National Security

Trump advising 4 former aides to ignore subpoenas from Jan. 6 panel: report

Former President Trump is reportedly advising four of his former aides to defy subpoenas they received from the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, which is requesting documents and their testimony.

Politico reported on Thursday that one of Trump’s lawyers sent a letter to his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former strategist Stephen Bannon, former deputy chief of staff for communications Dan Scavino and Kash Patel — the former chief of staff to then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, and a former White House staffer — urging them not to comply with the subpoenas.

The letter, according to Politico, claims that the information the committee is requesting is shielded by executive privilege, in addition to other privileges.

“President Trump is prepared to defend these fundamental privileges in court,” the letter says, according to the news outlet.

Fifteen people have been subpoenaed by the select committee in connection to the Jan. 6 attack thus far. The panel sent 11 more subpoenas last week, including to the spokesperson of Trump’s 2016 campaign and other individuals who were involved with planning the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the riot.

House investigations, however, have reportedly been unable to track down Scavino to officially serve him his subpoena.

The letter from Trump’s lawyer signals that the select committee may face a fierce legal battle as it works to gather information regarding the president’s thoughts and actions as the riots were occurring on Capitol Hill.

Trump has previously said a number of times that he will use executive privilege to block testimony and documents from his former aides, but that effort is likely to set the scene for significant legal battles.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki last month said President Biden has decided that he does not plan to use executive privilege to protect documents from the Trump era that the House panel is requesting.

After that comment, however, a White House spokesperson said the administration would consider requests for executive privilege on a “case-by-case” basis.

Trump’s team on Thursday emphasized his determination to shield the enforcement of the subpoenas through executive privilege.

Taylor Budowich, Trump’s director of communications, told The Hill in a statement that 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.”

“The highly partisan, Communist-style ‘select committee’ has put forth an outrageously broad records request that lacks both legal precedent and legislative merit,” he added.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the select committee, has previously said the panel will utilize any legal means available to enforce the subpoenas, and that he hopes to be able to rely on a friendly administration.

Legal experts have differed on Trump’s legal standing, with some saying there are legitimate privilege concerns he could defend, while others contending the former president is on shaky legal ground.

The House panel is ramping up its investigation of the Jan. 6 attack and the events that led up to the riots. In addition to the waves of subpoenas, the committee held its first hearing in July that featured emotional testimony from four police officers who defended the Capitol on that day.

Updated at 5:10 p.m.

Tags Bennie Thompson Capitol riot Donald Trump insurrection Jan. 6 commission Jen Psaki Joe Biden Mark Meadows subpoenas Trump administration

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