Former President Donald Trump has informed 4 former senior advisors not to worry about a federal probe into the January 6 assault on Congress, US media reported on Thursday.
According to Politico and The Washington Post, ex-advisors Mark Meadows, Kash Patel, Dan Scavino, and Steve Bannon were urged not to cooperate with the formal House investigation into the riot by Trump supporters, which critics have labeled an outright insurrection.
The experiences emerged only hours after a stunning Senate report documenting Trump’s efforts to manipulate the Justice Department and overturn his November electoral loss to Joe Biden was released.
In a letter to the four, Trump’s lawyers argued that executive privilege and attorney-client privilege protect his communications and records from disclosure.
The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack has called up the four ex-advisers, as well as other people involved in the unrest, to assist it in piecing together the links between Trump’s White House and the hundreds of Trump supporters who forced their way into Congress, halting a joint session meant to confirm Biden as president.
Meadows was the White House chief of staff at the time, Scavino handled Trump’s social media, Bannon was a former political strategist who remained active in Republican operations, and Patel was a White House national security advisor who Trump appointed to a senior Pentagon position following his election loss.
The four were instructed by the committee on January 6 to turn over papers and attend interviews with investigators the following week.
Legal experts have questioned Trump’s ability to invoke executive privilege over his activities in his final weeks in office to keep his advisers from speaking out.
However, the issue has not been thoroughly proven in court, and the White House has stated that it will waive privilege on Trump’s records to some extent to assist with the investigation.
And Trump’s resistance may push the committee into legal battles, potentially extending the investigation.
“The former president is still trying to stonewall subpoenas,” committee member Adam Schiff said in a tweeted statement.
“This time, lawbreaking witnesses must weigh the prospect of criminal prosecution,” he warned.“Americans deserve answers. We will make sure they get them.”