The select panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is issuing subpoenas to four current and former top aides to President Donald Trump, including his most recent chief of staff Mark Meadows.
The committee issued its first subpoenas on Thursday to Meadows; former Pentagon official and longtime House Intelligence Committee aide Kash Patel; former top White House adviser Steve Bannon; and longtime Trump social media chief Dan Scavino. It marks a turning point in the investigation as lawmakers begin homing in on Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results.
The Jan. 6 committee’s chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), had foreshadowed Wednesday that the first subpoenas would go out imminently, as the panel kicks into high gear with the goal of finishing its work by next spring. The four Trump associates will be commanded to produce relevant documents by Oct. 7 and appear for depositions the following week.
“The Select Committee has revealed credible evidence of your involvement in events within the scope of the Select Committee’s inquiry,” Thompson wrote in the letter to Meadows, saying he has “critical information regarding many elements of our inquiry.”
In a statement released shortly after the subpoenas were issued, Trump lashed out at the panel and reiterated his discredited claims about the results of the 2020 election.
“We will fight the Subpoenas on Executive Privilege and other grounds, for the good of our Country,” Trump said in the statement, deriding the panel as the “Unselect Committee.”
Hundreds of those charged in breaching the Capitol on Jan. 6 have cited Trump’s false claims about election fraud as a motivating factor for their decision to travel to Washington ahead of what turned into the violent attack.
The issuance of subpoenas marks a sharp escalation in the two-month-old committee’s activity. The panel is bracing for resistance from the four Trump associates — Thompson and other committee members indicated that they would issue immediate subpoenas to those they felt would be “recalcitrant.”
In a statement released later Thursday, Patel said: “I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Committee tried to subpoena me through the press and violated longstanding protocol — which I upheld as a congressional staffer — by resorting to compulsory process before seeking my voluntary cooperation. I will continue to tell the truth to the American people about the events of January 6th.”
The letters cite a mix of news reports and documents obtained by the committee to suggest that the aides have information relevant to their investigation. For example, in the letter to Bannon — the longtime boss of Breitbart News who helped lead Trump’s 2016 campaign in its final months — the committee cited passages from “Peril,” the new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, as a basis for seeking his testimony.
Patel, a veteran of House Intel Ranking Member Devin Nunes’ staff before Trump tapped him for a series of high-profile national security jobs, was the chief of staff to Defense Secretary Christopher Miller in the waning days of the Trump administration. The panel says it believes he has documents that would reveal the White House’s involvement in “preparing for and responding to the attack on the U.S. Capitol.”
The committee also cites “Peril” as a basis for calling Scavino, who noted that the book suggested Scavino was at Trump’s side the night before the Jan. 6 insurrection and helped Trump develop his messaging in the run-up to the certification of the Electoral College.
“It also appears that you were with or in the vicinity of former President Trump on Jan. 6 and are a witness regarding his activities that day,” Thompson wrote.
Meridith McGraw contributed to this report