The House Select Committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 has issued a slew of new subpoenas to prominent Trump World figures — including Michael Flynn, John Eastman, Jason Miller, and more — in a significant acceleration in its inquiry into the causes of the Capitol attack.
“In the days before the January 6th attack, the former President’s closest allies and advisors drove a campaign of misinformation about the election and planned ways to stop the count of Electoral College votes,” Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement. The Select Committee needs to know every detail about their efforts to overturn the election, including who they were talking to in the White House and in Congress, what connections they had with rallies that escalated into a riot, and who paid for it all.”
In addition to Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who has become one of nation’s most prominent conspiracy theorists; Eastman, the former Trump lawyer who drafted a memo instructing former Vice President Mike Pence how to overturn the election results on Jan. 6; and Miller, a Trump campaign adviser, the committee is also calling for documents and testimony from Bill Stepien, who managed Trump’s 2020 campaign, Angela McCallum, a Trump campaign assistant, and Bernie Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner whom Trump pardoned.
The committee is calling for all six of the figures issued subpoenas to produce documents by Nov. 23, and to testify before the committee in depositions that will take place at the end of November and into December.
Here’s what we know about why the committee is targeting these six figures:
Michael Flynn: Flynn’s subpoena refers to an Oval Office meeting Flynn “reportedly attended” on December 18, 2020. At the meeting in question, participants apparently “discussed seizing voting machines, declaring a national emergency, invoking certain national security emergency powers,” as well as the best ways to continue messaging that the 2020 election was marred by widespread fraud. Why would the committee think Flynn would have anything to do with a conversation like that? Perhaps because the day before, the former Trump White House national security adviser appeared on Newsmax, where he detailed the potential options available to Donald Trump, including the seizure of voting machines and use of “military capabilities” in order to “rerun” the election in certain states. “People out there talk about martial law like it’s something that we’ve never done. Martial law has been instituted 64 times,” Flynn said.
None of that, of course, was particularly surprising either, given Flynn’s well-documented history of anti-Democratic inclinations, his chummy private conversation with a Russian ambassador, his involvement in a plot to kidnap and smuggle a Turkish dissident to an island prison for $15 million, or his suggestion (he’s since claimed to have been misquoted) at a QAnon convention that the United States should have its own Myanmar-style military coup. (That coup has claimed at least 1,000 lives so far.)
John Eastman: Eastman’s role in the attack has been brought into question recently after it was revealed in a new book from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa that he drafted a memo instructing Pence how to subvert the Constitution and block the certification of the 2020 election results on Jan. 6. The committee notes that Eastman, a former Trump lawyer, also told legislators that it was their “duty” to “make sure that we’re not putting in the White House some guy that didn’t get elected,” and that he participated in a Jan. 5 meeting at the Willard Hotel in which Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon, and others plotted how to overturn the election results. Eastman also delivered a speech at the rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6.
Jason Miller: Miller was a longtime — in Trump World terms, anyway — adviser to and spokesperson for Trump who worked on the 2020 campaign. Miller repeatedly pushed the idea that the election was stolen, helped coordinate post-election press events broadcasting the idea that it was rigged, and reportedly participated in the Jan. 5 meeting at the Willard Hotel in which Bannon, Giuliani, and others discussed how to overturn the results and prevent Biden from taking office.
Bill Stepien: Stepien was Trump’s campaign manager in 2020, a role that would typically consist entirely of helping your candidate attempt to win the election. But after failing utterly in that task, Stepien took things a step further, urging state and party officials to delay the certification of Biden’s win, an attempt to create chaos and sow doubt about the outcome. The team’s endgame was to get state lawmakers to send an alternative slate of electoral votes to Congress, allowing Trump’s GOP allies there to override the will of their voters during a certification process on… Jan. 6.
Angela McCallum: The subpoena sent by the select committee identifies McCallum as “national executive assistant” on Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. The subpoena says the committee’s ongoing investigation and public news reports “have revealed credible evidence that you are aware of, and participated in, efforts to spread false information about alleged voter fraud in the November 2020 election.”
Specifically, the subpoena cites reporting by a Michigan news outlet that said McCallum left a voicemail for an unnamed Michigan state representative in December 2020. At the time, then-President Trump had declared Joe Biden’s victory fraudulent and invalid, and lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell were spewing baseless claims about rigged voting machines and voter fraud. In her voicemail message, McCallum said she was calling from Trump campaign headquarters “on behalf of the president.” She told the lawmaker that he could be “a crucial part” of Trump’s reelection and urged him to “reclaim your authority” and “send a slate of electors that will support President Trump and Vice President Pence.”
McCallum ends the message by asking if Trump can “count on you” to support a rival slate of electors. In the end, the leaders of Michigan’s Republican-controlled state legislature did not send a rival slate of electors, saying they did not have the legal power to do so. You can listen to McCallum’s voicemail message here.
Bernard Kerik: Where to begin with Bernie Kerik? Kerik first landed on the national scene as the tough-talking New York Police Department commissioner under then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani at the time of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Kerik’s profile rose from there, and President George W. Bush nominated him to run the Department of Homeland Security in 2004.
Kerik’s fall, however, was as swift as his rise, his legal troubles piling up before he ultimately pleaded guilty to two counts of tax fraud, one count of making a false statement on a loan application, and five counts of making false statements to the federal government in 2010. But in early 2020, President Trump granted him a full pardon, with Trump personally delivering the news. With his connection to Giuliani, Kerik found a place in Trump’s inner circle, and played a not-insignificant part in the Trump team’s efforts to stop Biden’s election victory by any means necessary.
According to the select committee’s subpoena, Kerik allegedly participated in a pivotal meeting on January 5th at the Willard Hotel across the street from the White House. Also at the meeting were Giuliani, Steve Bannon, DOJ lawyer and election-saboteur John Eastman, and several others. The attendees discussed strategies for “overturning the results” of the election, the subpoena says, including “pressuring Vice President Pence to not certify the electoral college results.”
Kerik did more than attend that January 5th meeting. He also paid for rooms and suites at Washington hotels that “served as election-related command centers” as well as helped Giuliani since as early as November 5th “investigate allegations of voter fraud and promote ‘Stop the Steal’ efforts,” the subpoena says.
It’s unlikely that everyone who was subpoenaed Monday will cooperate. Steve Bannon defied a subpoena to testify before the committee last month, prompting the House to vote to hold him in criminal contempt. The Justice Department is now deciding how it plans to proceed.
Jeffrey Clark, a Trump Justice Department official, responded to a subpoena but last week refused to answer questions from the committee, claiming executive privilege. “He has a very short time to reconsider and cooperate fully,” Thompson said on Friday. “We need the information that he is withholding and we are willing to take strong measures to hold him accountable to meet his obligation.”
It’s unclear if the committee will attempt to subpoena members of Congress, but they’d have good reason to considering Rolling Stone’s report last month that several prominent Republican lawmakers were “intimately” involved in the planning of the events of Jan. 6 that turned violent. In the meantime, the committee is drilling down on what Trump’s inner circle knew about the attack on the Capitol that left five dead and dozens injured in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election.