By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 2, 2022 ~
Ken Klukowski is making a lot of people in the Charles Koch network of political operatives very nervous. According to a CNN report last Thursday, Klukowski “is cooperating in the DOJ’s January 6 criminal investigation, after investigators searched and copied his electronic records several weeks ago.” Those electronic records could open a lot of secrets that the Charles Koch network has kept behind a dark curtain for far too long.
Klukowski arrived at the U.S. Department of Justice just 35 days before Trump’s term ended. According to the January 6 House Select Committee, Klukowski was “parachuted” into the Justice Department to help an environmental attorney there, Jeffrey Clark, prepare a letter to state officials which falsely claimed that the Justice Department had “identified significant concerns” about the vote totals in those states and the states should consider sending “a separate slate of electors supporting Donald J. Trump.”
This is how Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, Co-Chair of the January 6 House Select Committee, described Klukowski’s involvement at the Committee’s June 23 hearing:
“Today, as Chairman Thompson indicated, we turn to yet another element of the President’s effort to overturn the 2020 election, this one involving the Department of Justice. A key focus of our hearing today will be a draft letter that our witnesses here today refused to sign.
“This letter was written by Mr. Jeff Clark with another Department of Justice lawyer Ken Klukowski, and the letter was to be sent to the leadership of the Georgia State legislature. Other versions of the letter were intended for other states.
“Neither Mr. Clark nor Mr. Klukowski had any evidence of widespread election fraud. But they were quite aware of what Mr. Trump wanted the Department to do – Jeff Clark met privately with President Trump and others in the White House, and agreed to assist the President – without telling the senior leadership of the Department who oversaw him.
“As you will see, this letter claims that the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigations have ‘identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia.’ In fact, Donald Trump knew this was a lie.
“The Department of Justice had already informed the President of the United States repeatedly that its investigations had found no fraud sufficient to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“The letter also said this: ‘In light of these developments, the Department recommends that the Georgia General Assembly should convene in special session’ and consider approving a new slate of electors. And it indicates that a separate ‘fake slate of electors supporting Donald Trump’ has already been ‘transmitted to Washington, D.C.’ ”
An outgrowth of the Clark-Klukowski letter was a meeting in the Oval Office on January 3, 2021 – just three days before the attack on the Capitol. According to Cheney at the June 23 Committee’s hearing, “Donald Trump offered Mr. Clark the job of Acting Attorney General, replacing Mr. Rosen, with the understanding that Clark would send this letter to Georgia and other states, and take other actions the President requested.” After Trump was advised by acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen and others that top officials at the Justice Department would resign, Trump dropped the plan.
Klukowski had been a writer at the right-wing outlet, Breitbart, which was formerly led by Trump White House advisor, Steve Bannon – who is now facing sentencing in October after being found guilty by a jury of defying a subpoena from the January 6 Committee to testify. Klukowski did not arrive in the Trump administration until August of 2019.
Klukowski was “parachuted” into the Justice Department from the Office of Management and Budget, where he was working under the General Counsel, Mark Paoletta. Today, both Paoletta and Klukowski are employed at the law firm, Schaerr Jaffe LLP. (Gene Schaerr is a registered lobbyist as is his law partner, Erik Jaffe.)
Paoletta is now serving as legal counsel for Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The testimony of Ginni Thomas is being sought by the January 6 Committee with a threat to subpoena her if necessary. Emails between Ginni Thomas and White House officials have turned up, showing that she was actively pushing for the White House to fight Biden’s election win. Both Clarence Thomas and Ginni Thomas have a long, problematic history with the Koch network.
In January 2008, sitting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had been treated to a four-day luxury trip to the Palm Springs area of California to attend the semi-annual gathering of big money campaign donors hosted by Charles Koch and his brother, David. (David Koch died in 2019.) According to the 2008 financial disclosure form filed by Justice Thomas, his expenses for that trip were paid by the Federalist Society, a conservative nonprofit to which Koch foundations had donated millions of dollars.
Charles Koch has been co-owner, Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, a privately-owned fossil fuels conglomerate, for the past 55 years. Forbes puts Charles Koch’s net worth at $56.6 billion. Justice Thomas’ trip to the Koch event occurred in the same year that the Citizens United case was accepted by the Supreme Court. That was the Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to corporate funding of political campaigns in America.
In 2011, Wall Street On Parade broke the news that during Justice Thomas’ trip to speak at the Koch event in January 2008, he was hosted for dinner by Charles Koch and his wife, Elizabeth, at their private club, the Vintage Club in Indian Wells, California.
While the Citizens United case was pending before the Supreme Court, Ginni Thomas created a tax exempt, Tea Party advocacy group, Liberty Central, Inc., with a former lawyer for the Charles G. Koch Foundation acting as her General Counsel in 2010 (Sarah Field) and a former Koch lobbyist serving on her board at inception (Matt Schlapp).
Ginni Thomas ran Liberty Central out of a post office box in a UPS building in Virginia. According to IRS tax filings, Liberty Central, Inc. received $550,000 from anonymous donors in 2009 and was anticipating the receipt of $2,014,000 in 2010.
The Citizens United case before her husband at the Supreme Court was decided on January 21, 2010. Eight days later, Cleta Mitchell, then a partner with the law firm Foley & Lardner, filed the application on behalf of Ginni Thomas’ nonprofit group, Liberty Central, Inc. with the IRS. But Mitchell was not an impartial attorney; she had filed an Amicus brief in the Citizens United Case.
Today, Cleta Mitchell is mired in the January 6 controversy and has resigned her longstanding position with the Foley & Lardner law firm. The controversy stems from the fact that Mitchell was on the phone call with Donald Trump, acting as his attorney, on January 2, 2021 when Trump urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” – the number of votes Trump needed to make him the winner of the state in the 2020 election.