WASHINGTON — The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol incited by Donald Trump has issued subpoenas to another half-dozen of his associates, including top Trump campaign aides and the author of the now-infamous memo advising then-Vice President Mike Pence to simply declare Trump the winner.
John Eastman, who wrote that Pence had the unilateral authority to give Trump a second term despite his election loss, former campaign manager Bill Stepien and former campaign strategist Jason Miller have all been subpoenaed, as has former national security adviser and pardoned felon Michael Flynn, who advised Trump to declare martial law and force states to rerun their elections.
“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,” committee chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said. “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.”
Trump campaign staffer Angela McCallum and Bernard Kerik, former New York City police commissioner and another Trump-pardoned felon, were also issued subpoenas.
All six have been ordered to turn over relevant documents to the committee no later than Nov. 23 and to sit for under-oath depositions late this month and through the first two weeks of December.
The committee has already subpoenaed some two dozen Trump aides and allies. Most are complying, although Trump’s former White House aide Steve Bannon has been held in contempt of Congress for refusing, and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark refused to answer numerous questions, claiming an executive privilege that the committee does not recognize.
Trump became the first president in 232 years of U.S. elections to refuse to turn over power peacefully to his successor.
He spent weeks attacking the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 contest he lost, starting his lies in the predawn hours of Nov. 4 that he had really won in a “landslide” and that his victory was being “stolen” from him. Those falsehoods continued through a long string of failed lawsuits challenging the results in a handful of states.
Trump and some of his advisers even discussed using the United States military by invoking the Insurrection Act or declaring martial law to retain power despite having lost the election, including by seizing voting machines and ordering “re-votes” in states narrowly won by President Joe Biden.
But military leaders had earlier made clear they would not involve themselves in the political process, so after the Electoral College finally voted on Dec. 14, making Biden’s win official, Trump instead turned to a last-ditch scheme to pressure his own vice president into canceling the ballots of millions of voters in several states Biden won and declaring Trump the winner during the pro-forma congressional certification of the election results on Jan. 6.
Trump asked his followers to come to Washington that day, and then told the tens of thousands who showed up to march on the Capitol to intimidate Pence into doing what Trump wanted. “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules,” Trump said.
The mob of supporters he incited attempted to do his bidding by storming the building. They even chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after Pence refused to comply with Trump’s demands.
A police officer died after being assaulted during the insurrection, and four others took their own lives in the days and weeks that followed. One of the rioters was fatally shot as she climbed through a broken window into an anteroom containing still-evacuating House members, and three others in the crowd died during the melee.
While the House impeached Trump for inciting the attack, all but seven Senate Republicans, led by their leader, Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, chose not to convict him — thereby letting Trump continue his political career even as faces several investigations into his post-election actions.
Trump and his allies are now engaged in a campaign to portray the rioter who was shot, Ashli Babbitt, as a martyr and the hundreds of others who have been arrested as victims of political persecution. Trump himself continues to suggest he will run for the 2024 GOP nomination and is using his Save America committee’s money to continue spreading the same falsehoods that culminated in the violence of Jan. 6.