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House Jan. 6 panel votes to hold ex-DOJ official Jeffrey Clark in criminal contempt

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House Jan. 6 panel votes to hold ex-DOJ official Jeffrey Clark in criminal contempt
Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Clark speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., on October 21, 2020. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/EPA-EFE

Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend that Congress hold former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with its subpoena.

However, the House floor vote on the matter will be delayed as the committee has agreed to convene another deposition on Saturday for Clark after his lawyer Tuesday night stated he now intends to assert this Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

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"This is, in my view, a last-ditch attempt to delay the select committee's proceedings," Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said during the meeting prior to the panel agreeing to cite Clark for criminal contempt of Congress.

Clark was the acting head of the department's civil division and in contact with then-President Donald Trump in the days leading up to the attack by radical supporters of the former president.

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The committee subpoenaed Clark last month and he did appear for a deposition, but refused to answer questions -- citing Trump's ongoing legal bid to block hundreds of White House records from House investigators.

"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 said. "I have informed Mr. Clark's attorney that I am willing to convene another deposition at which Mr. Clark can assert that privilege on a question-by-question basis, which is what the law requires of someone who asserts the privilege against self-incrimination."

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With the panel's vote Wednesday, he is the second person to face contempt of Congress in the matter after former White House adviser Steve Bannon.

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In a document highlighting the accusation, the committee said Clark's actions violated the subpoena.

Clark's attorney said in a letter to the committee that Clark's past communications with Trump are protected by executive privilege and "vital to the constitution separation of power."

Trump and Bannon have also stuck to their claims of executive privilege in refusing to cooperate with House investigators.

RELATED Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Alex Jones, Roger Stone

The vote on Clark comes a day after another of the committee's potential targets reversed course.

Thompson said that the panel has come to an agreement with Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to cooperate. He said Meadows will sit for an initial deposition and has already turned over some records to the committee.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger testified before the committee for four hours on Tuesday, according to ABC News. Trump and his advisers tried to get Raffensberger to invalidate the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state that favored then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

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During a now-infamous phone call a year ago, Trump asked Raffensperger to "find" about 12,000 votes so that he could overtake Biden's total in Georgia, which was one of several battleground states that helped Biden clinch the electoral victory. He was the first Democrat in almost 30 years to carry Georgia.

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