The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas Thursday to four top officials from former President Trump’s administration.
The panel sent letters requesting documents and testimony to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino, former Pentagon official Kashyap Patel, and former White House strategist Stephen Bannon.
The subpoenas make clear the committee’s intention to go after high-ranking Republican officials who they blame for inciting the Capitol attack, setting off a titanic power struggle between Washington’s new regime and the previous one. As the congressional panel looks to impose consequences and accountability for an anti-democratic insurrection, Trump and his allies will use every legal and legislative tool at their disposal to block the effort.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of select committee, described the subpoenas as part of the panel’s efforts to examine what happened when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol as well as what led to that attack. “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,” Thompson said in a statement.
The panel is tasked with investigating the events of Jan. 6, when supporters of former president Trump stormed the Capitol in an effort to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Prior to the insurrection, a crowd had gathered to hear Trump speak, where he told supporters: “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Last month, the committee requested records examining both the strategizing surrounding Trump allies’ efforts to overturn the election results and the planning that brought thousands of the former president’s supporters to Washington on the day of the certification. Earlier Thursday, prior to the panel announcing the subpoenas, the Washington Post reported the Biden White House is leaning toward sharing information with Congress about the activities of Trump and his aides during the insurrection — information Trump has sought to suppress.
These are the first subpoenas issued by the committee, which previously has requested a slew of records from the White House and other government agencies. The committee was established in July and has faced opposition from many Republicans. Senate Republicans blocked an initial bipartisan proposal for a commission to investigate the attack. That led to a House vote that called for Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi to appoint members of a select committee with consultation from Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Ultimately, McCarthy recommended a group of five members including some who had voted to overturn the election results. Pelosi rejected those picks and named just two Republicans, Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, two Trump critics who were the only GOP members to vote to establish the committee.
The subpoenas have instructed Patel and Bannon to testify on October 14. Meadows and Scavino are instructed to testify on the following day. The announcement of the subpoenas also described the committee’s interest in the four former officials. It states that Meadows “reportedly communicated with officials at the state level and in the Department of Justice as part of an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election or prevent the election’s certification.” It also noted Meadows was reportedly “also in communication with organizers of the January 6th rally” on the national mall that precipitated the attack.
The statement noted Scavino was reportedly “with the former President on January 5th during a discussion of how to convince Members of Congress not to certify the election for Joe Biden.” It also noted Scavino promoted the January 6 rally.
Patel is highlighted for his role in “discussions among senior Pentagon officials prior to and on January 6th, 2021, regarding security at the Capitol.” The statement also mentions Bannon’s reported attendance at “a gathering at the Willard Hotel on January 5th, 2021, as part of an effort to persuade Members of Congress to block the certification of the election the next day.”
Meadows and Bannon did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the subpoenas. Patel and Scavino could not be reached. Taylor Budowich, Director of Communications for former President Trump and his post-White House political committee Save America, provided a statement to Rolling Stone dismissing the prior records requests from the committee as part of an effort by Democrats to target the prior administration. He accused them of “trying desperately to distract the country with this bogus process.”
“The highly partisan, Communist-style ‘select committee’ has put forth an outrageously broad records request that lacks both legal precedent and legislative merit,” Budowich said, adding, “Executive privilege will be defended, not just 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.”