The select committee investigating the January 6 breach of the United States Capitol building has subpoenaed six more individuals, including a lawyer for Trump who helped craft a scheme to upend the Electoral College and the former president’s first National Security Advisor.
The January 6 commission believes these six individuals — all of whom were associated with Trump’s campaign and his so-called “Stop the Steal” movement — can provide insight into Trump’s motivations in the days leading up to a mob of his loyalists attacking the Capitol.
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- John Eastman, a Trump lawyer who crafted a memo that sought to have then-Vice President Mike Pence refuse to count certain states’ electors in the Electoral College in order to hand the presidency to Trump for a second term;
- Michael Flynn, Trump’s first National Security Advisor whom the former president pardoned over “any and all possible offenses” arising from the Robert Mueller-led Russia probe, and whom the commission believes was involved in meetings with Trump over how to promote lies about election fraud;
- Jason Miller, a former senior campaign adviser who served as spokesperson for Trump after he exited office;
- Bernard Kerik, the disgraced former New York City police commissioner — also granted a pardon by Trump — who attended a meeting at the Willard Hotel focused on overturning the election;
- Bill Stepien, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager who oversaw the campaign’s transition to the “Stop the Steal” strategy;
- And Angela McCallum, national executive assistant to Trump’s reelection campaign.
The January 6 commission is asking for documents from these six individuals and requesting that they give closed- door testimony to commission investigators starting at the end of November through mid-December.
The activities of these six individuals are key to understanding what led up to the attack on the Capitol, commission vice chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) said.
“In the days before the Jan. 6 attack, the former president’s closest allies and advisers drove a campaign of misinformation about the election and planned ways to stop the count of Electoral College votes,” Thompson 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.”
This latest round of subpoenas brings the total number of subpoenas issued to 25, although more than 150 witnesses have testified before investigators so far, most without the need for such orders. The six individuals subpoenaed on Monday seem to indicate that the commission is focusing on strategy sessions held by Trump and his inner circle to overturn the election results.
“They are really honing in on this strategy at the Willard Hotel,” Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney and current law professor at the University of Michigan, said to The New York Times. “If it’s a campaign war room, that’s one thing. But the question is: To what extent are they looking at blocking the certification of the election?”
Eastman’s testimony about his scheme to help Trump overturn the Electoral College results will be of great concern, McQuade added.
“The Eastman memo is a real smoking gun. It really appears to be a concerted effort here,” she said.
It’s likely that the subpoenas will be challenged, either by Trump himself or by those receiving them, as the subpoenaed individuals represent some of Trump’s most loyal confidantes. Flynn, for instance, was steadfast in his refusal to cooperate with the Mueller investigation, even when facing the possibility of a long prison sentence.
The matter will likely be tied up in the courts, as Trump has already sued to have other former aides’ testimonies blocked by making dubious claims of executive privilege — a right conferred to presidents that many legal experts believe Trump no longer has as a former chief executive.
Although the lawsuits may not rest on sound legal ground, many say that isn’t the point. Rather, challenging the ability of Trump associates to testify is likely a delay tactic meant to “run out the clock” on the January 6 commission’s work up to the 2022 midterm elections, when Republicans may take control of Congress.
Trump is using the courts “to delay, try to prevent the country from learning about his corruption,” commission member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) said last month. “Donald Trump will lose this litigation, and he knows he’ll lose the litigation. The point isn’t winning, the point is delaying.”