The select committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol unanimously voted to recommend holding former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark in contempt of Congress and referring him for criminal prosecution.

It did so despite Clark, shortly before the Wednesday committee vote, agreeing to appear before the committee for another deposition on Saturday. Clark’s lawyer had also told the committee at about 8 p.m. Tuesday that he planned to assert his Fifth Amendment rights against incriminating himself.

Whether the whole House takes the matter up for a vote and holds Clark in contempt of Congress will depend on how the deposition goes on Saturday.

“We have just learned that Mr. Clark has agreed to appear again to continue his deposition. However, we will proceed tonight with considering the contempt request, as this is just the first step of the contempt process,” said committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat. “We just want the facts, and we need witnesses to cooperate with the legal obligation and provide us with information about what led to the Jan. 6 attack. Mr. Clark still has that opportunity and I hope he takes advantage of it. But we will not allow anyone to run out the clock and we will insist that he must appear on this Saturday.”


Clark, who was Justice Department civil division acting chief under former President Donald Trump, appeared before the committee in early November and refused to cooperate. Instead, he delivered a letter from his lawyer defending his refusal to testify based on executive and attorney-client privilege.

The former Justice Department official was a key figure in Trump’s attempts to use the department to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He proposed to then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen that the Justice Department inform Georgia and other states of noticing election irregularities and recommending a special legislative session to evaluate them. Rosen, who opposed Clark’s plans, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Trump had planned to fire him and put Clark in his place.

“Imagine what would have happened if all the Trump-appointed leaders at the Justice Department had supported Clark, and had corruptly issued those false letters. Imagine what Jan. 6 would have been then an even more profound constitutional crisis,” said Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chairwoman of the committee.

She added that the committee would consider his wish to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege if he thinks that the information requested could incriminate him.

“We will not finalize this contempt process if Mr. Clark genuinely cures his failure to comply with the subpoena this Saturday,” Cheney said.

Cheney, who was ousted from her No. 3 House Republican leadership position over opposing Trump, also warned that the former president could be held criminally liable for making false statements to the committee.

“President Trump continues to make the same false claims about a stolen election, with which he has misled millions of Americans. These are the same claims he knows provoked violence in the past. He has recently suggested that he wants to debate members of this committee,” Cheney said. “This committee's investigation into the violent assault on our Capitol on Jan. 6 is not a game. When this committee convenes hearings, witnesses will be called to testify under oath. Any communication Mr. Trump has with this committee will be under oath. And if he persists in lying then, he will be accountable under the laws of this great nation and subject to criminal penalties for every false word he speaks.”


If the House takes up and passes the contempt resolution, Clark will be the second individual to be held in contempt of Congress over refusal to comply with the committee’s investigation, joining former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who was subsequently indicted by the Justice Department over the contempt charge and pleaded not guilty.

Nine House Republicans voted in favor of holding Bannon in criminal contempt, including Cheney and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the only other Republican on the select committee.