Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas Former Trump Officials Including Mark Meadows, Steve Bannon
Updated September 24, 2021 at 10:28 PM ET
The Democratic-led House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has issued subpoenas to four former Trump administration officials, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and strategist Steve Bannon.
Subpoenas were also issued Thursday evening to Dan Scavino, a former Trump White House deputy chief of staff for communications, and Kashyap Patel, who was chief of staff to then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller.
The subpoenas — the first the panel has issued — compel the four to produce sought-after documents relevant to the deadly attack by Oct. 7 and then sit for a deposition the following week, either on Oct. 14 or 15.
Congressional subpoenas cannot be dismissed outright, but their issuance could lead to extended legal battles if the four former Trump officials decide to fight the effort.
The panel said the four have knowledge of important details related to the siege.
"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," the committee's chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement.
In individually addressed letters, Thompson details further why the recipients are believed to have key information for the panel.
Thompson tells Meadows, for instance: "You were the President's Chief of Staff and have critical information regarding many elements of our inquiry. It appears you were with or in the vicinity of President Trump on January 6, had communications with the President and others on January 6 regarding events at the Capitol, and are a witness regarding activities of that day."
The letter says Meadows also engaged in multiple attempts to contest the presidential election that Trump lost. It says that according to documents obtained from the Justice Department, Meadows was in direct communications with top officials at the agency to probe election fraud in several states weeks after the election. It also says the panel understands that Meadows was directly in contact with state officials to urge such probes as well.
In his letter to Bannon, Thompson raises details regarding the strategist's conversations with Trump in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6 and a meeting with Trump allies the night before at the Willard Hotel, which is about a block from the White House.
Thompson says in additional letters that the panel is seeking information from Patel regarding his knowledge of security preparations ahead of the attack and from Scavino about his efforts to amplify the Jan. 6 event with Trump.
Republicans have painted the committee, which is mostly made up of Democrats, as nothing more than a partisan exercise.
In a statement, Trump called the panel the " 'Unselect Committee' of highly partisan politicians," adding, "We will fight the Subpoenas on Executive Privilege and other grounds, for the good of our Country, while we wait to find out whether or not Subpoenas will be sent out to Antifa and BLM for the death and destruction they have caused in tearing apart our Democrat-run cities throughout America."
Executive privilege is a right traditionally asserted by a White House to keep deliberations confidential.
The current White House indicated Friday that President Biden would not use executive privilege on requests from congressional investigators seeking information about Trump's activities on Jan. 6. But then later an official clarified that the Biden administration "will determine any future questions of executive privilege involving documents and testimony on a case-by-case basis."
The subpoena requests come about three weeks after the committee issued orders to 35 social media and communications companies to preserve records tied to Trump officials and Jan. 6. Before then, the panel asked eight federal agencies to turn over relevant documents while also seeking details on disinformation spread ahead of Jan. 6 from 15 social media companies.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.