Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, said on Sunday that subpoenaing former President Donald Trump in the probe is not “off limits.”
The Mississippi Democrat appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” where host Margaret Brennan asked him if the committee sees “any direct line” to the former president that would lead to a subpoena.
“Well, let me say that nobody is off limits,” Thompson said. “We will be, on an ongoing basis, issuing subpoenas to various individuals around the country. If we have enough evidence ― and obviously we are pursuing evidence ― but if the evidence leads to former President Trump or anyone else … We will go forward with it.”
“So, you know, it’s an investigation. We’re not trying to get ahead of the investigation. We’ll follow the facts and circumstances as they present themselves,” he continued.
Followers of the then-president stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 with the intent of harming lawmakers and overturning the 2020 election, which Trump lost. The deadly attack followed a nearby rally during which Trump told the tens of thousands of attendees to intimidate Vice President Mike Pence into refusing to certify the election for Joe Biden.
Thompson told Brennan on Sunday that there’s “no question” the insurrection was premeditated, bringing up the committee’s September subpoena on Steve Bannon, a onetime Trump aide suspected to have played a role in planning the attack.
“The worst kept secret in America is that Donald Trump invited individuals to come to Washington on Jan. 6, he said all hell would break loose,” the chairman said, incorrectly attributing Bannon’s quote to Trump. “Steve Bannon was part of the conversation and the promotion of Jan. 6 ― the very podcast we just listened to talks about it.”
“Steve Bannon was in the war room, and he was in the Willis Hotel doing a lot of things. So that’s why we subpoenaed him, that’s why we felt it was important for the committee and staff to depose him,” he said.
Thompson was referring to Bannon’s podcast episode from one day before the rally, in which he told listeners, “It’s not going to happen like you think it’s going to happen.”
“It’s going to be quite extraordinarily different. All I can say is, strap in,” Bannon said on his show. “You made this happen, and tomorrow it’s game day. So strap in. Let’s get ready.”
The subpoena on Bannon demanded that he turn over records of his communications with the Trump White House, along with documentation from around the time of the insurrection. He was also ordered to appear before the committee on Oct. 14, but refused to comply with both requests as instructed by Trump. The full House voted to recommend criminal charges against Bannon over his repeated refusal to cooperate.
Trump filed a lawsuit against the National Archives and the committee last week accusing the members of conducting an “illegal fishing expedition,” claiming that the documents the committee has requested are protected under executive privilege ― a vaguely defined term that says presidents have the right to shield information from the public if it could hurt the institution of the presidency.
Biden decided against asserting executive privilege when the committee requested archived documentation from the White House related to the events of Jan. 6. The president said his decision was based on the fact that the release of such documentation is in the nation’s interest of protecting democracy.