The House Select Committee on events related to the Jan. 6 insurgency has followed up document requests with its first subpoenas. As The New York Times reports, subpoenas have gone out to former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, former Pentagon Chief of Staff Kash Patel, and full-time scumbag Stephen Bannon.
All four were given two weeks to pony up the documents formally requested by the committee earlier in the month, and required to appear for a deposition one week later. Considering the time constraints on the committee—the subjects of these subpoenas are almost certain to drag every possible appeal through the courts and engage in other tactics to delay compliance—even giving the subjects until Oct. 7 to turn over documents may seem overly generous. However, the subpoenas are regarded as “swift” by outside observers, and giving brief, but reasonable, time limits may help the subpoenas survive inevitable court challenges more quickly.
The list of document requests sent out by the committee was extensive. However, it doesn’t look as if there will be a need to match that list with subpoenas. Reports have indicated that the National Archives has already produced requested documents related to a number of federal agencies, and President Biden is currently evaluating two groups of documents related to the Trump White House with indications that these will also be turned over to the committee.
Since the list of those who got requests includes a number of previous members of Trump’s White House and campaign staff—along with almost every adult member of his family—there are good reasons to expect that these subpoenas are just the start. But there are also good reasons the committee started with these four.
As reported back in June, Mark Meadows was at the center of multiple schemes to “nullify” the election and allow Trump to remain in charge. That included efforts to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" votes, communications with Republican members of Congress, and a fantastical scheme in which Meadows pushed the Department of Justice to investigate whether Italy had interfered with the election using satellites.
Scavino is known to have been close to Trump throughout Jan. 6—making him, as the Committee notes, a direct witness to Trump’s movements and actions on that day. The former deputy chief of staff was also involved in coordinating planning of the Jan. 6 rally and promoting the event to Trump supporters. Among his meetings with Trump was one on Jan. 5 where they schemed on how to get members of Congress to block the count of electoral votes.
Patel was a former staffer of Devin Nunes who Trump not only moved into a top role at the Pentagon following the election, it was Patel who acted to prevent President Biden’s incoming team from receiving the standard briefings on military situations. He was also known to distort information provided to Biden’s team, to make it seem as if Trump had been more successful fighting against terrorists. In mid-December, Trump attempted to insert Patel as the deputy director of the CIA, but the plan stumbled on objections from then-Director Gina Haspel.
And Bannon … Steve Bannon was all over the planning for Jan. 6. Bannon was one of the chief organizers of the “March for Trump” events on that day, coordinated with those who created the “Stop the Steal” rally, and repeatedly communicated with Trump on how to best approach blocking the official recording of the electoral vote. That included Bannon texting Trump to get Pence back from vacation so he could be pressured into doing what was necessary. And it included meeting with a number of groups on Jan. 5 where he told them “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.” If there was any doubt about what kind of “hell” Bannon was talking about, listeners to his War Room podcast got to hear him talking about how he wanted to execute Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Chris Wray.
"I'd put the heads on pikes. Right. I'd put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats," said Bannon. "You either get with the program or you are gone."
In going straight for Meadows, Scavino, Patel, and Bannon, the House Select Committee is not only moving as fast as they can, but giving a signal to everyone involved that they’re not afraid to go directly after Trump’s core team. These subpoenas were first. They won’t be the last.