Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 6 more Trump associates in probe

York Dispatch
President Donald Trump greets the crowd at the "Stop The Steal" Rally on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/TNS)

Expanding its probe, the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has issued subpoenas to six more associates of former President Donald Trump who were involved in his efforts to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election.

The House voted last month to hold longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt after he refused to comply with his subpoena from the panel investigating the origins of the violent attack. Trump himself is fighting the probe in court.

The committee's chairman, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, said in a statement Monday that the panel is demanding testimony and documents from former Trump campaign officials and others who participated in a “war room” ahead of the siege and otherwise strategized about how to halt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

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Thompson said the committee had issued new subpoenas to Bill Stepien, manager of Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign; Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the campaign; Angela McCallum, national executive assistant to the campaign; John Eastman, a lawyer who advised the former president; Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser to Trump who talked with Trump ahead of the insurrection, and Bernard Kerik, who the committee says paid for hotel rooms that served as command centers ahead of Jan. 6.

“In the days before the January 6th attack, the former president’s closest allies and advisers drove a campaign of misinformation about the election and planned ways to stop the count of Electoral College votes," Thompson said. "The Select Committee needs to know every detail about their efforts to overturn the election, including who they were talking to in the White House and in Congress, what connections they had with rallies that escalated into a riot, and who paid for it all."

The rioters who violently pushed back police to break into the Capitol and interrupt the electoral count repeated Trump's false claims of widespread fraud, and the committee says the six people subpoenaed helped amplify the misinformation in the days ahead of the attack. Trump's claims came as election officials and courts across the country verified Biden's win, and as his own attorney general said there was no evidence of significant fraud.

The panel is working with other close Trump advisers to gain testimony, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and administration aides Kashyap Patel and Dan Scavino. Bannon refused to comply with his subpoena.

The committee has interviewed more than 150 people across government, social media and law enforcement, including some former Trump aides who have been cooperative.

Trump's own opposition has prompted some of his advisors, including Bannon, to say they can't speak publicly about their roles. The former president is claiming he can assert executive privilege in a lawsuit aiming to block the government from releasing a tranche of internal White House documents, including call logs, drafts of remarks, speeches and handwritten staff notes from before and during the insurrection.

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President Biden has so far waived executive privilege on nearly all the documents that the committee has asked for, citing the panel’s need to investigate the violent attack.

In his subpoena to Eastman, Thompson sought to preemptively attack any attorney-client privilege that Eastman may look to cite to avoid testifying. The letter noted that Eastman has already “made extensive public comments regarding your legal advice, including your direct discussions with President Trump.”

Former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who aligned himself with Trump’s efforts to overturn the election as others in the department pushed back, appeared for a deposition on Friday but declined to cooperate, presenting the committee with a letter saying he would not answer questions based on Trump’s assertions of privilege, including in the ongoing court case, according to a person familiar with the closed-door meeting who was granted anonymity to discuss it.

Thompson said afterward that he had rejected the claims of privilege and said Clark “has a very short time” to reconsider and cooperate.