There are definitely some members of Trump’s circle who would not dare talk to the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 without the permission of Donald Trump. There are some who, like John Eastman, should know that any honest discussion of events on and before that day will leave them open to serious charges. But there are others who may very well want to speak—if not out of concern for the nation, then out of frustration and anger at the way they, and their families, were treated as expendable in Trump’s quest for endless power.
Among those who have a good reason to be resentful of how the attempted overthrow of the government played out are a number of aides to Mike Pence. CNN reports that the committee is seeking testimony from at least five members of Pence’s team, including National Security Adviser Keith Kellogg and former Chief of Staff Marc Short. Short may be among those who have already testified. Former Pence Press Secretary Alyssa Farah voluntarily met with Republican Rep. Liz Cheney and fellow Republican member of the committee Adam Kinzinger in October.
Considering recent news that Pence’s team was pressured by attorney John Eastman to carry out his coup plan while the assault on the Capitol was underway, previous confirmation from Short that he was banned from the White House following the attempted overthrow, and currently unconfirmed reports from the Mueller, She Wrote podcast that Pence’s whole team was locked out of their offices on Jan. 6 and placed in additional danger when their security badges were deactivated, all of them could have good reason to spill what they know to the committee.
Over the last few days, the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 has issued a flurry of subpoenas to Trump officials, advisers, attorneys, and campaign members. These followed an earlier group of subpoenas that included one for proud fascist Steve Bannon, who has refused to testify, was held in contempt by the full House, and is currently waiting for the Department of Justice’s decision on whether contempt of Congress is still something that should concern anyone. Even those subpoenas that have gone out are just a portion of the list of people the committee would like to interview.
The frustrating slowness of getting these major figures into a chair—along with the ongoing fight to obtain documents from the national archives that are being blocked by a lawsuit from Donald Trump—may make it seem that the select committee is achieving little when it comes to an actual investigation into events surrounding Jan. 6 and the insurgency. However, back on Nov. 4, Cheney claimed that the committee has already interviewed “more than 150 people.” Cheney did not get more specific, and since most of the committee’s work has been behind closed doors, it’s difficult to know just who has appeared or what kind of information has been collected.
Most of those who have refused to talk have already found refuge in the vast Republican network of “think tanks” and “institutes” that stand by offer GOP insiders a steady six-figure paycheck. Others view themselves as potential candidates for upcoming offices in the Trump-centric party.
But while Pence himself has made extensive efforts to appease the crowd that was chanting for his neck and the man who hung him out to dry, that attitude apparently doesn’t extend to the members of his staff who, according to the Mueller, She Wrote podcaster, were left “huddled on a loading dock” in the midst of the Capitol attack.
In the latest round of subpoenas, the committee included at least one member of Pence’s inner circle: Keith Kellogg. However, that’s not necessarily a sign that the security adviser is a reluctant witness. As CNN points out, it’s not unusual for “friendly subpoenas” to be produced for witnesses who are willing to cooperate, but who don’t want to be seen as volunteering to tell their story.