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Feds raid home of Trump-era official, subpoena GOP leaders

Federal agents searched the home of a former senior Justice Department official and seized records from key Republicans in at least five states associated with him Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 electionwhich were clear signs that the authorities are intensifying their investigations into the former president’s associates.

Authorities on Wednesday searched the Virginia home of Jeffrey Clark, known at the Justice Department for representing Trump’s false allegations of voter fraud. Agents have also served subpoenas in recent days against Republican Party leaders from Arizona, Nevada and Georgia, three states that elected President Joe Biden and where Trump allies compiled lists of “alternative voters” to undermine the vote. And Republicans in two other states – Michigan and Pennsylvania – announced they had been questioned by the FBI.

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The Justice Department appears to be escalating its investigation into pro-Trump efforts to overthrow the 2020 election, which is taking place in the deadly uprising on January 6th. The disclosure of law enforcement activities came as the US House of Representatives committee investigating the riot said it had new evidence of Trump’s efforts and his knowledge that he had no legal basis to try to overturn the election.

The committee’s hearing on Thursday focused on Trump’s desire to put Clark at the helm of the Justice Department in the final days of his administration. The reason for the search of Clark’s home was not immediately clear, and it was not known what the information agents were looking for. The person who confirmed the search was not authorized to speak about it by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

In a Thursday night interview on Fox News Channel, Clark claimed the timing of the search warrant was “highly politicized” and questioned why his home was searched a day before the congressional hearing.

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“It looks very random and… I just don’t believe in coincidences,” he said.

Both the committee and federal agencies are reviewing the use of substitutes for properly selected voters in seven battleground states that voted for Biden. Trump and his allies furiously pressured authorities in those states to replace Biden’s voters with those for him, amid flimsy or nonexistent allegations that his victory was stolen.

The committee in this week published text messages showing that an aide to US Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican and Trump ally, attempted to personally deliver fake ballot papers to an aide to former Vice President Mike Pence. The texts show that Pence’s adviser refused to take the votes.

Johnson told a Conservative radio host in Wisconsin Thursday that the fake election lists came from Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly’s office. A spokesperson for Kelly responded that Johnson’s claim was “manifestly false.”

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The announcer, Matt Knoedler, said: “Mr. Kelly has not spoken to Senator Johnson in nearly a decade, and he is unaware of the claims Mr. Johnson is making in connection with the 2020 election.”

Among those who have received subpoenas in recent days was Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer, according to a person familiar with the matter who has not been authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald handed his phone to federal agents Wednesday when they approached him in front of his car in Las Vegas and produced an arrest warrant, according to another person familiar with the matter. McDonald stood with other bogus voters outside the Nevada capital in December 2020 to swear a so-called “oath of office,” flanked by men in camouflage clothing with semi-automatic rifles.

Arizona Republican Party leader Kelli Ward, her husband Michael Ward and two other deputy electors also received subpoenas, according to a third person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

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In Pennsylvania, FBI agents interviewed the Allegheny County Republican Party leader at his home Thursday and gave him a subpoena for communications between him, Trump state electors and members of Trump’s campaign and legal team, party official Sam DeMarco said Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

DeMarco said in a statement that his conduct as a voter was “frank, correct and designed solely to protect President Trump’s legal rights should he prevail in court.” For that reason, I have agreed to serve as a voter only in the event that the President prevails in his legal challenge to the Pennsylvania vote.”

And in Michigan, Michele Lundgren told the Detroit News that someone from the FBI served her a subpoena Thursday and that another Trump elector was served Wednesday. Lundgren, 72, said her discussion with the agent was “long” and “enjoyable” and she let one of the agents go through her phone and computer.

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“They kept asking me questions and asking me questions, and I kept giving them answers,” she said.

Clark’s home was raided by federal agents shortly before a committee hearing at which he was the focus. Three other former Justice Department officials testified about an extraordinary meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 3, 2021, at which Trump considered nominating Clark — who headed the Department’s Civil Division — in place of Jeffrey Rosen, who resisted Trump’s efforts to have him included Acting Attorney General appoint agency.

Trump only relented when other senior Justice Department officials warned Trump they would resign if he went through with his plan to replace Rosen with Clark.

An attorney for Clark did not respond to an email and phone message seeking comment.

Chairman Bennie Thompson said he read about the raid on Clark’s home just before the hearing began. “We are not privy to the Justice Department’s reasoning,” he said. “As you know, we showed that he was recommended to run the Justice Department and people thought he was utterly unqualified.”

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Russ Vought, president of the Center for Renewing America, which Clark recently joined as a senior fellow, tweeted that federal officials forced Clark “out into the street” while he was in pajamas and “took his electronic devices.”

“All because Jeff saw fit to investigate voter fraud,” Vought continued. “This isn’t America, folks. Government arming must end. Let me be very clear. We stand by Jeff and that’s what every patriot in this country needs to do.”

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Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, Sara Burnett in Chicago, Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Sam Metz in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Michelle L. Price in New York contributed to this report.

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For full coverage of the January 6 hearings, see https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/23/agents-search-home-of-trump-era-justice-dept-official/ Feds raid home of Trump-era official, subpoena GOP leaders

Sarah Y. Kim

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