Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and a suite of other aides are being forced to testify before a grand jury hearing evidence in the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into Jan. 6, 2021, rejecting former President Trump’s claims of executive privilege.
The order requires testimony from a number of Trump aides, including some that have already appeared before the grand jury but declined to answer questions about their conversations with the former president.
The decision is a turning point for Meadows, who dodged a subpoena from the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 after the panel’s work identified him as a key player in a suite of different efforts to keep Trump in office after losing the 2020 election. The DOJ declined to prosecute Meadows for contempt of Congress, but special counsel Jack Smith — appointed by the department to oversee the investigation — subpoenaed him in February in connection with his criminal probe.
Trump communications guru Dan Scavino, who the DOJ likewise declined to prosecute after he bucked a committee subpoena, was also included in Howell’s order and must testify in the criminal probe.
Aide Stephen Miller, former Department of Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and former national security adviser Robert O’Brien were also all directed to testify, as were John McEntee, then director of the Presidential Personnel Office, and Nick Luna, an assistant to Trump.
Trump’s team can appeal the decision, though a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld another Howell order, one that directed Trump’s attorney in the probe into documents held at his Mar-a-Lago property to answer questions about his conversations with the former president.
“The DOJ is continuously stepping far outside the standard norms in attempting to destroy the long accepted, long held, Constitutionally based standards of attorney-client privilege and executive privilege,” a Trump spokesman said in a statement.
“There is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump,” the spokesman added. ”The deranged Democrats and their comrades in the mainstream media are corrupting the legal process and weaponizing the justice system in order to manipulate public opinion, because they are clearly losing the political battle.”
An attorney for Meadows did not respond to request for comment.
Meadows could have valuable insight for prosecutors, as he directed a number of White House meetings with GOP lawmakers and coordinated with officials at the Department of Justice and in Georgia. He also reportedly burned papers in his office “once or twice a week,” according to testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.
The former chief of staff turned over more than 2,300 texts to the House committee, providing fodder for hearings that showcased the alarm of numerous Republican lawmakers as rioters pushed their way into the Capitol, and concern from Trump family members and even Fox News employees eager for the former president to call off his supporters.
The Jan. 6 panel in the House had subpoenaed Scavino over reports suggesting he was with Trump on Jan. 5 as his team weighed how to convince lawmakers to vote against certifying President Biden’s electoral victory.
Scavino also promoted the Jan. 6 rally and may have had outtakes of recordings of the video Trump sent to supporters later that day encouraging them to go home, the panel said.
This story was updated at 2:33 p.m.
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