Bennie Thompson not ruling out subpoenaing Trump

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, did not rule out subpoenaing former President Trump when asked about the possibility during an interview on Thursday.

“Are you ruling out or ruling in the possibility of eventually subpoenaing Trump?” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Thompson.

“Well, I would say this at this point, Wolf, nobody is off limits to a subpoena from this committee,” Thompson responded.

He added that “a lot of what we decide” on Trump will depend on how much information the Biden White House provides to the committee, despite Trump’s claims of executive privilege.

The White House on Wednesday formally rejected an attempt by Trump to exert executive privilege over a set of documents the panel had requested.

“I appreciate the White House agreement to look at executive privilege and give us consideration on a lot of the information we want. A lot of what we decide on former President Trump is dependent on what we find in this information,” Thompson told Blitzer.

“I believe the Biden information and deliberate efforts to make sure that we have access to certain information is crucial to what we do,” he added.

The chairman sounded a similar note in July when asked about potential subpoenas for Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials, telling PBS NewsHour, “If the facts themselves lead us to any individual, we will not hesitate to bring them before the committee.”

While there is no guarantee that the committee will ultimately subpoena Trump, the former president is already gearing up for a legal fight if the panel requests documents and his testimony.

Trump in a statement last month vowed to “fight the Subpoenas on Executive Privilege and other grounds,” contending that such a move would be “for the good of the country.”

Legal experts, however, are at odds over whether the former president’s claim of executive privilege would hold up in court.

Thompson’s comment came hours after the committee announced that it plans to refer ex-Trump White House strategist Stephen Bannon for criminal prosecution after he failed to comply with a subpoena by the deadline.

Bannon is refusing to provide requested documents and testimony, citing a yet-to-be filed lawsuit from Trump, who claims the materials in the subpoena are protected by executive privilege.

Reports surfaced last week that Trump was advising four of his former aides, including Bannon, to defy the subpoenas they received from the panel.

The select committee will write up a report detailing the efforts the panel took to get Bannon to comply with the subpoena, and his failure to do so. It will then go before the House for a vote.

If approved, the Justice Department will then be tasked with stepping in and deciding how aggressively it wants to pursue Bannon. That decision will likely be determined by the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., and top lawyers at the main Justice Department.

Thompson on Thursday rejected Bannon’s claim that his testimony is protected by executive privilege.

“You can’t say that Steve Bannon should hide behind executive privilege when he wasn’t even the government. Just because former President Trump says it, it’s not the law,” he told Blitzer.

Bannon was not serving in the administration on Jan. 6.

In addition to Bannon, the select committee has also sent subpoenas to Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff for communications Dan Scavino and Kashyap Patel, the former chief of staff to then-acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.

Meadows and Patel have so far been “engaging” with the committee, Thompson and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) revealed in a statement last week.

Meadows, Patel and Scavino have all been granted short postponements by the committee for their depositions, which were scheduled for this week, according to CNN.

Most recently, the committee requested records and testimony from Jeffrey Clark, a Trump ally and former employee at the Department of Justice who encouraged its leaders to investigate Trump’s claims of election fraud.

In a letter to Clark, Thompson wrote that the panel’s investigation “has revealed credible evidence that you attempted to involve the Department of Justice in efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power.”

“You proposed that the department send a letter to state legislators in Georgia and other states suggesting that they delay certification of their election results and hold a press conference announcing that the Department was investigating allegations of voter fraud,” the letter added.

Updated at 7:36 p.m.

Tags Bennie Thompson Donald Trump Liz Cheney Mark Meadows Mike Pence Steve Bannon

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video