FILE PHOTO: Justice Department makes announcement on opioids settlement in Washington

Who is Jeffrey Clark and why is he important to the Jan. 6 hearings?

Jeffrey Clark, a high-ranking DOJ official in the Trump administration, did not appear publicly at the fifth House Jan. 6 committee hearing, but most of the witness testimony focused on his actions in President Donald Trump’s final weeks in office.

Clark was one of the few lawyers within the Department of Justice who was willing to act on Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud and requests for help in overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election, witnesses said during the committee’s June 23 hearing.

Clark was subpoenaed by the committee and agreed to be interviewed. However, that interview was cut short by Clark. In its June 23 hearing, the committee showed video of Clark invoking his 5th Amendment protections against self-incrimination at least twice

READ MORE: Who are the witnesses testifying at the Jan. 6 hearings?

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., questioned former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue and former Assistant Attorney General Jeff Engel about Clark’s actions, especially his offers to help the president in efforts to overturn the election.

Rosen told the committee that Clark was violating department policy from the start by communicating with anyone at the White House, since typically only the attorney general or deputy attorney general does so. Rosen reprimanded Clark, one of his employees, for talking to Trump in a private meeting about the issue. Rosen said Clark was “contrite” and assured him he did not intend to meet with the president again.

But Clark discussed the election with Trump many more times, including drafting a letter to send to state legislatures saying the department had concerns about the election and instructing them to find an alternate slate of electors.

Within a week, Trump had told Clark he intended to have him replace Rosenas acting attorney general. At the committee hearing, Kinzinger showed the White House call logs on Jan. 3, noting that Clark was already being noted as “Acting Attorney General.”

Ultimately, in a two and a half hour meeting that evening, according to Rosen, Donoghue and Engel, Trump decided not to replace Rosen with Clark.

At the end of the meeting, the president asked what was next for Clark, implying that Donoghue would fire him. When the deputy attorney general explained that only Trump had the power to fire Clark, Trump replied, “Well I’m not going to fire him,” Donoghue said.

“All right, well, then we should all get back to work,” Donoghue recalled responding.

Federal agents searched Clark’s Virginia home on June 22, a day before the fifth Jan. 6 committee hearing, though it’s not clear why or what they were seeking.

In a 2021 New York Times story on the alleged plan to fire Rosen, Clark denied being part of an effort to oust Rosen.

“There was a candid discussion of options and pros and cons with the president. It is unfortunate that those who were part of a privileged legal conversation would comment in public about such internal deliberations, while also distorting any discussions,” Clark told the New York Times.

For more on the key players in the Jan. 6 committee hearings, click here.

Support PBS NewsHour: