Former President Donald Trump plans to instruct some of his top aides to defy subpoenas for documents and testimony from the Jan. 6 House Select Committee, according to a report from The Guardian.
The former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and other top aides subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack are expected to defy orders for documents and testimony related to 6 January, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The move to defy the subpoenas would mark the first major investigative hurdle faced by the select committee and threatens to touch off an extended legal battle as the former president pushes some of his most senior aides to undercut the inquiry.
All four Trump aides targeted by the select committee – Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, strategist Steve Bannon and defense department aide Kash Patel – are expected to resist the orders because Trump is preparing to direct them to do so, the source said.
If the four men defy the committee’s subpoenas, it could result in them being criminally charged, as committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) has already made it clear that he will indeed make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.
The former aides to Trump are expected to argue that they are protected by executive privilege and therefore are immune from any subpoena from a congressional committee.
But The Guardian also notes that attorney Patrick Philbin, who heads the former president’s legal team, doubts that claims of executive privilege can be made in defiance of a valid subpoena:
Philbin appears less convinced than Trump about the strength of the legal argument, the sources said, in part because the justice department previously declined to assert the protection for 6 January testimony, suggesting it did not exist to protect Trump’s personal interests. The former president’s lawyer, sources said, instead seems to view the strategy more as an effective way to slow-walk the select committee, which is aiming to produce a final report before the 2022 midterm elections, to keep the inquiry non-partisan.
Meadows, Bannon, Scavino, and Patel have until Thursday to turn over documents listed in the subpoena and are supposed to appear for depositions next week.
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