Federal investigators on Wednesday searched the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, in connection with the Department’s extensive criminal investigation into attempts to overturn the 2020 election, people familiar with the case and an associate of Mr Clark said.
It is not yet clear what exactly the investigators were looking for. But Mr. Clark has been central to President Donald J. Trump’s failed attempt in late 2020 to convince the country’s top prosecutors to support his allegations of voter fraud, and the search suggested the criminal investigation could be getting closer to Mr. Trump. .
The law enforcement action at Mr. Clark’s suburban Virginia home came just one day before the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack held a hearing detailing Mr. Trump were set out to pressure the judge. to help him undo his election defeat.
In particular, the committee examined Mr. Clark’s role in helping Mr. Trump — ultimately in vain — to pressure the department to give credence to his baseless claims about voter fraud and put pressure on officials in Georgia, a major swingstate, to reconsider their certification of Joseph. The victory of R. Biden Jr.
One of the employees of Mr. Clark described the striking scene early Wednesday morning when a dozen federal law enforcement officers raided the home, destroying Mr. confiscated Clark and threw him out in his pajamas.
“All because Jeff saw fit to investigate voter fraud,” said the collaborator, Russ Vought, who heads the Center for Renewing America, where Mr. Clark is a senior fellow. “This is not America, folks. Government armaments must stop.”
Mr Clark and his attorney declined to comment.
The search of Mr. Clark’s home was an important step in the Justice Department’s much-discussed investigation into attempts to undermine the democratic process after the 2020 election.
A separate strand of the investigation was unveiled in the early spring when grand jury subpoenas were issued seeking information on a broad cast of political organizers, White House aides and members of Congress variously connected to the Trump’s incendiary speech near the White House immediately preceding the storming of the Capitol.
Mr. Clark’s involvement in the investigation was also the latest sign that the department’s investigation was getting closer and closer to Mr. Trump himself — and some of his allies in Congress. Mr. Clark worked closely with Mr. Trump in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, when Mr. Trump’s options were closed, to use the Justice Department as a tool to achieve his political goals .
Encouraged by members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, Mr. Trump contemplated a plan in the days just before the Jan. 6 attack to appoint Mr. Clark as acting attorney general as acting attorney general.
The themes of the 6 January committee hearings
At that time, Mr. Clark suggested sending a letter to state officials in Georgia falsely alleging that the department had evidence that could lead Georgia to its certification of Mr. Biden to revoke that crucial record. The effort was cut short by his superiors in the department.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has said little publicly about the criminal investigation other than that the Justice Department would follow suit. But he is under pressure from some Democrats, including members of the House select committee, to hold Trump and his allies accountable for attempting to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.
The developments regarding Mr. Clark came to light when a federal grand jury sitting in Washington continued to issue subpoenas against people involved in a related plan by Mr. Trump and his allies to reverse the election: an attempt to undermine the normal functioning of the election process by creating false slates of pro-Trump voters in states actually won by Mr. Biden.
According to several people familiar with the case, at least nine people in four different states have received subpoenas in the past two days in connection with the fake election investigation. It was largely those who agreed to vote for Trump themselves or were aides to Trump’s campaign in states where the plan was being implemented.
Among those who received subpoenas were Kelli Ward, the chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, and her husband, Michael, who both served as voters on Mr. Trump’s alleged slate in the state, according to a person familiar with the case. Subpoenas were issued along with the Wards against two other pro-Trump voters in Arizona, Nancy Cottle and Loraine B. Pellegrino, the person said.
Their lawyer, Alexander Kolodin, attacked the Justice Department’s fake voter survey.
“This is an investigation based on allegations that our clients engaged in the core business of the First Amendment – filing a petition to Congress on grievances,” said Mr. Kolodin.
On Wednesday night, a local Nevada news station reported yet another development in the fake election investigation: Federal agents armed with search warrants had seized the phone of Michael McDonald, the president of the Nevada Republican Party who is a pro-Trump president. had served. voter in the state. A search warrant was also issued for the party’s secretary, James DeGraffenreid, who had also participated in the scheme as a voter, the news outlet reported.
Attorneys for Mr McDonald and Mr DeGraffenreid did not return on Thursday to request comment.
While several Trump state officials and campaign staff have received subpoenas in the fake election investigation, the investigation has focused primarily on a group of lawyers who worked closely with Mr. Trump in devising the plan. Those attorneys include Rudolph W. Giuliani, who oversaw Trump’s election challenges in general, and John Eastman, who advised the former president on how to create fake voters, among other things.
Mr Giuliani and Mr Eastman have featured prominently in earlier hearings this month by the House select committee. The two men, the commission showed, were heavily involved in efforts to persuade state officials to send the election to Trump and to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to single-handedly award Trump a victory in the Electoral College. .
At the commission’s final hearing, on Tuesday, investigators first directly linked Trump to the bogus voter plan. The committee introduced a recorded statement from Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, in which she shared how Mr. Trump called her and put Mr. Eastman on the phone “to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign to these temporary voters.”
Mr. Clark’s role in the efforts to undermine the election is probably most closely linked to the press campaign against state officials to create pro-Trump voters.
In late December 2020, Mr. Clark, as acting chief of the Justice Department’s civil division, helped draft a letter to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declaring — without evidence — that the Justice Department had “significant concerns.” about the “election outcome” in Georgia and several other states.
The letter advised Mr. Kemp, a Republican, to convene a special session of his state’s General Assembly to “create a separate list of voters who support Donald J. Trump.”
Mr. Clark at the time pressured the acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, to sign the letter and send it to Mr. Kemp, but Mr. Rosen declined.
Rosen was one of the former Justice Department officials who testified before the House of Representatives committee about Mr. Clark on Thursday.
Katie Benner reporting contributed.