Unsealed orders show DOJ investigators prioritized Scott Perry-linked email

Zoe Tillman
Bloomberg News (TNS)

WASHINGTON — A pair of newly unsealed court orders show how a federal investigation into activity following the 2020 presidential election touched prominent conservative lawyers connected to former President Donald Trump.

The redacted orders show that a Justice Department filter team earlier this year identified emails and documents gathered from attorneys Jeffrey Clark, John Eastman, and Ken Klukowski that the government believed were not covered by any legal privileges.

U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell in Washington granted the filter team’s request to give the primary investigation team messages involving Clark, Eastman, and Klukowski and an email account associated with Republican Rep. Scott Perry in the months leading up to the November 2020 election and immediately after.

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Howell also overruled Clark’s objection to investigators seeing hundreds of auto-saved versions of an autobiography outline that described key moments in the postelection period. Clark had been a top official in the Justice Department under Trump. Trump’s plan to make Clark acting attorney general nearly inspired a near mass resignation, according to congressional testimony earlier this year.

Howell wrote that Clark’s arguments for why the outline drafts should be covered by various privileges “can best be described as throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.”

The orders unsealed by the judge on Friday are partially redacted. The documents themselves weren’t made public. A description of the underlying investigation is blacked out – though details about the documents at issue confirm a connection to the 2020 election – as is the location of the U.S. attorney’s office involved in reviewing the seized materials before they were turned over to the primary team.

The first opinion, dated June 27, shows that Howell cleared the release of 37 documents pulled from approximately 130,000 recovered through search warrants.

A footnote shows the filter team prioritized screening messages involving the Perry-linked email at the primary team’s request. The emails included references to phone calls, attachments referring to the role of state legislatures in presidential elections, news clips, an excerpt of an essay by the late Czech President Vaclav Havel, and messages that the filter team described as being about an interview with Republican political operative Roger Stone. There were also emails from Clark to Perry that included versions of his resume.

The second opinion, dated Sept. 27, involves what the court described as 331 versions of an autobiography outline saved to Clark’s Google account. Howell wrote that the outline traced Clark’s early life through his time at the Justice Department.

Howell appeared to quote excerpts. In noting that part of Clark’s planned book would be about the 2020 election results, she included in parentheses, “(d)on’t believe it but I’ve got a day job” — an apparent reference that Clark didn’t accept the election results were legitimate.

Redacted orders show that a Justice Department filter team earlier this year identified emails and documents gathered from attorneys Jeffrey Clark, John Eastman, above, and Ken Klukowski that the government believed were not covered by any legal privileges. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

Another part of the outline referred to his role in drafting a “letter to Georgia legislature” that was never sent and Trump’s reaction (“good letter.”)

Howell found that Clark failed to show the outline was prepared for potential future litigation or to guide anyone serving as his attorney.

“(W)ork-product buzzwords cannot be reasonably applied to the outline before this court,” Howell wrote.

Rachel Semmel, a spokesperson for the Center for Renewing America, where Clark is director of litigation, sent a statement denouncing the government’s request to unseal the orders.

“Just to show how desperate they are, the Friday before Christmas when nobody is paying attention, they ‘uncover’ an essay on how the communists are taking over — a foreshadowing of what the Justice Department and the J6 committee are doing now, and articles on how Biden’s global warming plan is going to destroy the economy — it’s hard to take these guys seriously,” Semmel wrote.

According to Howell’s order, the biography outline’s conclusion included a promise to “resist communism.”

One of Eastman’s attorneys, Charles Burnham, said in an email that the lawyers had written a letter “protesting what’s been done” to Special Counsel Jack Smith, who recently took over the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 investigation, and copied Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Klukowski served in the the Justice Department and White House under Trump. He and lawyers for Perry didn’t return a request for comment.