Four of Donald Trump’s most loyal men have been summoned to testify at the US Congressional CPI investigating the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol. They are: Mark Meadows, former Chief of Staff; Daniel Scavino, White House digital strategist in the Republican term; Steve Bannon, influential ultra-right ideologue; and Kashyap Patel, chief adviser to former Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. The special commission of inquiry, made up of 11 Democratic and 2 Republican deputies, demanded a series of documents and asked the former employees to prepare to testify to the parliamentarians in mid-October, on a date yet to be defined.
Bennie Thompson, the deputy who presides over the CPI, sent the four former presidential advisers a letter in which he says he is looking for “facts, circumstances and causes” of the revolt. The document says their testimony will help piece together the puzzle of what happened that day, and Thompson believes the witnesses can provide key information for investigators.
Democrats want to shake Bannon’s role in the incidents. The radical adviser attended a Jan. 5 meeting at the Willard Hotel, a few meters from the White House. At the meeting, a strategy was planned to hinder the confirmation of Joe Biden as president-elect. “It’s going to be a godsend,” Bannon said according to some witnesses. The founder of the Breitbart website, a media key to Trump’s momentum, was forced to leave the Executive in August 2017, but he never stopped influencing the tycoon. Proof of this, Democrats consider, was his communications with the president a week before the Jan. 6 events. Donald Trump, on the other hand, pardoned Bannon on the last day of his presidency for alleged fraud.
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Meadows, who took over as chief of staff in March 2020, was called on for pressuring the Department of Justice and some local authorities, such as New Mexico, to investigate baseless allegations of alleged electoral fraud that would have given the victory to the Democratic hopeful in the November 2020 elections. Democratic lawmakers say they have “reliable evidence” that throughout Jan. 6 he communicated “non-stop” with Kashyap Patel, who had arrived at the Pentagon just two months earlier.
Scavino, in turn, was with Trump on January 5, at a meeting where some options to prevent recognition of Biden’s electoral victory were discussed. The official, one of the very few survivors within the Cabinet after four years of layoffs and exchanges, was in charge of managing the White House’s social media and digital strategy. On January 6, say the CPI Democrats, he tweeted messages from the headquarters of the presidency. Part of the information cited by the committee is included in the latest book by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costas.
The summons, sent out on Thursday, are part of a more aggressive strategy by the commission of inquiry to explain such violent acts in one of Washington’s holiest places. Democratic deputies have already asked the White House for information and even requested the breaking of telephone secrecy and social networks of members of the mob that left five dead. Republicans denounced this intrusion.
Former President Trump said he will fight these requests arguing a privilege of the chief executive to keep confidential communications and discussions he had as chairman with some of his close advisers.
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