Four of his former lieutenants are being subpoenaed, but apparently Trump wants them to just ignore it.
If the Trump administration was good for anything other than spreading misery and chaos in its wake, it was for perfectly illustrating how much of politics in Washington is held together gentlemen’s agreements and tradition. For all the talk of “guardrails” and “adults in the room,” former President Trump and his most enthusiastic enablers showed the country time and time again that wheels of law and order can only turn when enough people agree to accept that they exist in the first place. The best way to get away with all sorts of crimes, it turns out, is to simply do them and act like it’s fine.
Despite being out of office for coming up on a full year, it seems as the former president is still flexing this fundamental truism for his own personal gain — this time by allegedly instructing a number of his administration’s top lieutenants to defy congressional subpoenas issued by the House’s committee to investigation the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt on the U.S. Capitol complex.
According to The Guardian, former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Trump social media guru Dan Scavino, sweaty, multi-shirted svengali Steve Bannon, and longtime Trump natsec ghoul Kash Patel have all be told to simply ignore the committee’s demand for cooperation and request for documents, ostensibly due by Oct. 7, ahead of depositions in the coming weeks. Instead, The Guardian’s unnamed source within the Trump camp explained, the quartet of alleged insurrection-aiders have been instructed to claim privacy on the grounds of executive privilege.
It’s a legally dubious assertion, seeing as how the Department of Justice already backed off from asserting executive privilege for the committee’s investigation. Instead, Trump’s reported order makes sense if you consider it in light of his camp’s previous refusals to participate in various congressional investigations and demands. The goal isn’t to score a legal win (although that’d be nice), but instead to simply delay, derail, and gum up the works for as long as possible, thereby draining precious resources and time, all the while amping up the MAGA hoards to see this as just another personal attack on the oh-so-innocent Trump.
Members of the House committee, meanwhile, are left with two options: Move ahead without the requested cooperation of the Trump team, effectively ceding him the victory, or escalate things out of the realm of congressional niceties and into the arena of criminality.
Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson (D), chair of the Jan. 6 investigation committee, seems inclined to go the latter route, telling reporters last week that for those who refuse to appear voluntarily: “We’ll do criminal referrals and let that process work out.”
It seems as if Thompson might get his wish sooner than not, too. While three of the four requested witnesses have reportedly been given their congressional subpoenas, Scavino is reportedly hiding out to avoid being physically served. Does this mean there’s a chance we’ll see some of the Trump administration’s top movers and shakers perp-walked by U.S. Marshals in the not-too-distant future? Only time will tell.