Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the bipartisan committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, told reporters late last week that he'd already signed some additional subpoenas, which he expected to go out "soon." We apparently didn't have to wait too long: As NBC News reported late yesterday, the bipartisan panel has formally reached out to several key figures.
Six people were subpoenaed: Bill Stepien, Trump's 2020 re-election campaign manager; Jason Miller, a senior campaign adviser; Angela McCallum, a campaign aide; John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who was reported to have advised Trump and others in the administration; Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser; and Bernard Kerik, an adviser who the committee said used Washington, D.C., hotels as "command centers" for the campaign's election strategy. The committee is demanding records and testimony from witnesses between late November and mid-December.
According to a written statement released by the committee, partisans close to Donald Trump created a "war room," whose members "drove efforts to halt the counting of electoral votes" in the runup to the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol. Yesterday's subpoenas are part of an effort to learn more about the initiative.
And by all appearances, the investigatory panel has reached out to people who are well positioned to shed light on what transpired.
- Stepien oversaw Trump's 2020 campaign, which is the same political operation that allegedly pushed state and local officials to corrupt the electoral process.
- Miller used his position as a Trump insider to promote the Big Lie, and reportedly participated in a Jan. 5 meeting with Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon in which attendees discussed strategies to overturn the election results.
- McCallum was recorded reaching out to a state representative in Michigan, recommending that the lawmaker appoint a slate of electors for the candidate who lost the state.
- Eastman, of course, helped devise the legal strategy that served as the foundation for Trump's anti-election strategy.
- Flynn allegedly attended a December 2020 meeting in the Oval Office in which participants discussed declaring a national emergency as part of a scheme to keep Trump in power despite his defeat. The disgraced former White House national security advisor also raised the prospect of deploying U.S. troops and declaring martial law.
- Kerik, the disgraced former New York City police commissioner and ex-convict, was also reportedly a participant at the Jan. 5 meeting.
As Rachel noted on the show last night, the subpoena for Stepien was of particular interest because it referenced information the committee received from a different witness — raising questions about who may be turning on whom behind the scenes.
For those keeping track, this is the fifth subpoena announcement from the House select committee. It was in late September when subpoenas went out to Steve 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.
A week later, 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. A month ago, the committee issued several subpoenas for the organizers of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6, and in mid-October, the panel subpoenaed Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who used his office to sketch out a map for Republican legislators to follow in which they could try to overturn the will of voters.
Clark was expected to provide the Jan. 6 committee with information late last week, but according to the panel, he was not cooperative. Of particular interest: Clark reportedly asserted attorney-client privilege, despite the fact that Trump was never Clark's client.
For his part, the former president and his lawyers recently filed suit, trying to prevent the congressional committee from receiving relevant documents, and reinforcing the impression that Trump has something to hide.
Rep. Liz Cheney, the Republican co-chair of the bipartisan panel, nevertheless boasted last week that the committee is making "real progress." Watch this space.
Postscript: In case this isn't obvious, it's worth noting that time is of the essence: If Republicans retake the House majority in next year's midterm elections, one of the first orders of business for GOP leaders will be shutting down this investigation.