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January 6 Committee subpoenas Trump allies who helped plan "Stop the Steal" rally

Reflecting on the Jan. 6 riot one year later
Reflecting on the Jan. 6 riot one year later 03:15

The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is directing its latest batch of subpoenas to Trump allies who allegedly helped plan the former president's rally at the Ellipse hours before the riot. 

The panel on Tuesday issued a subpoena to former White House advisor Ross Worthington, whom the committee believes to have helped draft former President Donald Trump's speech at the Ellipse on January 6. 

"You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong,"  Trump said at the Ellipse before thousands of his supporters broke into the Capitol. "We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore." 

The speech had been key to the House's impeachment of Trump for incitement of an insurrection. Many of the protesters in attendance began walking toward the Capitol as he delivered it. 

Capital Breach Records
In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo with the White House in the background, President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin / AP

"Protests on that day escalated into an attack on our democracy. Protesters became rioters who carried out a violent attempt to derail the peaceful transfer of power," committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement. 

The panel on Tuesday also issued subpoenas to Andy Surabian and Arthur Schwartz, both of whom served as advisers to Donald Trump, Jr. In letters to them, committee Thompson said the committee has "reason to believe that you communicated with both organizers and speakers at the rally held on the Ellipse." 

Surabian's lawyer tweeted a statement saying "while we plan on cooperating with the Committee within reason, we are bewildered as to why Mr. Surabian is being subpoenaed in the first place. He had nothing at all to do with the events that took place at the Capitol that day, zero involvement in organizing the rally that preceded it and was off the payroll of the Trump campaign as of November 15, 2020."

The panel set late January and early February deadlines for the trio of Trump allies to hand over documents and sit or appear virtually for depositions. 

The committee has spoken with over 340 individuals in its investigation, including historians, Thompson said. 

The House select committee, created by Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this year, is investigating the January 6 attack, when thousands of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol as Congress counted the electoral votes, a largely ceremonial final step affirming Mr. Biden's victory. Lawmakers were sent fleeing amid the riot, which led to the deaths of five people and the arrests of hundreds more. Trump, who encouraged his supporters to "walk over" to the Capitol during the Stop the Steal rally, was impeached by the House one week later for inciting the riot but was later acquitted by the Senate.

So far, the committee has subpoenaed more than 50 individuals, including Trump's allies, former White House officials, campaign aides and individuals involved in the planning of the rally outside the White House before the Capitol building came under siege. Two top Trump allies, former strategist Steve Bannon and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, have been held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas, and the Justice Department has charged Bannon. Both said they are following instructions from Trump, who has claimed executive privilege. 

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