Trump, the elections and Jan. 6: What you might have missed this week

It was a busy week for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The panel issued new subpoenas, saw pushback from aides to former President Trump, who are not cooperating with the committee, and was referred a new line of inquiry by a Senate panel.

Here’s what you need to know.

Trump and some aides aren’t eager to cooperate

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon decided to buck a subpoena from the House committee, pointing to a yet-to-be-filed suit from Trump claiming the panel’s interest in documents and testimony run afoul of his executive privilege.

“We must accept his direction and honor his invocation of executive privilege. As such, until these issues are resolved, we are unable to respond to your request for documents and testimony,” Robert Costello, Bannon’s attorney, wrote in a letter to the committee.

Bannon’s refusal to cooperate follows a letter from Trump’s attorneys encouraging Bannon and three other aides not to comply with the committee’s subpoena.

It’s not clear Trump’s advice was entirely taken.

A statement from the committee describes former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Kashyap Patel, the chief of staff to then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, as “engaging with the Select Committee,” though it did not offer further details on their compliance.

But in a complication, the committee has reportedly been unable to locate Dan Scavino, Trump’s deputy chief of staff for communications, in order to serve him.

Executive privilege battle gears up

Bannon’s refusal to participate tees up a potential clash with the Justice Department, which could move to file criminal charges if he doesn’t appear for a deposition by the mid-October date spelled out in the letter.  

But some see Trump’s eventual lawsuit as a delay tactic.

A statement from the committee said it would not allow “any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral.”

And Trump is likely to wage a second legal battle against a Friday directive from the White House to the National Archives permitting the release of a massive trove of documents from his administration to the House committee.

President Biden waived his executive privilege rights to the documents in a move White House counsel Dana Remus argued was necessary given the “unique and extraordinary circumstances.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) late last month told reporters that Trump would be unlikely to prevail in any executive privilege lawsuits as it is largely Biden’s call about what to release now that the former president is out of office.

“Executive privilege applies to a sitting president, not former presidents, because the focus is on the national security interests of the country. It’s a very limited doctrinal privilege,” Raskin said.

“Even if the court were to weigh the public’s overwhelming interest in getting at the truth of events, versus the interest in national security, in this case both factors are on the side of disclosure.”

There’s an increasing focus on rally organizers

The committee released its third set of subpoenas this week, again going after leaders of the various rallies organized leading up to Jan. 6.

This week the main target was Ali Alexander, also known as Ali Abdul Akbar, a longtime Republican political operative and Stop the Steal organizer.

The subpoena details how Alexander’s organization One Nation Under God applied for a permit on the Capitol grounds for Jan. 6., later coordinating with those organizing the rally near the White House.

It also identifies Alexander as alluding “to the possible use of violence to achieve the organization’s goals” and says that he “claimed to have been in communication with the White House and members of Congress regarding events planned to coincide with the certification of the 2020 election results.”

The subpoena to Alexander follows another 11 issued to a suite of leaders from Women for America First who helped organize the Jan. 6 rally near the White House where Trump encouraged supporters to “fight much harder.”

Trump’s pressure campaign at DOJ linked to Jan. 6

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday released a report capping its eight-month investigation into Trump’s efforts to convince top leaders at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate voter fraud claims during the waning days of his administration.

But the report demonstrates the ties between those involved in pressuring DOJ and their connection to rally planning.

Much of that centers on Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), a vocal Trump supporter who also contacted DOJ officials at Trump’s behest, encouraging them to examine now-debunked election fraud claims.

“President Trump’s efforts to enlist DOJ and its leadership in his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election were aided by numerous allies with clear ties to the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement and the January 6 insurrection,” the report states, highlighting Perry as “particularly notable” ally.

Trump told DOJ officials “he and his congressional allies could effectively position themselves to overturn the presidential election results with cover from DOJ, asking DOJ to ‘just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the [Republican] Congressmen,’ ” according to the report.

The Senate lawmakers specifically ask the Jan. 6 committee to further investigate that line of inquiry.

“These ties warrant further investigation to better place Trump’s efforts to enlist DOJ in his efforts to overturn the presidential election in context with the Jan. 6 insurrection,” they wrote in the report.

That effort may already be underway. Former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue voluntarily sat down with the committee this week, Politico reported. 

Schiff shares his story about the day

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) one of the nine members serving on the Jan. 6 committee, released an excerpt of a coming book this week exploring the risks to American democracy.

While the excerpt opens with details of his escape from the House floor — “It’s not always like this,” he told a newly sworn-in lawmaker — much of it details the former impeachment manager’s nuanced relationship with GOP members.

“‘You can’t let them see you,’ a Republican member said to me. ‘He’s right,’ another Republican member said. ‘I know these people, I can talk to them, I can talk my way through them. You’re in a whole different category,’” GOP members told Schiff as they were preparing to leave the floor.

“In that moment, we were not merely members of different political parties, but on opposite sides of a much more dangerous divide. At first I was oddly touched by these GOP members and their evident concern. But by then, I had been receiving death threats for years, and that feeling soon gave way to another: If these Republican members hadn’t joined the president in falsely attacking me for four years, I wouldn’t need to be worried about my security, none of us would. I kept that thought to myself,” Schiff wrote.

He goes on to say that many Republican colleagues privately confided in him that they supported his efforts reviewing Trump’s actions.

“For the past three years, Republicans had confided, to me and to many of my Democratic colleagues, their serious misgivings about the president. Some would go on Fox News and bash me, only to urge me privately to keep on with the investigation. And it became clear that many Republicans felt someone needed to do it, someone needed to put a stop to it all, even if they couldn’t, or wouldn’t,” he wrote.

“And the question wasn’t so much ‘Why should he be removed?’ as ‘Why should I be the one to remove him? Why should I risk my seat, my position of power and influence, my career and future? Why should I?’ ” he added.

Schiff said the struggle to answer that question during the Senate impeachment trial is one that still follows him.

“In the year and a half since, I have thought a lot about what I might have said differently to persuade the senators of what a danger the now former president posed then, and poses still.”


Tags Adam Schiff Capitol riot Dana Remus Donald Trump Jamie Raskin Jan. 6 panel Joe Biden Mark Meadows Scott Perry Steve Bannon
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