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Image:  White House Chief Strategist Bannon attends a meeting between U.S. President Trump and congressional leaders in Washington
White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon attends a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and congressional leaders to discuss trade deals at the at the Roosevelt room of the White House in Washington on Feb. 2, 2017.Carlos Barria / Reuters file

On the Jan. 6 attack, Team Trump appears to have something to hide

The subpoenas from the bipartisan panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack are evidence of an intensifying select committee investigation.


According to the new book from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Steve Bannon was in communications with Donald Trump in the runup to the Jan. 6 attack, and he reportedly told the then-president, "[I]t's time to kill the Biden presidency in the crib."

As we recently discussed, the story served as a reminder that Bannon and others like him appear to have key insights into the events of Jan. 6 and would be in a position to shed light on the insurrectionist violence. It's why the bipartisan House committee investigating the attack issued four subpoenas in late-September, seeking information from key Trump insiders, including Bannon.

The members of the former president's team were given two weeks to comply with the panel's request. It was against this backdrop that Trump's lawyers sent the quartet a letter. The New York Times reported:

Former President Donald J. Trump has instructed his former aides not to comply with subpoenas from the special congressional committee investigating the Capitol riot, raising the prospect of the panel issuing criminal referrals for some of his closest advisers as early as Friday. In a letter reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Trump's lawyer asked that witnesses not provide testimony or documents related to their "official" duties, and instead to invoke any immunities they might have "to the fullest extent permitted by law."

The Times' article added, "The move amounted to a declaration of war by Mr. Trump on the investigation, and raised legal questions about how far the committee could go in compelling information from a former president and his advisers."

Trump's political operation issued a related statement yesterday, condemning the "communist-style 'select committee.'" (I'll confess, I'm not entirely sure what "communist-style" means, though I do find the phrase hilarious.)

The same statement referred to "executive privilege," which is a curious concept given that Bannon wasn't in the executive branch at any point in 2020.

Nevertheless, The Washington Post reported this morning that Bannon has told the congressional select committee that he will not cooperate with the subpoena.

The letter from his attorney, Robert Costello, notes that former president Donald Trump’s attorney recently asked Bannon to defy the lawmakers’ request for documents or information citing executive privilege, the doctrine cited by presidents to protect access to notes and communications related to holding the office of the president.

As a rule, when these guys act like they have something to hide, it's generally because they have something to hide.

As for the committee's investigation, the probe appears to be intensifying. Two weeks ago, subpoenas went out to Bannon, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former social media director Dan Scavino, and Kashyap Patel, who was chief of staff to Trump's defense secretary. Last week, the panel sought information from a group of activists, partisan operatives, and organizers who might help shed light on the "planning, organization, and funding" of events that led up to the deadly insurrectionist violence.

And yesterday, as NBC News reported, the committee issued several new subpoenas for the organizers of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6, including Ali Alexander and Nathan Martin.

The same NBC News report added that Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson has said his panel would most likely send criminal contempt referrals for witnesses who do not comply with the subpoenas. "We'll do criminal referrals and let that process work out," the Mississippi Democrat said.