the National Mall after attending at least part of Trump's rally, where he had repeated his baseless claims of election fraud and implored the crowd to "fight like hell."
The results of the election were confirmed by state officials and upheld by the courts.
At least nine people died during and after the attack, including a Trump supporter who was shot and killed by police as she tried to break into the House chamber.
Colvin reported from New York and Smith from Providence, Rhode Island.