US Capitol attack committee subpoenas Trump lawyers, including Giuliani
A House special committee has demanded documents and testimony from the "war room" team involved in the effort to overturn the election result.
The US congressional committee investigating the Capitol attack has issued subpoenas to several of Donald Trump's top lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani, as it investigates whether the former president oversaw a criminal conspiracy on January 6, 2021.
On Tuesday, the House panel subpoenaed four members of Trump's legal team: the former president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his associate Boris Epshteyn, as well as Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis, who all defended Trump's flimsy voter fraud claims as he sought to overturn the election result.
The chairman of the select committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson, said in a statement that the subpoenas were issued to the four Trump lawyers because they were "in direct contact with the former president about attempts to stop the counting of electoral votes."
The select committee's action amounts to yet another dramatic escalation in the investigation, as the orders require Trump's lawyers to produce documents and testimony, implying that the panel believes the lawyers may have acted illegally.
Giuliani tests under oath
The committee's most aggressive move was to order Giuliani to testify under oath about his communications with Trump and Republican members of Congress about strategies for delaying or overturning election results.
Thompson stated in the subpoena letter to Giuliani that House investigators also wanted to question him about his efforts to undermine Biden's win, including urging Trump to illegally seize voting machines and pressuring state legislators to decertify their results.
Epshteyn involved in misinformation campaign
Epshteyn is the former communications director for Trump's 2016 inauguration, where he worked alongside Giuliani in the days leading up to January 6 as Trump desperately sought a second term.
Thompson said in the subpoena letter to Epshteyn that the panel wanted to ask about his discussions with Trump, citing a Guardian report about how Trump pressed his lieutenants at the Willard hotel to prevent Biden's certification hours before the Capitol attack.
According to the Guardian report, there was a direct line between the White House and Trump's "war room" at the Willard Hotel, and Trump personally pushed to stop Biden's certification, which was also the alleged goal of the Capitol attack.
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The select committee also pointed out that Epshteyn was involved in the former president's disinformation campaign about widespread voter fraud, as he attended a Trump campaign press conference promoting lies about a stolen election.
According to a source close to the investigation, House investigators have been considering subpoenas for Giuliani and Ephsteyn for weeks. The fact that the panel issued the orders suggests that they suspect criminality, which could defeat claims of attorney-client privilege.
“The attorney-client privilege does not operate to shield participants in a crime from an investigation into a crime,” Congressman Jamie Raskin, a member of the select committee, said of a subpoena to Trump’s lawyers in an earlier interview with The Guardian.
Powell accused of spreading misinformation
Thompson, the select committee's chairman, also suggested that the panel's investigation into Giuliani and Epshteyn would focus on Trump's calls to the Willard Hotel, saying that the panel would review White House call detail records held by the National Archives.
He stated in the subpoena letter to Powell, who is already sanctioned by a federal judge for misconduct in connection with her lawsuits challenging Biden's victory, that the panel wanted the evidence she used to spread misinformation about the election.
Thompson added that the panel was also interested in her role as an outside lawyer for the Trump campaign, in which she urged Trump to seize voting machines across the country to find evidence that foreign adversaries had hacked the machines and caused Trump's defeat. There was no such evidence discovered.
The select committee said in its subpoena letter to Ellis that it was interested in her efforts to overturn the election results as well as her two memos that incorrectly stated that then-Vice President Mike Pence could reject or delay counting electoral votes for Biden on January 6.
It gave the four lawyers until the beginning of February to produce documents requested by its investigators and to appear for depositions later that month. Giuliani, Powell, and Ellis were unavailable for comment. Epshteyn did not respond.