FBI raid on Trump Justice Official signals possible criminal investigation

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A video featuring former President Donald Trump is played during the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol in Washington, DC on June 23, 2022.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Just before the In a dramatic January 6 House committee hearing on Thursday into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to use the Justice Department to nullify the 2020 election, the FBI raided the home of Jeffrey Clark, the former Justice Department official who has worked most closely with Trump to try to keep him in power.

The FBI raid was overshadowed by the subsequent hearing, in which Clark’s efforts to conspire with Trump were laid bare. But the raid is significant because it provides a tentative sign that the Justice Department may finally be conducting a criminal investigation into Trump and his allies for their attempted coup.

Until recently, the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6 insurgency appeared to be focused on individuals who were part of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election. Federal prosecutors brought modest charges against many of these low-level rioters, leading to criticism that Attorney General Merrick Garland was not prosecuting the powerful responsible for inciting the the insurrection.

But in early June, prosecutors charged the leader of the Proud Boys and other members of the extremist white nationalist group with seditious conspiracy – the first sign that Garland and the Justice Department were beginning to oppose the leadership of the insurgency. . Now, the raid on Clark’s home suggests the Justice Department has extended its investigation beyond Jan. 6, to investigate repeated attempts by Trump and his allies throughout the transition period between November 2020 and January 2021 in an attempt to illegally annul the election.

Evidence of a broader Justice Department investigation comes as the House Jan. 6 committee far exceeded expectations for its public hearings, revealing damning evidence of the lengths Trump was willing to go to to stay in power . The hearings turned into something like a nationally televised criminal referral to the Department of Justice. It would be difficult for Garland not to act on the facts revealed during the House hearings.

If a criminal conspiracy case is to be developed against Trump, gathering evidence from and about Clark would be a good place to start.

Clark is a conservative lawyer from Washington, D.C. who has bounced between law firms, government jobs, and right-wing activism. After representing BP in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, he joined Trump’s Justice Department as assistant attorney general for the environmental and natural resources division, where he sought to delay the filing of charges against a pipeline operator in North Dakota for a sewage spill.

Clark was a Trump loyalist, willing to do anything to help the president stay in power. Amid Trump’s frantic efforts to nullify the election, Clark was eager for Trump to fire acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and then take over at the Justice Department. Once in charge, he planned to send a letter to Georgia state officials falsely claiming that the Justice Department had found evidence of voter fraud and recommending that the Georgia state legislature be convened in extraordinary session to reopen the whole debate on who won the presidential election there. The letter not sent was filled with lies; the Justice Department had no evidence of voter fraud. Trump had been repeatedly told by senior justice officials that they had no such evidence, and Clark must have known that as well.

Trump nearly fired Rosen and appointed Clark to head the Justice Department, and testimony from former Justice Department officials at Thursday’s hearing revealed that Trump was only dissuaded from it after a marathon White House meeting in which Rosen and other senior Justice Department officials told Trump there was no evidence of fraud and warned Trump there would be mass resignations from the department of Justice if he installed Clark.

Eric Herschmann, a lawyer who worked for Trump, told the House committee that he warned Clark that if he took over at the Justice Department and sent the letter to Georgia officials, he would be guilty of a crime. . This may explain the FBI’s raid on Clark’s house, where the Justice Department case against Trump may begin. Are Trump and Clark guilty of a “seditious conspiracy” at some level of the Proud Boys?

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