What Happened To Jeffrey Clark?

President of organization refuses to talk

Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark speaks next to Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a news conference. (Photo by Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty Images)
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October 14, 2021 1:17 p.m.

Jeffrey Bossert Clark, the former Trump DOJ official who sought to use the power of the federal government to block Biden’s win last year, received a subpoena on Wednesday from the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

Within hours of the subpoena being announced, Clark’s name and bio no longer appeared on the website of the conservative legal organization where has been working. TPM reported in August that Clark had been hired by the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a D.C.-based nonprofit that describes itself as aimed at “tam[ing] the unlawful power of state and federal agencies.”

NCLA doesn’t promote itself as an all-in, MAGA outfit. Rather, since its 2017 founding, NCLA has positioned itself as being part of a longer-term, conservative effort aimed at challenging the modern administrative state.

But it has taken on COVID-19 public health measures as part of that effort. In August, for example, it filed a class-action lawsuit against Michigan State University’s vaccine mandate. It also represented a George Mason University professor who, in NCLA’s words, fought the school’s “scientifically unsound vaccination mandate.”

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But after the Jan. 6 Committee announced the subpoena on Wednesday, the group’s webpage listing Clark as Director of Strategy and Chief of Litigation was removed. A hiring announcement released in July was also removed.

TPM made repeated requests to NCLA and to members of the group about whether Clark was still employed at NCLA, what the circumstances of his departure may have been, and whether that departure may have been linked to either the Jan. 6 Committee subpoena or to a report issued by Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats last week which described Clark’s efforts to wield the DOJ against the election results.

It’s not clear whether Clark still works at NCLA. He did not return an emailed request for comment at his NCLA address.

After TPM identified itself as a reporter, Philip Hamburger, NCLA’s president, founder, and a professor at Columbia Law School, said that he had only answered the phone because he believed a student was calling, and hung up as TPM began to ask whether Clark was still employed at the organization.

Mark Chenoweth, NCLA’s executive director and general counsel, did not return requests for comment left at phone numbers listed for his work and home.

NCLA, which Hamburger founded, hired Clark in July 2021 after he departed from his Senate-confirmed position as head of the DOJ’s environment and natural resources division.

At that point, the former DOJ official’s attempts to block the peaceful transfer of power were known, but had not attracted the level of public or congressional scrutiny that they have over the past week.

Much of that was sparked by the Senate Judiciary Committee report, which documented how close Clark came to becoming acting attorney general and sending a letter that would have called on swing states to reject Biden electors and hold special legislative sessions to appoint Trump ones. Clark declined to speak with the Senate panel.

Senate Democrats recommended that the House Jan. 6 Committee further investigate the matter. The House panel issued a subpoena to Clark on Wednesday for documents and testimony.

The House subpoena for Clark says that he “risked involving the Department of Justice in actions that lacked evidentiary foundation and threatened to subvert the rule of law,” and cites “credible evidence” from the Senate report that Clark tried to use the DOJ to “interrupt the peaceful transfer of power.” He has been given an Oct. 29 date to appear before the Committee and provide documents.

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