January 6 panel subpoenas former White House official who helped draft Trump speech

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The committee also subpoenaed two advisers to Donald Trump Jr., who the panel says were “communicating” with the former President’s son and Kimberly Guilfoyle regarding the rally at the Ellipse, which immediately preceded the attack.

All three individuals were “involved in planning and preparations for the January 6th rally at the Ellipse,” the committee says.

“The Select Committee is seeking information from individuals who were involved with the rally at the Ellipse. Protests on that day escalated into an attack on our democracy. Protestors became rioters who carried out a violent attempt to derail the peaceful transfer of power,” committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement.

“We have reason to believe the individuals we’ve subpoenaed today have relevant information and we expect them to join the more than 340 individuals who have spoken with the Select Committee as we push ahead to investigate this attack on our democracy and ensure nothing like this ever happens again,” Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, added.

The committee says it has documents on file that show Worthington helped craft Trump’s speech at the rally. In the subpoena letter, the panel says it wants to speak with Worthington about lines in Trump’s speech that falsely claim that the 2020 election was stolen and potentially incited violence.

The committee highlights the lines of Trump’s speech where he told his supporters to “fight much harder” and “stop the steal.” The letter also references the section of the former President’s speech where he encouraged attendees to march to the Capitol and said, “I’ll be there with you.”

In its letter to Schwartz and Surabian, the committee said it is interested in communications related to planning for the rally, including concerns about certain proposed speakers like “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

They also reference communications about “appearance fees” for certain people who did ultimately speak at the event. While the letters do not name those speakers, it does mention several individuals who the committee believes Schwartz and Surabian were in contact with in addition to Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle, including rally organizers Katrina Pierson and Caroline Wren, as well as Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich.

Surabian issued a statement later Tuesday saying he plans to cooperate with the committee “within reason” but is also “bewildered” as to why he was issued a subpoena in the first place. Surabian claims he had “zero involvement” in organizing the rally that preceded the attack and was off the Trump campaign’s payroll as of November 15, 2020, nearly two months before the riot took place.

“During the time period that the rally was being organized, Mr. Surabian was overseeing a Super PAC in support of Republican candidates in Georgia,” the statement adds.

The House select committee obtained financial records for Budowich from the bank JPMorgan in late December as part of its probe, CNN previously reported.

Budowich had previously sued the committee, asking a federal court for emergency help the week of Christmas, to stop the bank from turning over his records. He said he had already given hundreds of documents to the committee, including about his finances, and the panel’s demand of the bank was a step too far.

But it was already too late. A judge initially denied his request for help, saying it was moot.

This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.

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