Wednesday, December 1, 2021

On January 6, the commission summons 6 more Trump associates to investigate

WASHINGTON (AP) – Continuing to expand its investigation, a House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol uprising has sent subpoenas to six additional associates of former President Donald Trump who have been active in his efforts to reverse his 2020 defeat.

The committee chairman, Mississippi State Representative Benny Thompson, said on Monday in a statement that the commission is demanding testimony and documents from former Trump campaign officials and others who participated in the “battle room” before the siege and developed a strategy on how to stop certification. … Joe Biden’s victory.

Thompson said the committee has sent new subpoenas to Bill Stepien, Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign manager; Jason Miller, Senior Campaign Advisor; Angela McCallum, national executive assistant for the campaign; John Eastman, lawyer who advised the former president; Michael Flynn, a former Trump national security adviser who spoke to Trump before the uprising; and Bernard Kerik, who the committee said paid for the hotel rooms that served as command centers until January 6.

“In the days leading up to the January 6 attack, the former president’s closest allies and advisers launched a campaign of disinformation about the elections and planned ways to stop the electoral college’s vote count,” Thompson said. “The Special Committee needs to know all the details about their efforts to cancel the elections, including who they spoke to in the White House and in Congress, what connections they had with the rallies that escalated into riots, and who paid for it all. … ”

The subpoena came after the commission had already demanded documents and testimony from several other Trump advisers – some of whom cooperated and some did not. Last month, the House of Representatives voted to disrespect longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon after he refused to comply with his subpoena. Trump himself is fighting an investigation in court.

The rebels, who forcefully pushed the police back to break into the Capitol and disrupt the counting, echoed Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud, and the committee says six newly summoned witnesses helped fuel disinformation in the days leading up to the attack. Trump’s false claims came after election officials and courts across the country confirmed Biden’s victory, and as his own attorney general said there was no evidence of significant fraud.

Thompson says in letters to Trump’s colleagues that the commission found “credible evidence” of their involvement in the former president’s efforts to cancel the election, and outlines ways in which they individually tried to advance his cause.

On Stepien’s subpoena, Thompson cites the testimony of an unnamed witness who said he oversaw the “transformation” of Trump’s presidential campaign into the Stop Theft campaign. In letters to Miller and McCallum, Thompson cites specific efforts to spread false claims, including McCallum’s phone call to an unidentified Michigan lawmaker asking if Trump’s campaign could “count” on them, and calling for the man to push for new state voters. …

Thompson detailed several attempts by Eastman, a lawyer and professor, to convince Vice President Mike Pence to try to cancel the election because he presided over Congressional ID – powers that Pence did not have under the law. Thompson also cites Eastman’s work with the states, including briefing state legislators, and his participation in the so-called “war room” at the Willard Hotel, where he, Bannon, Kerik, and others devised a strategy before the siege on how to undo Trump’s defeat. …

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In a letter to Flynn – a former national security adviser who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and was later pardoned by Trump – Thompson cited a December Oval Office meeting with the then president. Citing media reports, Thompson said Flynn and other attendees “discussed the hijacking of voting machines, declaring a national emergency, using certain emergency national security powers, and continuing to spread the word that the November 2020 elections were tainted by widespread fraud.” …

None of the subpoenas contacted by the Associated Press by Monday responded to requests for comment.

The group is working with other close Trump advisers to obtain testimony, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and administration aides Kashyap Patel and Dan Scavino. The committee members stated that they “came into contact” with these witnesses, but may also express disrespect for them if they do not obey soon.

Trump’s own opposition has prompted some of his advisers, including Bannon, to say they cannot speak publicly about their role. The former president’s lawsuit alleges that he can claim executive privilege or the president’s declaration of confidentiality of certain information in order to prevent the government from passing on internal White House documents to the group. The committee argued that the privilege did not apply.

President Biden has so far relinquished executive privilege over nearly all of the documents requested by the committee, citing the need to investigate the attack.

In his subpoena to Eastman, Thompson sought to preemptively attack any attorney-client privilege he might try to invoke in order to avoid testimony. The letter noted that Eastman had already “made extensive public comments” regarding his legal advice and direct negotiations with Trump.

Former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who joined Trump’s efforts to cancel the election as other department leaders pushed aside, turned up to testify on Friday but declined to cooperate, submitting a letter to the committee saying he would not answer questions. based on Trump’s statement. claims of privilege, including in an ongoing litigation.

Thompson later said that he had rejected claims of privilege and said that Clark had “very little time” to reconsider and cooperate.

The committee has already interviewed more than 150 people in government, social media and law enforcement, including some of Trump’s former aides who have collaborated. The group summoned more than 20 witnesses to the court, and most of them, including several partners who helped plan the massive Stop Theft rally on the morning of the 6th, made it clear that they would cooperate.

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Associated Press author Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

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