The congressional committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas Thursday to some of former President Donald Trump’s closest advisers.
The committee subpoenaed and set a date for sworn depositions for former White House strategist Steve Bannon, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former social media director Dan Scavino and Kashyap Patel, who was chief of staff to Trump’s defense secretary.
Trump said in a statement that he would fight the subpoenas by invoking executive privilege. His opposition is likely to set up a legal battle that will ask the courts to determine to what extent former presidents can invoke privilege after they leave office.
President Joe Biden has indicated that he is willing to comply with legislative demands. A statement from the White House on Thursday called the attacks “a dark stain on our country’s history.”
“The President is deeply committed to ensuring that something like that can never happen again and he supports a thorough investigation into what occurred,” White House spokesman Michael Gwin said in the statement. “That’s why his Administration has been engaging with Congress on matters relating to January 6 for several months now and will continue to do so, including with the Select Committee.”
The new demands Thursday include that the former Trump aides and allies give their sworn depositions to the committee on Oct. 14 and 15, according to letters released by the panel. It is also asking for documents to be submitted by Oct. 7 related to communications involving Trump on Jan. 6 and the days before the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
A representative for Meadows declined to comment. Representatives for the three other men did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The committee signaled last week that it would start issuing subpoenas, and it met in person this week for the first time since the August recess for more than five hours behind closed doors. After the meeting, a member, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said the committee was moving into an “aggressive phase.”
The committee said in the letters that Meadows and Scavino have significant information about Trump’s actions on Jan. 6. Patel, the panel said, has information about the security planning among Defense Department officials and the agency’s coordination with the White House. The panel said that Bannon, who left the White House in 2017, was in Washington on Jan. 5 allegedly trying to persuade unnamed lawmakers to block the certification of the presidential election and that he was in communication with Trump through the election.
The panel said reporting indicated that Scavino was with Trump on Jan. 5 during a discussion about how to persuade lawmakers not to certify the election for Biden. On the day of the attack, Scavino also promoted the Trump rally on Twitter, encouraging attendees to “be a part of history.” Meadows, the panel said, was reported to have communicated with officials at the state level and in the Justice Department “as part of an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election or prevent the election’s certification.”
The panel also received documents from all seven government agencies from which it has requested information, a committee aide said Monday.
The requested documents include a vast trove of records pertaining to the Trump administration’s plans to discredit the election and dismiss the Electoral College count on Jan. 6. The committee requested documents from the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Interior and Justice, as well as the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The House formed the panel in late June with virtually no Republican support. Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who was ousted as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference after she spoke out against Trump, were the only Republicans to vote in favor of the committee. Both have been added to the panel.
Dartunorro Clark covers politics, including the Covid-19 recovery, for NBC News.
Leigh Ann Caldwell