By midnight last night, four of former president Donald Trump’s closest allies were required to turn over documents to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. The four are former chief of staff Mark Meadows, social media manager Dan Scavino, adviser Steve Bannon, and former Defense Department official Kash Patel.
Today, committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and vice chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) released a statement saying that Meadows and Patel “are, so far, engaging” with the committee, but that “Bannon has indicated that he will try to hide behind vague references to privileges of the former President.”
Meanwhile, Bannon told his podcast audience that he will have 20,000 “shock troops” ready to take over the country. “We control this country,” he said. “We have to start acting like it.” Bannon is using Trump’s reliance on executive privilege to defy the congressional subpoenas. Legal observers say this is a stretch, since Bannon was not part of the executive branch after 2017.
The committee expects all the witnesses to cooperate. “[W]e will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral,” they wrote.
It seems significant that Meadows and Patel are not, apparently, relying on the former president to protect them, while Bannon is. Scavino has been eluding the subpoena, but Rawstory reported tonight that he had finally been served.
Bannon and Patel are scheduled to testify before the committee on October 14, while Scavino and Meadows are scheduled for October 15. Their cooperation—or lack of it—will then become very clear.
Today, the pressure on the former president got higher when the White House declined to assert executive privilege over some of the documents requested by the January 6 committee. Former president Trump’s attorneys had requested that the Biden administration withhold documents about Trump’s actions on January 6. NBC News reported this afternoon that White House Counsel Dana Remus has sent a letter to the National Archives saying that “President Biden has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified as to any of the documents.”
“These are unique and extraordinary circumstances,” Remus added. “Congress is examining an assault on our Constitution and democratic institutions provoked and fanned by those sworn to protect them, and the conduct under investigation extends far beyond typical deliberations concerning the proper discharge of the President’s constitutional responsibilities. The constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself.”
According to MSNBC, those documents include Twitter messages, phone and visitor logs, videos and photos of Trump’s events, all documents and communications related to Vice President Mike Pence’s movements and security, the planning around the counting of the certified votes, and any other documents concerning either the rally at the Ellipse or the Capitol riot.
In other news, the Republican attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, asked a federal appeals court to reinstate S.B. 8, the so-called heartbeat bill banning abortion six weeks into a pregnancy, before most women know they’re pregnant. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit granted his request to suspend the order blocking the law. So S.B. 8 is back in force.