Oroville Mercury-Register

Trump to invoke executive privilege in Jan. 6 House probe

- By Eric Tucker and Mary Clare Jalonick

WASHINGTON » Donald Trump intends to assert executive privilege in a congressio­nal investigat­ion into the Jan. 6 insurrecti­on at the Capitol, a move that could prevent the testimony of onetime aides, according to a letter sent by lawyers for the former president.

The letter went to at least some witnesses who were subpoenaed by the House committee and it makes clear that Trump plans to invoke privileges meant to protect presidenti­al communicat­ions from being shared with Congress. The substance of the letter was described Thursday by a person who has seen it and who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the letter was not yet public.

Spokespeop­le for Trump did not immediatel­y return messages seeking comment.

The move sets the stage for a likely clash with House Democrats who are investigat­ing the roles of Trump and his allies in the run-up to the riot, when thousands of Trump supporters broke into the Capitol as Congress was certifying the results of the presidenti­al election won by Democrat Joe Biden. The committee is rapidly issuing subpoenas to individual­s who are either connected to Trump or helped plan the massive rally on the morning of Jan. 6 at which he told his supporters to “fight like hell.”

The committee, which was formed over the summer, last month issued subpoenas to Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff; Dan Scavino, the former deputy chief of staff for communicat­ions; Kashyap Patel, a former Defense Department official; and Steve Bannon, a former Trump adviser. It was not immediatel­y clear how those witnesses would respond to Trump’s decision to invoke executive privilege or what consequenc­es they might face if they refuse to cooperate.

Because Trump no longer is in office, he cannot directly assert privilege to keep witnesses quiet or documents out of the hands of Congress. As the current president, Biden will have some say in the matter.

The committee has issued more than a dozen subpoenas to people linked to plans for the Jan. 6 protests, including three additional witnesses announced Thursday. Those individual­s would be less likely to get help from Trump’s executive privilege claims, which would be limited to people who worked in the White House.

The committee chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said subpoenas had gone to Ali Abdul Akbar, also known as Ali Alexander, and Nathan Martin, as well the organizati­on “Stop the Steal, “to learn more about a rally that was planned on the Capitol grounds at the same time as the larger gathering on the National Mall. The committee has subpoenaed 11 other individual­s connected to the planning of that larger rally.

According to the committee, Alexander released a statement after the riot linking “Stop the Steal” to the Capitol rally permit and explaining that the intention was to direct attendees of the larger rally to march to the Capitol.

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