Several former advisers to Donald Trump are said to testify in a committee of inquiry into the storming of the US Capitol. But that is exactly what the former president is apparently trying to prevent. He invokes the constitution – but his arguments are controversial.
According to media reports, the former US President Donald Trump wants to prevent several of his former advisers from testifying before a congressional committee of inquiry into the storming of the US Capitol on January 6th. The online portal “Politico” and the newspaper “Washington Post” reported that Trump had asked Mark Meadows, Kash Patel, Dan Scavino and Steve Bannon not to contribute anything to the investigation by the US House of Representatives.
Trump’s attorneys reportedly argued in a letter to the four former advisers that Trump’s communications with them and the relevant documents were protected by executive privileges and the protection of attorney-client relationships and should therefore not be made public. A few hours before the media reports appeared, the US Senate had submitted a report on Trump’s attempts at the end of his presidency to undermine the powers of the Justice Department and to fight against his electoral defeat by today’s President Joe Biden.
Trump does not recognize his election defeat in November. He repeated his completely unsubstantiated accusation of massive electoral fraud in front of supporters in Washington on January 6, when Congress wanted to certify Biden’s election victory. Trump called on his audience to march to the Capitol and “fight the hell out of it”.
Litigation could curb investigation
Hundreds of radical Trump supporters stormed the parliament building as a result. Five people were killed in the course of the violence, including a police officer and a Trump supporter who were shot by police.
Meadows was Trump’s chief of staff in the White House at the time. Scavino was involved in Trump’s online networking activities and Patel served as Trump’s national security advisor. The committee also summoned former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who had long since broken with the president in January but continued to play a role in Republican political action.
The parliamentary committee of inquiry into the Capitol storming had asked Meadows, Scavino, Patel and Bannon at the end of September to hand over documents on the matter by yesterday, Thursday. They should appear next week for questioning in Congress. Whether Trump can use executive privileges for his final weeks in office to prevent his ex-advisors from making a statement is legally controversial. Litigation over this could delay Congress investigations into the Capitol Assault.
Democrat Adam Schiff, a member of the investigative committee, warned on Twitter that if witnesses refused to testify, they would face criminal prosecution. “The Americans deserve answers,” emphasized Schiff. “We’ll make sure you get it.”