House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's partisan select committee that's investigating events surrounding the Jan. 6 incident at the Capitol plans to intensify efforts to force Trump administration officials to comply with subpoenas, The Washington Post reported.
Lawmakers who sit on the anti-Trump House panel said they are prepared to pursue criminal charges against witnesses, such as former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, who have balked at cooperating.
Former President Donald Trump has urged former aides not to cooperate with the committee. The former president has claimed executive privilege to prevent the release of records from the National Archives, but President Joe Biden dismissed the assertion and instructed that the information be released.
"We are completely of one mind that if people refuse to respond to questions without justification that we will hold them in criminal contempt and refer them to the Justice Department," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the panel, said Tuesday.
The Post said the select committee might issue a subpoena to Jeffrey Clark, a Trump Justice Department official, as early as Wednesday. Clark sought to deploy DOJ resources to support Trump’s claims of election fraud in the 2020 election.
The select committee planned to hold depositions this week with Bannon and former Trump administration officials Mark Meadows (chief of staff), Dan Scavino (deputy chief of staff), and Kash Patel (chief of staff to the acting defense secretary on Jan. 6).
However, it has become unlikely the depositions will occur this week, the Post reported. It also is unclear when they will take place.
A Post source said the committee was contemplating a subpoena for Clark as negotiations between the former DOJ official’s legal team and the select committee did not proceed as rapidly as hoped.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., on Friday released a statement saying they would ''swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral'' for Bannon, who had said he would not comply with a subpoena.
A lawyer for Bannon said Wednesday that the committee's public statements about his client were not productive, the Post reported.
"Their press releases about Steve Bannon are just bluster," said attorney Robert Costello, who added he had reached out to Trump’s lawyer, Justin Clark, to ask about the former president’s position on limited testimony but Clark had not responded.
Of the four former Trump administration officials under the committee's current focus, Bannon is the only one who was not part of the administration on Jan. 6.
The Post said that several legal experts questioned whether executive privilege could shield Bannon from being asked about events that occurred when he was not a White House employee.
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