A bipartisan panel investigating the January 6th attacks on the US Capitol has subpoenaed four close aides of former president Donald Trump, including Steve Bannon, his one-time political adviser, and Mark Meadows, who was White House chief of staff.
The request for “documents and testimony” from key members of Mr Trump’s inner circle was announced by the House of Representatives select committee late on Thursday. The panel said it was seeking the information from individuals “who were working in or had communications with the White House on or in the days leading up to the January 6th insurrection”.
Along with Mr Bannon and Mr Meadows, the committee has also subpoenaed Dan Scavino, the former White House deputy chief of staff for communications, and Kashyap Patel, previously a defence department official.
The nine-member committee is chaired by Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, and includes six other Democrats, as well as two Republicans who have been critical of Mr Trump – Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
The panel explained the request for information from Mr Meadows because he “reportedly communicated” with state and justice department officials to overturn the results of the 2020 election – and was “also in communication with organisers” of a rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol.
According to the panel, Mr Bannon urged Mr Trump "to focus his efforts" on January 6th and "reportedly attended a gathering at the Willard Hotel" near the White House on January 5th, to "to persuade members of Congress to block the certification of the election the next day". The committee also noted that Mr Bannon had been quoted as saying on January 5th that "all hell is going to break loose tomorrow".
Mr Bannon and Mr Patel are scheduled to appear at a deposition on October 14th, while Mr Meadows and Mr Scavino are scheduled to do so on October 15th.
The January 6th assault on the Capitol led to multiple deaths and scores of injuries, as well as physical damage to the seat of the US legislature and trauma to lawmakers and their staff, in what has been widely described as one of the darkest days in American democracy.
Mr Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for fomenting the assault as he sought to stop Joe Biden from been inaugurated as president on January 20th, but Mr Trump was not convicted by the Senate, which required a supermajority vote.
The push to investigate the events of January 6th has been overwhelmingly led by Democrats, and a few Republicans including Ms Cheney and Mr Kinzinger who defied the former president to challenge his conduct and actions in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
Most Republicans in Congress have either denied the need for any further investigation, or sought to insert Trump loyalists on the select committee, which Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, rejected.
According to the committee, Mr Patel, who was chief of staff to Christopher Miller, the acting defence secretary, had been discussing "security at the Capitol" with senior Pentagon officials on the day of the attack and had been speaking to Mr Meadows "all day" on January 6th.
Mr Scavino had been tweeting from the White House on the day of the attack, and the previous day had encouraged people “to be a part of history”, according to the panel. – Financial Times