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Jan. 6 Select Committee Probe Expands To Trump And Top Officials In A Wave Of Demands

Reps. Bennie Thompson (right) and Liz Cheney, joined by fellow committee members, speak to the media after a July 27 hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Chip Somodevilla
Getty Images
Reps. Bennie Thompson (right) and Liz Cheney, joined by fellow committee members, speak to the media after a July 27 hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Updated August 25, 2021 at 8:50 PM ET

The House select committee charged with investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has issued a wave of record requests targeting communications by former President Donald Trump and his top officials in the lead-up to the deadly riot.

It marks the most widespread list of demands since the siege, directing letters to eight federal entities, including the National Archives and Records Administration, which is charged with maintaining records for past White House administrations. The demands could be followed by subpoenas.

They target communications by Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials as well as White House visitor and call logs related to the day of the attack. Other agencies also included in the wave of requests include the Justice, Defense and Interior departments.

"The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol is examining the facts, circumstances, and causes of the January 6th attack," Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement announcing the plans. "Our Constitution provides for a peaceful transfer of power, and this investigation seeks to evaluate threats to that process, identify lessons learned and recommend laws, policies, procedures, rules, or regulations necessary to protect our republic in the future."

The agencies have two weeks to comply with the requests to turn over documents by Sept. 9, Thompson added. These are also renewed and expanded upon demands issued by other committees this year.

The committee also encouraged the chief U.S. archivist, David Ferriero, to use his authority to expedite the requests.

"This is our first request for materials, and we anticipate additional requests as our investigation continues," Thompson's Aug. 25 letter to Ferriero noted.

In a statement, Trump said: "The Leftist 'select committee' has further exposed itself as a partisan sham and waste of taxpayer dollars with a request that's timed to distract Americans from historic and global catastrophes brought on by the failures of Joe Biden and the Democrats."

Other communications for former officials targeted in the document requests include Mark Meadows, the former Trump chief of staff; Rudy Giuliani, Trump's former personal lawyer; and Ivanka Trump, daughter and former senior adviser.

The committee also goes into communications from last year involving Trump officials and top Republicans who figured largely in presidential election results in various states, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The committee also directed other agencies such as the Justice Department to turn over records linked with the attack and the runup to that day's violence, including the sharing of intelligence, Capitol security and the role of efforts to overturn the results of the presidential elections. Other agencies facing new requests include the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center.

The requests also target figures who have been charged with helping spread misinformation ahead of Jan. 6, including Michael Flynn, the former White House official pardoned by Trump, and controversial Texas media personality Alex Jones.

The requests mark the first major action since a gripping July hearing for the nine-person committee, which includes seven Democrats and two Republicans: Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Thompson, the panel's leader, also chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.

The plans come in the midst of a hiring spree for the panel, which now has more than a half-dozen staffers. Earlier this month, the committee hired its chief investigative counsel, Timothy Heaphy, a former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia.

This move also followed the addition of former GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman of Virginia and Homeland Security official Joe Maher as senior staff.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.