The House select committee investigating the Jan.6 attack on the Capitol last week asked telecommunications and social media companies to keep the files of Donald Trumps’ White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, according to a source close to the case.
The move positions the select committee at the door of the Oval Office as it pursues a wide-ranging investigation into whether Trump and his White House helped plan or had prior knowledge of the insurgency perpetrated by former supporters of the president. .
House select committee investigators signaled their intention to examine the potential involvement of Trump’s White House and House Republicans when they presented a series of document requests and retention requests last week. documents for Trump officials related to the attack on Capitol Hill.
In requests for retention of documents, the select committee asked 35 telecommunications and social media companies to avoid destroying the communications logs of several hundred people, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and 10 House Republicans, in case he issues subpoenas later.
But Meadows’ unreported inclusion on the list of people whose records the select committee wants to keep suggests that the panel will seek more information on the most senior aide in the Trump administration and may knock out every inch of it. west wing in its investigation.
The former chief of staff is among several senior White House officials who may hold the key to unlocking inside information regarding the extent of the former president’s involvement in the attack on Capitol Hill that killed five and nearly 140 injured.
Meadows remained with Trump in the weeks leading up to January 6 as well as the day itself, as the White House strategized to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and ensure that the vice president of the time, Mike Pence, would not certify Joe Bidens the victory.
The White House chief of staff began insurgency day with Trump in the Oval Office, before attending the Save America rally that preceded the attack on Capitol Hill, according to a Trump administration official familiar with his movements.
Meadows then accompanied Trump to the White House with a coterie of assistants and advisers, from where the former president told Republican Senator Ben Sasse he was delighted at the images of his supporters and violent domestic extremists taking storm the Capitol on his behalf.
He then spoke to Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, as well as Kash Patel, the chief of staff to then Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, the official said.
Such closeness to Trump and the chiefs of staff of two key members of the Trump cabinet closely linked to the attack on Capitol Hill suggests that Meadows is likely a privileged witness to the investigation, as far as he can shed light. on Trump’s private thoughts as the violence unfolded.
A spokesperson for the select committee declined to comment on Meadows’ preservation request. But the chairman of the House select committee, Bennie Thompson, had previously told the Guardian that any conversation with Trump would be investigated by the select committee.
The inclusion of Meadows on the list, alongside McCarthy and 10 other far-right House Republicans, nonetheless provides a clearer picture of the contours of the investigation and its overall direction as the select committee accelerates its job.
It also echoes Congressional inquiries into eras past: Richard Nixons, White House Chief of Staff HR Haldeman, has come under scrutiny by the Senate select committee on the Watergate scandal and has was forced to testify about the extent of Nixons involvement.
The interest of the select committees for Mark Meadows is the investigation into the attack on the Capitol on January 6 at the gates of the White House. Photograph: Erin Scott / EPA
But it was not immediately clear which companies had received a request to preserve records for Meadows from the select committee. Some telecommunications and social media companies such as the 8kun online forum popular with QAnon conspiracy theorists have not even received a list of names, the forum’s lawyer said.
Investigators from the House select committee are still collecting evidence, but the committee should schedule its second hearing before the end of the month, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The select committee said on Friday that investigators had received thousands of pages of documents and understood that the National Archives had started the process required by law for the review of presidential files.
Meadowss’ papers, meanwhile, may be of interest to the select committee in other aspects of the Jan.6 origins investigation, an area that falls within the purview of the panels after taking charge of all congressional inquiries into the attack on the Capitol.
The select committee encompassed several inquiries into the Trump administration’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including one by the House Oversight Committee that was examining how Meadows lobbied the Justice Department to investigate allegations unfounded electoral fraud.
The main Republicans under surveillance have embarked on a campaign of threats and intimidation in an attempt to thwart the investigation.
House Republican Minority Leader McCarthy lashed out last week over requests to preserve select committee files and warned the GOP would retaliate against companies that comply when his party takes over majority in the House.
McCarthy argued, without citing a specific law, that it would be illegal for telecommunications and social media companies to comply with registration requests, even though congressional investigators obtained trouble-free phone and communication records. in the past.
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