House Panel Subpoenas Roger Stone and Alex Jones in Capitol Riot Inquiry
Investigators summoned five more allies of former President Donald J. Trump as they dug further into the planning and financing of rallies before the Jan. 6 attack.,
House Panel Subpoenas Roger Stone and Alex Jones in Capitol Riot Inquiry
Investigators summoned five more allies of former President Donald J. Trump as they dug further into the planning and financing of rallies before the Jan. 6 attack.
The political operative Roger J. Stone Jr. greeting supporters at a Trump rally in Washington on Jan. 5, the day before the Capitol riot.Credit…Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6 issued five new subpoenas on Monday, targeting allies of former President Donald J. Trump who helped draw crowds to Washington before the riot, including the political operative Roger J. Stone Jr. and the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
The subpoenas, which come after the committee has interviewed more than 200 witnesses, indicate that investigators are intent on learning the details of the planning and financing of rallies that drew Mr. Trump’s supporters to Washington based on his lies of a stolen election, fueling the violence that engulfed Congress and delayed the formalization of President Biden’s victory.
“We need to know who organized, planned, paid for and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee.
Mr. Stone promoted his attendance at the rallies on Jan. 5 and 6, and solicited support to pay for security through the website stopthesteal.org. While in Washington, he used members of the Oath Keepers as personal security guards; at least one of them has been indicted on charges that he was involved in the Capitol attack.
Mr. Jones reportedly helped organize the rally at the Ellipse near the White House that immediately preceded the riot, including by facilitating a donation to provide what he described as “80 percent” of the funding, the House committee said. Mr. Jones has said that White House officials told him that he was to lead a march to the Capitol, where Mr. Trump would meet the group and speak, according to the committee.
Mr. Stone and Mr. Jones were among the group of Trump allies meeting in and around the Willard Intercontinental Hotel near the White House the day before the riot.
Mr. Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, was seen flashing his signature Nixon victory sign to supporters as members of the Oath Keepers protected him. He was also photographed on Jan. 5 with Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser who has also been subpoenaed, but Mr. Stone has claimed that he was leaving town as rioters stormed the Capitol.
Mr. Stone said he had decided against a plan to “lead a march” from the White House Ellipse to the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a video posted on social media.
Mr. Jones conducted an interview of Mr. Flynn from the Willard on Jan. 5 and was then seen among the crowd of Mr. Trump’s supporters the next day, amplifying false claims of widespread fraud with a bullhorn.
The committee is also demanding documents and testimony from Dustin Stockton and his fiancee, Jennifer L. Lawrence, who reportedly assisted in organizing a series of rallies after the election advancing false claims about its outcome.
Understand the Claim of Executive Privilege in the Jan. 6. Inquiry
A key issue yet untested. Donald Trump’s power as former president to keep information from his White House secret has become a central issue in the House’s investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Amid an attempt by Mr. Trump to keep personal records secret and the indictment of Stephen K. Bannon for contempt of Congress, here’s a breakdown of executive privilege:
What is executive privilege? It is a power claimed by presidents under the Constitution to prevent the other two branches of government from gaining access to certain internal executive branch information, especially confidential communications involving the president or among his top aides.
What is Trump’s claim? Former President Trump has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the disclosure of White House files related to his actions and communications surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. He argues that these matters must remain a secret as a matter of executive privilege.
Is Trump’s privilege claim valid? The constitutional line between a president’s secrecy powers and Congress’s investigative authority is hazy. Though a judge rejected Mr. Trump’s bid to keep his papers secret, it is likely that the case will ultimately be resolved by the Supreme Court.
Is executive privilege an absolute power? No. Even a legitimate claim of executive privilege may not always prevail in court. During the Watergate scandal in 1974, the Supreme Court upheld an order requiring President Richard M. Nixon to turn over his Oval Office tapes.
May ex-presidents invoke executive privilege? Yes, but courts may view their claims with less deference than those of current presidents. In 1977, the Supreme Court said Nixon could make a claim of executive privilege even though he was out of office, though the court ultimately ruled against him in the case.
Is Steve Bannon covered by executive privilege? This is unclear. Mr. Bannon’s case could raise the novel legal question of whether or how far a claim of executive privilege may extend to communications between a president and an informal adviser outside of the government.
What is contempt of Congress? It is a sanction imposed on people who defy congressional subpoenas. Congress can refer contempt citations to the Justice Department and ask for criminal charges. Mr. Bannon has been indicted on contempt charges for refusing to comply with a subpoena that seeks documents and testimony.
Mr. Stockton was reportedly concerned that the rally at the Ellipse would lead to a march to the Capitol that would mean “possible danger,” which he said “felt unsafe.” These concerns were escalated to Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, the committee said.
The committee also issued a subpoena to Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, who reportedly solicited nonprofit organizations to conduct a social media and radio advertising campaign encouraging attendance at the rally at the Ellipse and promoting unsupported claims about the election result, the committee said.
The subpoenas issued on Monday require that all five people produce documents and testimony by mid-December. The committee has issued 40 subpoenas in total, investigating everything from the planning and financing of the “Stop the Steal” effort to Mr. Trump’s every movement as the violence spread on Jan. 6.
The subpoenas come as the committee is struggling to compel some allies of Mr. Trump to comply with its investigation. Stephen K. Bannon, a former top aide to Mr. Trump, has been charged with federal crimes after refusing to comply with his subpoena, while members of the committee have said that they are considering recommending contempt of Congress charges against two other potential witnesses: Mr. Meadows and Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department lawyer involved in Mr. Trump’s plans to overturn the election.