(Associated Press) A House committee investigating the Jan. 6 protests at the U.S. Capitol has issued its first subpoenas, demanding records and testimony from four of former President Donald Trump’s close advisers and associates who were in contact with him before and during the event.
In a significant escalation for the panel, Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., announced the subpoenas of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino, former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. The four men are among Trump’s most loyal aides.
Thompson wrote to the four that the committee is investigating “the facts, circumstances, and causes” of the breaching of the Capitol and asked them to produce documents and appear at depositions in mid-October.
The panel, formed over the summer, is now launching the interview phase of its investigation after sorting through thousands of pages of documents it had requested in August from federal agencies and social media companies. The committee has also requested a trove of records from the White House.
Thompson says in letters to each of the witnesses that investigators believe they have relevant information about the lead-up to the insurrection. In the case of Bannon, for instance, Democrats cite his Jan. 5 prediction that “(a)ll hell is going to break loose tomorrow” and his communications with Trump one week before the riot in which he urged the president to focus his attention on Jan. 6.
In the letter to Meadows, a former GOP member of the House, Thompson cites his efforts to overturn Trump’s defeat in the weeks prior to the insurrection and his pressure on state officials to push the former president’s false claims of widespread voter fraud.
“You were the president’s chief of staff and have critical information regarding many elements of our inquiry,” Thompson wrote. “It appears you were with or in the vicinity of President Trump on January 6, had communication with the president and others on January 6 regarding events at the Capitol and are a witness regarding the activities of the day.”
It is unclear how the witnesses will respond, or whether they will try and resist the demands as many of them did under the Trump administration. Complicating matters is that Trump is no longer in office and cannot directly assert privilege to keep witnesses quiet or documents out of Congress’s hands. As the current president, Biden will have some say in turning over materials.
The committee set a deadline of Oct. 7 for documents and scheduled interviews for Oct. 14 and 15.
Thompson wrote Meadows that the panel has “credible evidence” of his’ involvement in events within the scope of the committee’s investigation. That also includes involvement in the “planning and preparation of efforts to contest the presidential election and delay the counting of electoral votes.”