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House Panel Investigating Jan. 6 Attacks Subpoenaed 4 Former Trump Officials

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has issued subpoenas to four former Trump administration officials. Two of the big names - former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. The subpoenas are the first from the Democratic-led panel and more could be on the way. We've got NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales with us this morning. Hey, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: Explain why these subpoenas were issued.

GRISALES: The panel says these four former Trump officials have knowledge of important details related to the siege. As you mentioned they were issued to Meadows and Bannon and also former White House deputy chief of staff for communications Dan Scavino and Kash Patel. He served as chief of staff to the defense secretary on January 6. This is part of what we've been hearing about from this panel for weeks, that they're serious about getting to the bottom of what happened on January 6. And subpoenas would mark the next stage of this investigation.

MARTIN: So just remind us what we've seen from the committee so far, I mean, before these subpoenas had been issued.

GRISALES: Well, the committee started their work this summer - that was in July - with a powerful hearing with testimony from officers who were on the front lines on January 6. And those members responded by saying these officers have given them their marching orders, that they would shape their investigation from there. The following month, the committee issued its first wave of document requests from federal agencies and, soon after, social media companies. And they also asked 35 tech and telecom firms to preserve phone records, text messages and other communications for former Trump officials. They said they received thousands of pages of responsive documents to this. And this is also - what is helping shape would be this first wave of subpoenas for this first group of Trump officials being asked to appear before the panel and turn over documents.

MARTIN: So do we know more about the specific questions that the committee has for each of these former officials?

GRISALES: Yes. Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson detailed what the committee is looking into for each of their roles related to the siege. For example, Thompson tells Meadows that as Trump's chief of staff, he has critical information regarding the many elements of their inquiry, including communications with Trump and others on January 6. And he was a witness to activities that day. The letter goes on to say that Meadows was in direct communications with top officials at the Justice Department according to records obtained from that agency, as well as in communication with various state officials to request a probe into election fraud. In Bannon's case, Thompson raises his conversations in the weeks leading up to January 6 in a meeting the night before at a hotel just a block from the White House, the Willard, and plans with Trump allies to try to essentially stop President Biden from taking office.

MARTIN: OK, so that's Meadows and Bannon. What about the other officials, Kash Patel and Dan Scavino?

GRISALES: Thompson says in additional letters that the panel seeking information from Patel, for example, the former DOJ official, regarding his knowledge of security preparations ahead of the attack. As we saw, security failed that day. As for Scavino, Thompson said the committee wants to know about his role amplifying the January 6 event with Trump.

MARTIN: Have these people responded yet to the subpoenas?

GRISALES: We are not hearing anything yet from these former officials. Former President Trump, however, did issue a statement last night. He said that they would fight the subpoena, quote, "fight the subpoenas on executive privilege." That said, the four have all been given deadlines to turn over relevant documents by October 7. And they'll need to appear before the panel by the following week, so that's either October 14 or 15. So this will be a big legal test for this panel in terms of their efforts to compel these witnesses. It's also what appears to just be the beginning of these kinds of requests. And these names could signal how quickly this panel may want to move up the food chain of key players, if you will, who may have played a role on January 6.

MARTIN: All right. NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales, thanks for your reporting on this.

GRISALES: Appreciate it. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.