WASHINGTON — The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol incited by former President Donald Trump has issued subpoenas to another half-dozen of his associates, including top Trump campaign aides and the author of the now-infamous memo advising then-Vice President Mike Pence to simply declare Trump the winner of the 2020 election.
John Eastman, who wrote that Pence had the unilateral authority to give Trump a second term despite Trump’s loss, former campaign manager Bill Stepien and former campaign strategist Jason Miller have all been subpoenaed, as has former national security adviser and pardoned felon Michael Flynn, who advised Trump to declare martial law and force states to rerun their elections.
“In the days before the January 6th attack, the former president’s closest allies and advisors drove a campaign of misinformation about the election and planned ways to stop the count of Electoral College votes,” committee chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said. “The select committee needs to know every detail about their efforts to overturn the election, including who they were talking to in the White House and in Congress, what connections they had with rallies that escalated into a riot, and who paid for it all.”
Trump campaign staffer Angela McCallum and Bernard Kerik, former New York City police commissioner and another Trump-pardoned felon, were also issued subpoenas.
All six have been ordered to turn over relevant documents to the committee no later than Nov. 23 and to sit for under-oath depositions late this month and through the first two weeks of December.
The Jan. 6 committee has already subpoenaed some two dozen Trump aides and allies. Most are complying, although Trump’s former White House aide Steve Bannon has been held in contempt of Congress for refusing, and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark refused to answer numerous questions, claiming an executive privilege that the committee does not recognize.
Stepien, who managed Trump’s campaign in its final months, “supervised the conversion of the Trump presidential campaign to an effort focused on ‘Stop the Steal’ messaging and related fundraising,” according to the subpoena, which states that the campaign urged states to “delay or deny certification of electoral votes” and to send “multiple slates of electoral votes to the United States Congress.” Stepien did not respond to HuffPost’s query.
Miller, another top Trump campaign official for most of 2020, repeatedly spread Trump’s lies about the election in media interviews and on Bannon’s podcast in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6. He also crafted a statement from Trump claiming that the president and vice president were in complete agreement about Pence’s ability to give Trump a second term, when, in fact, Pence had been telling Trump the opposite for weeks. Miller also did not respond to a HuffPost query.
McCallum, according to her subpoena, participated in the effort to persuade Republican state lawmakers to appoint an alternate slate of electors because of the “widespread election fraud,” which, in fact, did not exist. She could not be reached for comment.
Eastman, then a law professor at Chapman University in Southern California, publicly and in private meetings with Trump and Pence pushed the idea that during Congress’s certification of the election, the vice president could unilaterally declare some electoral votes to be invalid and thereby award Trump a second term. He spoke at the Jan. 6 rally and repeated Trump’s lies about fraud to rile up the crowd. He did not respond to a HuffPost query.
Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation but whom Trump later pardoned, publicly and privately advised Trump to seize voting machines in states narrowly won by Democrat Joe Biden, declare martial law and then force those states to rerun their elections. He could not be reached for comment.
Kerik, who pleaded guilty to tax fraud and other charges but was also pardoned by Trump, took part in the post-election campaign to falsely claim massive voter fraud. He also helped organize and took part in a Jan. 6 “war room” at the Willard Hotel near the White House as a last-ditch effort to coerce Pence into reversing the election on Trump’s behalf. Kerik also could not be reached.
Trump’s spokespeople, who have continued repeating his lies that the election had been “stolen,” did not respond to HuffPost’s query about the new subpoenas.
Trump became the first president in 232 years of U.S. elections to refuse to turn over power peacefully to his successor.
He spent weeks attacking the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 contest he lost, starting his lies in the predawn hours of Nov. 4 that he had really won in a “landslide” and that his victory was being “stolen” from him. Those falsehoods continued through a long string of failed lawsuits challenging the results in a handful of states.
Trump, Flynn and other advisers even discussed using the United States military by invoking the Insurrection Act or declaring martial law to retain power despite having lost the election, including by seizing voting machines and ordering “re-votes” in states Biden narrowly won.
But military leaders had earlier made clear they would not involve themselves in the political process, so after the Electoral College finally voted on Dec. 14, making Biden’s win official, Trump instead turned to a last-ditch scheme to pressure his own vice president into canceling the ballots of millions of voters in several states Biden won and declaring Trump the winner during the pro-forma congressional certification of the election results on Jan. 6.
Trump asked his followers to come to Washington that day, and then told the tens of thousands who showed up to march on the Capitol to intimidate Pence into doing what Trump wanted. “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules,” Trump said.
The mob of supporters he incited attempted to do his bidding by storming the building. They even chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after Pence refused to comply with Trump’s demands.
A police officer died after being assaulted during the insurrection, and four others took their own lives in the days and weeks that followed. One of the rioters was fatally shot as she climbed through a broken window into an anteroom containing still-evacuating House members, and three others in the crowd died during the melee.
While the House impeached Trump for inciting the attack, all but seven Senate Republicans, led by their leader, Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, chose not to convict him — thereby letting Trump continue his political career even as faces several investigations into his post-election actions.
Trump and his allies are now engaged in a campaign to portray the rioter who was shot, Ashli Babbitt, as a martyr and the hundreds of others who have been arrested as victims of political persecution. Trump himself continues to suggest he will run for the 2024 GOP nomination and is using his Save America committee’s money to continue spreading the same falsehoods that culminated in the violence of Jan. 6.