A member of the Jan. 6 panel said he doesn’t expect the best Trump allies to work together any time soon.
“I think if it’s not the… [Trump] lawsuit, they would come up with something else to hang their hats on,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), one of the nine members of the committee. “So we don’t put a lot of stock behind it.”
The panel has: has yielded approximately 200 interviews to date, including some in response to subpoenas. January 6 committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the indictment of Bannon has already elicited some cooperation from less senior Trump allies.
“I think it’s definitely had an impact on people’s willingness to cooperate, on people’s willingness to follow the law,” he said. “Certainly there are others who, I think, have been encouraged to work together by seeing that the road from obstruction can lead to prison.”
Schiff said a conviction by Bannon would help underscore that threat, but “the most profound impact” of the charge of contempt for Trump’s former chief strategist has already happened.
But ensuring the cooperation of Meadows, Scavino and other high-ranking Trump White House officials may be impossible under the investigators’ tight schedule as it pushes for the work to be completed before the 2022 election. And the January 6 panel’s challenge is compounded by the fact that it… subpoenaed a slew of other senior Trump administration officials since, adding to the workload.
Here’s the status of talks between the committee and its first, biggest subpoena targets:
Dan Scavino: The former president’s social media manager was the quietest of the bunch. His lawyer, former home attorney Stan Brand, has said little about the case. For a while, the commission couldn’t even track down Scavino to serve him with a subpoena.
Scavino is one of the small group of people who was with Trump from the first day of his campaign to his last day in the White House. And while Scavino is active on Twitter and Instagram, he eschews traditional media interviews.
Scavino has yet to provide documents or testimony to the Jan. 6 commission that could allow him to float under the radar as lawmakers train their public anger at Meadows.
Mark Weiden: As Trump’s White House chief of staff on the day of the attack, Meadows has detailed knowledge of how the president viewed the violence. His claim to executive privilege is considered the strongest of all subpoenaed to date. Despite this, the Biden White House has said the president will not assert any privilege on Trump’s behalf to protect Meadows from impeachment. Federal courts are now hearing arguments over whether the former president can assert that privilege, since Biden has renounced it. And most experts believe Trump’s prospects in those lawsuits look bleak.
Meanwhile, Meadows and his attorney negotiated with the committee to find a way to share some information without violating the privilege Trump wants to assert. George Terwilliger, Meadows’ attorney, wrote: a Nov. 13 Washington Post opinion piece that he had “weeks of fruitless negotiations” trying to find a compromise. He wrote that Meadows offered to answer written questions if the select panel withdraws its subpoena, but that the committee would not play. “[T]the only way to a solution can be through the courts’, Terwilliger concluded.
The Jan. 6 panel chair, Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), indicated that he did not believe Terwilliger’s opinion and that the offer of written answers was part of the formal negotiation process.
“An opinion piece doesn’t make sense in our committee. I mean, I didn’t even see it,” he said in a brief interview last week.
And on Nov 12Thompson and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the panel’s vice chair, said they were considering holding Meadows in disdain.
Greenhouse Patel: Patel, formerly a top Republican staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, had the former president’s ear at crucial moments during his tenure. Trump placed Patel in increasingly prominent roles in the final year of his tenure, ending up with a senior position at the Pentagon.
In a statement dated October 8, the committee’s leadership said Patel and Meadows were “engaged” with investigators. While the lawmakers’ tone on Meadows has changed significantly, they have not publicly criticized Patel.
Meanwhile, in a Nov. 15 interview with Megyn Kelly, Patel said the committee had abandoned congressional standards when they subpoenaed him.
“The Jan 6 commission has issued subpoenas for vendetta,” he said. “They haven’t called or emailed me or my lawyers. We’ve all done congressional investigations. There is a right way to do it, and there is a political way to do it. They just went straight to the subpoena and said, ‘You know what this is going to do; Kash will have to come off his mission and spend $150,000 on attorneys.”
He went on to say he has “nothing to hide” about that day.
“I will be telling the American people the truth all day on Jan. 6, especially the involvement of the DOD,” Patel said last week.
But he also jabbed Schiff, who often squabbled with his former boss Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) during the congressional investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
“We have used the facts. They used politics,” Patel said of the Democrats. “They’re using politics again to enforce vendetta subpoenas because that’s how petty they are.”
Kelly asked Patel if he would testify if the Supreme Court ruled against Trump. He replied, “I will follow the law.”
A Patel spokesperson, who was approached for comment on the story, declined to comment on the status of his discussions with the panel.
“We continue to act in good faith and hope the committee will do the same,” said Patel’s spokesman. “We are also disappointed by the committee’s apparent violation of our agreement to keep our ongoing discussions confidential.”
Steve Bannon: Bannon turned himself in to federal authorities last week to face two charges of criminal contempt for Congress, which are now pending before Judge Carl Nichols. Nichols, a Trump appointee who cracked down on the Jan. 6 defendants, refused to support Bannon’s drive to a months-long lead up to a possible trial. But the judge also opposed pressure from the Justice Department to step on the accelerator.
In early December, parties will meet again in the case to set a clearer timeline. Even if Bannon is convicted, he will not have to submit to testimony or submit documents. Still, a conviction to other witnesses would signal that there could be real consequences for stopping the select panel.
“Steve has always done things Steve’s way,” Patel told Kelly about Bannon. “And I think everyone knew he was going to do it this way.”
What’s next: Monday’s series of subpoenas targeting the president’s outside agents shows that the Jan. 6 commission isn’t even done sending subpoenas — let alone enforcing them. But over the whole affair hangs the reality that even Congress’ most aggressive enforcement tool has yet to urge Bannon to sit down for a statement.
It may also not work on Meadows or Scavino.