WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal agents searched the home of a former top Justice Department official and seized records from key Republicans across the country linked to Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, in an apparent escalation of investigations into associates of the former president.
Authorities searched the Virginia home of Jeffrey Clark, who was known at the Justice Department to champion Trump's false claims of election fraud. Agents also served subpoenas on the Republican Party chairmen of Nevada and Georgia, two states that went for President Joe Biden and where Trump allies created slates of “alternate electors” intended to subvert the vote.
The news of law enforcement action in three states suggested that the Justice Department is further accelerating its investigation into pro-Trump efforts to overturn the 2020 election. It came as the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection says it has new evidence of Trump's efforts and knowledge that there was no legal basis to overturn the election.
The committee held a hearing Thursday that was expected to feature Trump's desire to install Clark atop the Justice Department in his administration's last days. The reason for the search of Clark's Virginia home was not immediately clear and it was not known what information agents were searching for.
The person who confirmed the search was not authorized to discuss it by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Among those who have received subpoenas, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation, was Georgia Republican Party chairman David Shafer.
Nevada GOP Chair Michael McDonald turned over his phone to federal agents Wednesday when they approached him outside his car in Las Vegas and presented a warrant, according to another person familiar with the situation.
The search at Clark's home was also confirmed on Twitter by Russ Vought, president of the Center for Renewing America, which Clark recently joined as a senior fellow.
“Yesterday more than a dozen DOJ law enforcement officials searched Jeff Clark’s house in a pre dawn raid, put him in the streets in his pjs, and took his electronic devices," Vought tweeted. “All because Jeff saw fit to investigate voter fraud. This is not America, folks. The weaponization of govt must end. Let me be very clear. We stand by Jeff and so must all patriots in this country.”
Clark’s activities at the Justice Department, particularly his advocacy for Trump's voter fraud claims, are part of Thursday's House hearing investigating the riot. Three other former Justice Department officials will be testifying, including about an extraordinary Jan. 3, 2021, Oval Office meeting at which Trump contemplated naming Clark — who led the department's civil division — as acting attorney general in place of Jeffrey Rosen, who resisted Trump's efforts to involve the agency.
Trump relented only when other senior Justice Department officials warned Trump that they would resign if he followed through with his plan to replace Rosen with Clark.
A lawyer for Clark did not return an email and phone message seeking comment.
Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price in New York contributed to this report.
Michael Balsamo And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press