Jan. 6 Committee has interviewed 150+ people; Trump tries to block nearly half of Committee’s document requests
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Chairman of the January 6 Select Committee Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) told reporters that he signed about 20 subpoenas to be issued imminently. It is not known who the latest batch targets.”Some of the people have been written about. Some of the people haven’t been written about,” Thompson said.
Seven key witnesses have been able to postpone their depositions:
Jeffrey Clark, the former DOJ official who assisted Trump in his attempts to overturn the election, lost his lawyer days before his scheduled interview. It is unclear why he and Robert Driscoll, his former attorney who also happened to represent Russian spy Maria Butina, parted ways. According to the Washington Post, “people familiar with the matter suggested that it had to do with whether Clark would cooperate with the committee’s requests.”
UPDATE: Clark will sit for his deposition today.
Four individuals listed on Jan. 6 rally permits (Justin Caporale, Tim Unes, Caroline Wren, and Maggie Mulvaney), as well as Women for America First founders Amy and Kylie Kremer, have also received “short postponements” of their scheduled depositions. They are all reportedly in communication with the Committee.
The Committee has contacted former Department of Homeland Security officials Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli to request voluntary interviews. It is possible, if they refuse, they’ll be subpoenaed.
Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WI) told CNN that the Committee has interviewed more than 150 people so far. Most recently:
Dustin Stockton, a conservative activist with links to Steve Bannon, was interviewed by the Committee last month. Stockton helped organize one of the groups behind the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the insurrection. He was also involved with Bannon’s “We Build The Wall” effort, resulting in the FBI seizing his cell phone and issuing a subpoena to testify before a grand jury.
An unnamed insurrectionist charged with breaching the Capitol was interviewed last week. At least three convicted rioters have so far “cooperated or signaled their intent to speak to the committee, including Leonard Gruppo, who provided testimony on Oct. 12.” Gruppo is a 28-year Army veteran who pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.
“He gave them specifics about why he went to Washington, what he did and all the events of that day,” [Gruppo’s attorney] said. “Mr. Gruppo is a great man and it was an honor to represent him. Even the greatest of us make mistakes. Former President Trump has left chaos, damage and heart ache in his wake and he has shown no responsibility for all the lies.”
Another unnamed rioter has met with the Committee twice in the past week, describing “knowledge of contacts between GOP officials in a key state Trump lost and allies of the former president in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attack.”
An unnamed individual “who claimed to have information related to associates of Alex Jones” met with the committee, according to Politico. The right-wing conspiracy theorist helped organize the rally that preceded the insurrection and riled up the crowd on its way to the Capitol buildings.
Former Director of Strategic Communications and Press Secretary to the Vice President Alyssa Farah, who resigned after the 2020 election. She has reportedly met with Vice Chair Liz Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger on numerous occasions to provide information.
Farah: So I made the decision back in December to step down because, well, first and foremost, going back to the day after Election Day, I was scheduled to go on TV and was prepared to deliver a message that I was proud of, which is: It looks like we lost, but Republicans were able to turn out record Hispanic support, record African American support. And we helped get a record number of women elected to the House of Representatives.
But I was advised by the campaign to stand down. That wouldn’t be the message. We weren’t going to be acknowledging the loss, and they were going to pursue avenues to reconcile that. And I’m of the mind that it’s foundational to our democracy that if you think there was fraud or irregularities, the president absolutely should pursue legal recourse to determine if there was.
At least five unnamed former Trump administration staffers. “I’ve got good reason to believe a number of them are horrified and scandalized by what took place on January 6th and they want to do their legal duty and their civic duty by coming forward to explain exactly what happened,” Rep. Jamie Raskin said.
Former Trump Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp and her husband, chairman of the American Conservative Union Matt Schlapp, started a “First Amendment fund” for Trump aides subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 Committee.
“Matt Schlapp, Mercedes Schlapp, and Matt Whitaker offered to pay for everyone’s legal fees except” for two people under subpoena, said an attorney familiar with the legal fund. “They’re doing it all through [former acting attorney general Matt] Whitaker’s firm in Kansas City.”
…According to the statement, that fund is designed to “ensure Conservatism remains vibrant despite woke warriors in government who overreach and abuse the people they’re supposed to serve.”
