Jan. 6 panel subpoenas four ex-Trump aides Bannon, Meadows
The special committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on Thursday sent subpoenas to four former advisers to former President Trump, including chief of staff Mark Meadows and strategist Steve Bannon.
The letters were also sent to Dan Scavino, Trump’s deputy chief of staff for communications, and Kashyap Patel, the chief of staff to then-acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller and a former House and White House staffer.
All four have all been asked to appear for a deposition in mid-October.
The committee letters suggest that the four top Trump aides were involved in the effort to overturn the 2020 election and activities related to Jan. 6.
“You have been identified as present at the Willard Hotel on Jan. 5, 2021 during an effort to persuade members of Congress to block the certification of the Election the next day, and in relation to other activities on Jan. 6,” the committee wrote in the letter to Bannon.
“You are also described as communicating with then-President Trump on Dec. 30, 2020, and potentially other occasions, urging him to plan for and focus his efforts on Jan. 6. Moreover you are quoted as saying, on Jan. 5, 2021, that ‘[a]ll hell is going to break loose tomorrow.’”
The series of subpoenas is the most aggressive move yet from a committee that previously sent a series of requests to government agencies seeking Trump-era records and requested a number of documents from major telecommunications and tech companies. The letters also reference subpoenas for a number of documents, but does not disclose what is being requested.
The Jan. 6 panel also held its first hearing in late July featuring four police officers who gave emotional testimony about how they were violently attacked by Trump supporters while defending the Capitol that day. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the head of the Jan. 6 panel, has promised more hearings but said his committee first needed to gather evidence.
The letters also show a committee interest in what Trump was doing on Jan. 6 — both leading up to the rally where he told his loyalists to “fight like hell” and march on the Capitol, and in the hours after the attack when the National Guard was significantly delayed in assisting police secure the complex.
The requests show the committee is already capitalizing on a trove of documents it requested in August, with the committee writing that Meadows was involved a campaign to get Justice Department and state election officials to kick off investigations into election fraud in key states for Trump “even after such allegations had been dismissed by state and federal courts.”
“According to documents provided by the Department of Justice, while you were the President’s Chief of Staff you directly communicated with the highest officials at the Department of Justice requesting investigation into election fraud matters in several states,” the committee wrote.
“It has been reported that you were engaged in multiple elements of the planning and preparation efforts to contest the presidential election and delay the counting of electoral votes.”
Meadows, through a spokesman, declined to comment.
In a lengthy rambling statement, Trump slammed the subpoenas from what he mocked as the “Unselect Committee” and, once again, repeated the lie that the presidential election was stolen.
“Hopefully the Unselect Committee will be calling witnesses on the Rigged Presidential Election of 2020, which is the primary reason that hundreds of thousands of people went to Washington, D.C. in the first place,” he wrote.
For Scavino, the committee points to a number of tweets from Trump’s former communications lead, including those referring to the rally, while asking him to turn over any video recordings of Trump’s message to supporters on Jan. 6 telling them to “go home” and adding, “We love you. You’re very special.”
“Your public twitter account makes clear that you were tweeting messages from the White House on Jan. 6, 2021. And prior to Jan. 6, 2021, you promoted, through your twitter messaging, the Jan. 6 March for Trump, which encouraged people to ‘be a part of history,” the letter states.
“It also appears that you were with or in the vicinity of President Trump on Jan. 6 and are a witness regarding his activity that day,” they wrote, noting Scavino’s decade of work alongside Trump, suggesting “knowledge concerning communications involving the 2020 election” and the subsequent rallies.
Patel, a former counterterrorism director at the National Security Council, was appointed to his role at the Department of Defense (DOD) the day after then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was replaced.
The committee writes that documents show Patel may have information on the DOD’s response to the attack, including the delay in the National Guard’s arrival on the scene as well as information “related to your personal involvement in the planning for the events of Jan. 6 and the peaceful transfer of power.”
Earlier Thursday, a key member of the Jan. 6 panel, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), warned that those who refuse to cooperate in the probe could face charges of criminal contempt.
“Certainly there will be some who will not be cooperating with us,” Schiff said, “and I’m not referring to the current administration, but members of the past administration. We have to anticipate that.”
Thompson referenced the committee’s authority when announcing the inquiry, including its subpoena power.
“The Select Committee is investigating the facts, circumstances, and causes of the January 6th attack and issues relating to the peaceful transfer of power, in order to identify and evaluate lessons learned and to recommend to the House and its relevant committees corrective laws, policies, procedures, rules, or regulations,” he said in a statement accompanying the subpoenas.
Updated at 9:12 p.m.