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The U.S. House Select Committee Investigation of the January 6 Attack on the Capitol: Part 3

Elections & Politics Policy Brief #30 | By: Erika Shannon | October 27, 2021

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Policy Summary

As the investigation into the January 6th Capitol Riots continues, it is becoming clear that getting to the bottom of that day’s events will be no easy task. There were already hurdles to overcome with the formation of a committee to investigate the day’s events; now that the committee is working towards piecing together what truly happened, more obstacles stand in the way. While companies like Facebook are working with the panel to turn over requested information, other subpoenaed parties are doing their best to avoid speaking with the congressional panel.

Former Trump Administration Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has ignored the subpoena issued by the House Select Committee. If Bannon continues to refuse to comply with their investigation, the Committee will be holding him in contempt of Congress. A 26-page contempt report has already been issued wherein the panel documented its repeated attempts to make contact with Bannon regarding his testimony. According to Bannon, he has executive privilege in these matters, meaning that a president can keep certain documents or discussions with advisers private. However, since there is a new sitting president, the House Select Committee argues that protection rests with President Biden, who has already waived executive privilege when releasing an earlier document per the panel’s request.

Besides dealing with those who refuse to cooperate, the House Select Committee is now being sued by former President Donald Trump in an attempt to stop documents related to the riots from being handed over to the panel. Trump himself has been urging former Trump Administration officials not to comply with the subpoenas, again citing executive privilege. Donald Trump is clearly unfamiliar with the idea surrounding executive privilege; since he is not the current sitting president, executive privilege no longer pertains to this situation. The move is not a shocking one coming from Trump, as turning to the courts and filing lawsuit was a move used by him throughout his presidency to keep potentially embarrassing documents out of the public realm. In a statement from Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson, he makes it clear that the panel will continue to fight their way to the records they need, regardless of Trump’s efforts to delay or obstruct their probe.

Policy Analysis

Though it seems that making any headway is impossible, the House Select Committee is doing their best to continue to gather any relevant information. Earlier this month, the committee issued subpoenas related to the “Stop the Steal” rally that took place on January 6th.

The subpoenas seek depositions from Ali Abdul Akbar AKA Ali Alexander, and Nathan Martin, who are connected to permit applications for the rally that day. The committee wants records from those two, as well as records from Stop the Steal LLC, an organization that was affiliated with the event.
Recently, the House Select Committee also subpoenaed former Department of Justice Official Jeffrey Clark. Clark was allegedly involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and interrupt the peaceful transfer of power. The committee’s subpoena seeks deposition testimony, as well as records, from Clark as part of their probe into the January 6th Capitol riots. There is skepticism of whether or not he will appear at his deposition, or ignore the subpoena the way Steve Bannon did.

 

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The congressional committee has a long way to go before their investigation is over, but there are some people who are willing to help it along. There are reports that at least five former members of the Trump Administration have voluntarily spoken with the House Committee. When they were texted or emailed by counsel for the committee asking if they were interesting in speaking with them, these five former staffers came forward. It is assumed that some of they may have information worth sharing, while others are hoping to avoid any legal repercussions in the future.

It has been a roller coaster ride from the start for this House Select Committee, and it will likely continue to be as the investigation continues. There is still work to be done, and it is clear that not all who were involved in that day’s events are going to come forward of their own free will. The committee will continue to figure out how to handle those who refuse to cooperate so that they can compile and complete their report.

This brief is part of an ongoing series on the Select Committee’s investigation; further updates will be provided as the investigation continues.

Engagement Resources​

To see the latest news from the House Select Committee, visit their homepage.

To submit a tip to the House Select Committee, click here.

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