The subpoenas were announced Thursday evening by the committee, which has moved its inquiry into a new, more aggressive stage after requesting White House records last month and sending preservation requests for records to telecom and social media companies.
Trump and his team have condemned the select committee’s inquiry since it began, vowing to fight its demands for documents and interviews with claims of executive privilege. A debate about a former president’s ability to restrict access to information and individuals has already begun in Washington — and is likely to become dramatically more intense now that these first subpoenas have been issued.
Along with asking Meadows, Scavino, Patel and Bannon to hand over records, the committee is instructing the four men to appear for depositions in mid-October.
Bannon and Scavino did not respond to requests for comment. Meadows could not be reached.
Patel issued a statement Thursday evening saying, “I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Committee tried to subpoena me through the press . . . before seeking my voluntary cooperation. I will continue to tell the truth to the American people about the events of January 6th.”
Trump issued a lengthy statement that said he would fight the subpoenas by invoking executive privilege. In the statement, he also made the type of false claims about the 2020 election that were embraced by the mob of his supporters as they ransacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 and engaged in violent clashes with the police.
“Hopefully the Unselect Committee will be calling witnesses on the Rigged Presidential Election of 2020, which is the primary reason that hundreds of thousands of people went to Washington, D.C. in the first place,” he said.
The executive privilege questions will be especially focused on Meadows and Scavino because of their roles in the White House and access to Trump before, during and after the Jan 6 disturbance.
On the day of the attack, Meadows and Scavino were firsthand witnesses to the president’s state of mind and hopes for his speech on the Ellipse, where he urged thousands of protesters to go up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol and to “fight like hell” for their country. After violence broke out at the Capitol and police shot a rioter, Meadows, working with Scavino and with help from Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, repeatedly tried to get Trump to issue a public message to tell his supporters to stop their protest and leave the Capitol grounds. These details were first reported in the book “I Alone Can Fix It” by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.
In a letter accompanying the subpoena to Meadows, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), writes that the panel has obtained “credible evidence” of Meadows’s involvement within “the scope of the select committee’s inquiry.” The letter cites several examples of Meadows’s communication and proximity to the former president leading up to and on the day of the insurrection.
Thompson also notes that Justice Department documents reveal that Meadows “directly communicated with the highest officials at the Department of Justice requesting investigations into election fraud matters in several states” and made contact with “several state officials to encourage investigation of allegations of election fraud.”
Thompson wrote to Scavino that “it appears you were with or in the vicinity of former president Trump on January 6 and are a witness to his activities that day. You may also have material relevant to his video taping and tweeting messages on Jan 6.” The letter cites reports in a new book, “Peril,” by Washington Post writers Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, that Scavino was also with Trump on Jan. 5 “when he and others were considering how to convince Members of Congress not to certify the election for Joe Biden.”
In its letter to Bannon, the select committee writes that the longtime activist and adviser has “information relevant to understanding important activities that led to and informed the events at the Capitol” on Jan. 6.
“For example, you have been identified as present at the Willard Hotel on January 5, 2021, during an effort to persuade Members of Congress to block the certification of the election the next day, and in relation to other activities on January 6,” Thompson writes. “You are also described as communicating with then-President Trump on December 30, 2020, and potentially other occasions, urging him to plan for and focus his efforts on January 6.”
Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), worked in White House national security positions under Trump before transferring to the Pentagon. When the panel requested documents from the Pentagon in August, it mentioned Patel specifically. The committee requested “documents and communications concerning possible attempts by President Donald Trump to remain in office after January 20, 2021.” The panel also asked for communications about martial law.
On Thursday, the committee subpoenaed Patel for “all documents and communications to, from, or referring to Patel, relating to civil unrest, violence, or attacks at the U.S. Capitol; challenging, overturning, or questioning the validity of the 2020 election results; or the counting of the electoral college vote on January 6, 2021.”