Amy and Kylie Kremer are raising money for their “legal fees and travel” costs related to the investigation through ‘Give Send Go,’ a platform that calls itself the ”#1 Free Christian Crowdfunding Site.”
Court filings last week revealed the details of what Trump is trying to keep hidden from the Jan. 6 Committee, according to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The 750 (of the 1,600) documents that Trump is attempting to use executive privilege to block include (pdf):
- daily presidential diaries, schedules, appointment information showing visitors to the White House, activity logs, call logs, and switchboard shift-change checklists showing calls to the President and Vice President, all specifically for or encompassing January 6, 2021 (30 pages)
- drafts of speeches, remarks, and correspondence concerning the events of January 6, 2021 (13 pages)
- three handwritten notes concerning the events of January 6 from Mr. Meadows’ files (3 pages).
- pages from multiple binders containing proposed talking points for the Press Secretary, interspersed with a relatively small number of related statements and documents, principally relating to allegations of voter fraud, election security, and other topics concerning the 2020 election (629 pages)
- presidential activity calendars and a related handwritten note for January 6, 2021, and for January 2021 generally, including January 6 (11 pages)
- draft text of a presidential speech for the January 6, 2021, Save America March (10 pages)
- a handwritten note from former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ files listing potential or scheduled briefings and telephone calls concerning the January 6 certification and other election issues (2 pages)
- a draft Executive Order on the topic of election integrity (4 pages).
- a draft proclamation honoring the Capitol Police and deceased officers Brian Sicknick and Howard Liebengood, and related emails from the files of the Office of the Executive Clerk (53 pages)
- records from the files of Deputy White House Counsel Patrick Philbin, including a memorandum apparently originating outside the White House regarding a potential lawsuit by the United States against several states President Biden won (4 pages)
- an email chain originating from a state official regarding election-related issues (3 pages)
- talking points on alleged election irregularities in one Michigan county (3 pages)
- a document containing presidential findings concerning the security of the 2020 presidential election and ordering various actions (3 pages)
- notes apparently indicating from whom some of the foregoing were sent (2 pages).
NARA responded (same pdf as above):
As to executive privilege, as explained further below, Plaintiff provides no meaningful analysis as to why any privilege attaching to the specific documents at issue should not give way. President Biden’s determination not to assert or uphold executive privilege here is manifestly reasonable in the face of a congressional investigation into the extraordinary events of January 6. The incumbent President’s judgment plainly outweighs the Executive Branch interest in confidentiality on which Plaintiff relies. Having little to say about the balance of interests, then, Plaintiff focuses his attention on the validity of the legislative inquiry itself, including the legislative purpose and the pertinence of the request to the investigation. We first dispense with these threshold challenges, and then return to the issue at hand: the assertion of executive privilege over certain enumerated documents and the balancing of respective interests. And that balance is clear: President Biden’s sober determination that the public interest requires disclosure is manifestly reasonable, and his to make.
District Judge Tanya Chutkan heard arguments in the case yesterday, grilling Trump lawyer Justin Clark. According to court observers, she seemed skeptical of the Trump team’s arguments:
Chutkan told Trump’s counsel that the Mazars case involved subpoenas for a then-sitting president’s bank records. By contrast, the Jan. 6 Committee is seeking information about “government activity,” Chutkan noted.
“Isn’t it appropriate that Congress may not know what legislation or how much legislation is required until they complete their fact-finding process?” the judge asked.
Throughout her questioning, Chutkan displayed deep skepticism about Trump’s legal arguments, characterizing them as a request for “unprecedented” intrusion by the judicial branch into two co-equal branches of government.
“Wouldn’t that be an intrusion by this branch into the executive and legislative branch’s function?” she asked.
At one point, Judge Chutkan said that “agrees” that the Jan. 6th Committee appears to have cast a wide net in some instances.
“Some of these requests are alarmingly broad, but some of them are very specific,” she said.
Chutkan also pushed back on the idea that a former president gets to dictate what executive privilege protects. “The person best able to determine whether there’s an executive privilege is the current executive,” she said. “In a rare instance, the executive branch and the legislative branch are in agreement. They both agree that the documents should be turned over. I don’t see where the separation of powers argument exists.”