OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Donald Trump has instructed his former advisors and staffers to use Executive Privilege to avoid complying with subpoenas from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 incident at the Captiol.
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Steve Bannon and others are expected to defy the orders, a source close to the situation said, The Guardian reported.
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.
The select committee had issued the subpoenas under the threat of criminal prosecution in the event of non-compliance, warning that the penalty for defying a congressional subpoena would be far graver under the Biden administration than during the Trump presidency.
But increasingly concerned with the far-reaching nature of the 6 January investigation, Trump and his legal team, led by the ex-Trump campaign lawyer Justin Clark the former deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin, are moving to instruct the attorneys for the subpoenaed aides to defy the orders.
“The ‘Unselect Committee’ of highly partisan politicians, a similar group that perpetrated the now proven lie of Russia, Russia, Russia, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine, Impeachment Hoax #1, Impeachment Hoax #2, and many other Scams, has sent out Harassment Subpoenas on Jan. 6th so that the Government of the United States can continue wasting time while Russia, China, and virtually every other country that deals with our Nation can continue to ‘eat our lunch,’ and laugh at the stupidity of what is going on at our Southern Border, and the worst withdrawal from a war zone by any Nation in history—all of this while the Democrats persecute and prosecute Republicans which is, together with Rigging Elections, essentially all they know how to do. We will fight the Subpoenas on Executive Privilege and other grounds, for the good of our Country, while we wait to find out whether or not Subpoenas will be sent out to Antifa and BLM for the death and destruction they have caused in tearing apart our Democrat-run cities throughout America,” the 45th President of the United States said in an email via his Save America PAC in September.
“Hopefully the Unselect Committee will be calling witnesses on the Rigged Presidential Election of 2020, which is the primary reason that hundreds of thousands of people went to Washington, D.C. in the first place. Let the people of the United States see the real facts, which cannot happen because the Fake News refuses to write about them. The Witch Hunt will never end! In the meantime, the Democrats get away with the Russia Scam, and all of the other corruption they have perpetrated on our Country for so many years. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” he said.
Some Democrats have threatened legal action if those who are subpoenaed do not comply.
“When we come to people that have committed crimes on January 6th, we will turn that over, but at the same time, the chairman has signaled our determination to get all of the information we’re asking for. It’s not discretionary or optional. It’s the government’s subpoenas or documents from you, you have to testify unless you will assert a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, and we don’t think that that exists,” Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin said on MSNBC.
“If someone like President Trump would want to come forward hypothetically or someone else and say I’m exercising my privilege against self-incrimination and that sets off a whole other process where they could be given use immunity. In other words, we will immunize you from the use of any information you give us, but you do still have to testify. So that’s possible, too. The point is we’re not going to play these games during the Trump administration when they treated a subpoena like it’s optional, and that’s not what it is.
“This is deadly serious stuff. We’re asking for the information, and we owe a comprehensive report to the American people about what took place and what changes we need to make through the entire system of government and security in order to protect democracy against right-wing, violent extremist attacks and political manipulation and clues,” he said.