WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal agents searched the home of a top former Justice Department official and seized data from key Republicans across the country linked to Donald Trump’s efforts to undo 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 to the Justice Department as an advocate of Trump’s false allegations of electoral fraud. Agents also served subpoenas against the Republican Party chairmen of Nevada and Georgia, two states that went for President Joe Biden and where Trump allies created slates of “alternative voters” intended to undermine the vote.
News of law enforcement actions in three states suggested the Justice Department is stepping up its investigation into pro-Trump efforts to undo the 2020 election. It came when the US House committee investigating the January 6 insurgency says it has new evidence of Trump’s efforts and knows there was no legal basis to undo the election.
The committee held a hearing Thursday that is expected to discuss Trump’s desire to install Clark atop the Justice Department in the final days of his administration. The reason for the search of Clark’s Virginia home was not immediately apparent, and it was not known which intelligence agents were looking for.
The person who confirmed the search was not authorized to discuss it by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Among those who received subpoenas, according to a person familiar with the case and not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation, was David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgian Republican Party.
Nevada GOP chairman Michael McDonald handed over his phone to federal agents on Wednesday as they approached him outside his car in Las Vegas and presented a warrant, according to another person familiar with the situation.
The search of Clark’s home was also confirmed on Twitter by Russ Vought, president of the Center for Renewing America, which Clark had recently joined as a senior fellow.
“Yesterday, over a dozen DOJ law enforcement officers searched Jeff Clark’s home during a predawn raid, kicked him out in his pajamas and took his electronic devices,” Vought tweeted. “All because Jeff saw fit to investigate voter fraud. This is not America, folks. Government arming must stop. Let me be very clear. We stand behind Jeff and so do all the patriots in this country. ‘
Clark’s activities at the Justice Department, notably his advocacy of Trump’s allegations of voter fraud, are part of Thursday’s House hearing investigating the riots. Three other former Justice Department officials will testify, including about an extraordinary meeting of the Oval Office on Jan. 3, 2021, during which Trump considered appointing Clark — who headed the department’s civil division — as acting attorney general instead. by Jeffrey Rosen, who opposed Trump’s statement. efforts to involve the agency.
Trump only relented when other senior Justice Department officials warned Trump that they would resign if he went ahead with his plan to replace Rosen with Clark.
A lawyer for Clark did not return an email and phone message asking for comment.
Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price in New York contributed to this report.