Jan. 6 panel issues new wave of subpoenas for ex-Trump officials

"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."

  • By Claudia Grisales/NPR

(Washington) — The Democratic-led House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has issued a new round of subpoenas to several ex-Trump administration officials and allies, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney John Eastman, who wrote a memo outlining ways former Vice President Mike Pence could reject Joe Biden’s electoral count victory.

In all, the panel issued six new subpoenas, including demands for records and testimony. Aside from Flynn and Eastman, subpoenas were issued for former Trump spokesman Jason Miller, ex-campaign manager William “Bill” Stepien, former New York Police commissioner and ex-felon Bernard Kerik, and former Trump campaign aide Angela McCallum.

“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,” the committee’s chair, Rep. 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.”

Thompson went onto say the panel expects all the witnesses to cooperate with their investigation.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Reps. Bennie Thompson (right) and Liz Cheney, joined by fellow committee members, speak to the media after a July 27 hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Why the committee wants to talk to them

The panel said all six witnesses were involved in efforts to promote false claims of election fraud or overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“All have information that is deeply important to the committee,” said California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the panel.

Miller, Stepien and McCallum all worked on Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign in various roles. The committee alleges the campaign urged states to delay or deny certification of electoral votes.

“These are people who played pivotal roles at the very top of the Trump campaign, who have knowledge about the ‘Big Lie’ that the election was stolen, or rigged, or fraudulent somehow, that resulted in that violent insurrection,” Schiff said. “And in order to do a comprehensive report, we really need to hear from them.”

The witnesses also made public statements that contributed to disinformation efforts, the panel said. For example, the committee noted Miller earlier last year claimed that Democrats would “steal” the election, a message echoed by rioters on Jan. 6, and coordinated with Trump and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to say the election was rigged.

Miller also joined another newly subpoenaed witnesses Kerik and Eastman along with Giuliani, former strategist Steve Bannon and others for meeting at the Willard Hotel near the White House on the eve of Jan. 6 to plot out plans to overturn the election’s results, the panel said.

For his part, Eastman also participated in a briefing with nearly 300 state legislators urging them not to put “some guy who didn’t get elected” in office, the panel alleges. Eastman also spoke at a rally preceding the Capitol attack.

Flynn, the panel said, was part of a Dec. 18, 2020, Oval Office meeting that covered the potential for seizing voting machines and invoking a national emergency. Flynn also appeared in media discussing the potentials.

Notably, both Flynn and Kerik received Trump pardons in his final year in office. Kerik had been serving time for tax fraud among other charges before his February 2020 pardon, while Flynn was pardoned in December as he faced prosecution for charges of lying to federal investigators.

Julio Cortez / AP Photo

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington.

What’s been done so far

The panel has been working at a rapid clip, now issuing more than two dozen subpoenas targeting another wave of former Trump officials and members of a right-wing group and another tied to other organizers of the rally that preceded the siege. Last month, the House approved a referral for a criminal contempt of Congress charge against Bannon for defying his subpoena.

“We’ve been moving very expeditiously and the vast majority of people are cooperating,” Schiff said. “There are some who are resistant to cooperation. We expect everyone to do their lawful duty. If they get a subpoena, they need to appear, they need to produce the documents that are called for or they’ll be referred for prosecution, like Steve Bannon was.”

The subpoenas followed requests to dozens of social media and tech companies to preserve and turn over records, along with several federal agencies.

So far, the committee has met with about 150 witnesses, including informal interviews and depositions. The committee has not yet publicly identified those who have cooperated.

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