WASHINGTON – Federal authorities on Wednesday conducted a search at the suburban Virginia home of former Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark, once central to Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.
The law enforcement action comes as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol prepared to outline how Trump unsuccessfully sought to install Clark as acting attorney general to pursue false allegations of election fraud.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., confirmed that law enforcement activity occurred in the general vicinity of Clark’s home, but declined to describe the purpose of the action.
Clark could not be reached for comment Thursday. His attorney did not immediately respond to inquiries.
Russell Vought, a former Trump administration official who now heads the conservative Center for Renewing America, defended Clark, who has served as a senior fellow for the group. He described the search Thursday on Twitter as a “pre-dawn raid” involving more than a dozen investigators in which Clark was placed on the street in his pajamas as authorities seized electronic devices.
“This is not America, folks,” Vought tweeted. “The weaponization of govt must end. Let me be very clear. We stand by Jeff and so must all patriots in this country.”
The House committee Thursday heard testimony testimony from three former top Justice officials, including former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, about Clark’s efforts to countermand them by drafting a letter to Georgia officials seeking to delay the state’s certification of election results.
Follow the Jan. 6 hearing live: Former Justice Department officials to testify on Trump plan to install friendly AG – Jan. 6 live blog
What we know about Thursday’s hearing: The next Jan. 6 hearing will dig into Trump’s dealings with the DOJ. Here’s what we know.
According to the officials, Clark sought to enlist Rosen to assist in Trump’s election scheme, once telling Rosen that he would decline Trump’s offer that he take Rosen’s place if the acting attorney general agreed to join.
The effort included a contentious Jan. 3, 2021, Oval Office meeting when Richard Donoghue, then-acting deputy attorney general, warned that a mass resignation of Justice Department officials and federal prosecutors would follow if Trump moved to replace Rosen with Clark to aid the president’s election subversion scheme.
Donoghue also testified Thursday, asserting that Clark persisted with the plan despite stark warnings from both Rosen and Donoghue.
During the three-hour meeting, then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone and deputy counsel Patrick Philbin also threatened to tender their resignations, reportedly calling Clark’s efforts to pursue unfounded voter fraud allegations a “murder-suicide pact.”
Clark made a brief video appearance at Thursday’s panel hearing, recorded from a prior meeting with the committee in which he declined to answer questions.
Asked about the letter intended for Georgia officials, Clark invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self incrimination.
“Fifth,” Clark said.
Jan. 6 committee evidence: Is the Jan. 6 committee sitting on explosive evidence of Trump’s role in the Capitol assault?
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Feds search VA home of Jeffrey Clark, former official in Trump’s DOJ