Former President Donald Trump has instructed his former aides not to comply with the subpoena of the special congressional committee investigating the Capitol riots, prompting the panel to issue criminal referrals to some of its close advisers as soon as Friday. Grow up
In a letter reviewed by The New York Times, Trump’s lawyer said that witnesses do not provide testimony or documents related to their “official” duties and instead to enforce any immunity they have “by law.” to the fullest extent permitted”.
The House committee has ordered four former Trump administration officials – Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff; Dan Scavino, Deputy Chief of Staff; Steve Bannon, a consultant; and Kash Patel, a Pentagon chief of staff — to sit down to submit and present documents and other materials relevant to his investigation. They all faced a Thursday deadline to respond.
Representative Benny Thompson, D-Miss., chair of the selection committee, has threatened criminal referrals for witnesses who do not comply with subpoenas, and said that the committee requires witnesses to “fully cooperate with our investigation.” have hope.”
The move was the equivalent of Trump’s declaration of war on the investigation and raised legal questions about how far the committee would be able to glean compelling information from a former president and his advisers.
The committee is demanding that Meadows and Patel present for questioning the following Thursday, and that Bannon and Scavino the next day.
It is unclear whether President Joe Biden’s team will extend the executive privilege — which protects communications and deliberations of a current president from disclosure — to a former president.
The Justice Department and the White House have already waived the executive privilege of the previous batch of witnesses who were asked to testify before the Senate Judiciary and House Oversight Committees investigating the January 6 attack and Trump was investigating the administration’s efforts to spoof the results. presidential election. The Justice Department argued that the presidency was granted to protect the institution of the presidency, not to confer immunity for wrongdoing.
Taylor Budovich, a spokeswoman for Trump, said the record request by the select committee was “outrageously broad” and lacked “both legal precedent and legislative merit.”
“Executive privilege will be defended not only on behalf of President Trump and his administration, but also on behalf of the office of the President of the United States and the future of our nation,” he said.
Trump’s instructions were first reported by The Guardian.
The deadline to comply with the selection committee’s first batch of subpoenas came as it issued three more on Thursday, targeting organizers of the “Stop the Steel” rally that brought together many of Trump’s supporters, which turned violent at the Capitol. literally went into the storm.
The latest summons seeks testimony from Ali Abdul Akbar, also known as Ali Alexander, and Nathan Martin, both of whom were involved in organizing protests across the country – including in Washington on January 6 – against Trump. Based on the lie that he was rightfully the winner of the 2020 election and that it had been manipulated by fraud. The committee also issued a summons to Stop the Steel LLC, an organization affiliated with the event.
“Like the rally near the White House that day, the January 6 rally at the Capitol grounds took place just before the violent attack on the seat of our democracy,” Thompson said. “During that day, the demonstrations turned into violence and the protesters became rioters.”
In the weeks before the attack, Alexander, a far-right activist and conspiracy theorist, made repeated references during the “Stop the Steel” events to the possible use of violence to achieve the organization’s goals, and he claimed did that they were in communication that the White House and members of Congress planned to undermine the certification of the 2020 Electoral College results, the committee said.
Alexander has claimed that he, along with Reps Mo Brooks of Alabama, Paul Goser of Arizona and Andy Biggs of Arizona, all Republicans, set in motion the events of January 6.
In a deleted video posted online, Alexander said, “The four of us planned to put maximum pressure on Congress during the voting, so that we could change the hearts and minds of Republicans for those we can’t lobby for.” In that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.”
Additionally, Alexander spoke at a rally organized by the Eighty Percent Coalition at Freedom Plaza in Washington on January 5 and led the crowd in slogans of “victory or death”, the committee said.
The committee has issued 18 subpoenas, many focusing on funding, planning and organization of the rally, which turned into a violent stampede at the Capitol, where Congress is meeting to formalize Biden’s election victory. Was. Participants chanted “Hang Mike Pence”, threatened to shoot Speaker Nancy Pelosi and forced lawmakers to vacate the building. Around 140 police officers were injured and many people died in connection with the riots.
In view of the conflicting information received by the investigators, the committee said that it is trying to get to the bottom of the January 6 event.
An organization called One Nation Under God submitted a permit application to US Capitol Police in December for a rally on January 6 about “election fraud in the swing states”, listing Martin’s phone number and email address among contact information. Was.
But when a Capitol police officer spoke with Martin in late December, Martin claimed no knowledge of the rally and directed the officer to speak to a salesperson, the committee said. According to the police officer, the seller was “shocked” to learn this, as he was in “daily communication” with Martin about the incident, the committee said.
After the January 6 attack, Alexander issued a statement acknowledging that Stop the Steel had “obtained a rally permit for our ‘One Nation Under God’ program,” the committee said. He said it was intended to prevent theft, directing rally attendees to march to Lot 8 on the US Capitol Ground, which is the location for which Capitol Police granted permission for a “One Nation Under God” rally. was given. Permit applications estimated there would be only 50 attendees at the event, not the hundreds who marched on the Capitol.
The summons requires Alexander and Martin to present documents by October 21 and testify on the deposition the following week.
The committee’s latest action came after the Senate Judiciary Committee released a lengthy interim report about Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to do its bidding in the chaotic final weeks of his presidency. Thompson said he planned to incorporate the Senate’s findings into the House investigation.