Federal prosecutors investigating the role that former President Donald Trump and his allies played in the events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol have issued a grand jury subpoena to the National Archives for all the documents the agency provided to a parallel House select committee inquiry, according to a copy of the subpoena obtained by The New York Times.
The subpoena, issued to the National Archives in May, made a sweeping demand for “all materials, in whatever form” that the archives had given to the Jan. 6 House committee. Those materials included records from the files of Trump’s top aides, his daily schedule and phone logs and a draft text of the president’s speech that preceded the riot.
It was signed by Thomas Windom, the federal prosecutor who has been leading the Justice Department’s wide-ranging inquiry into what part Trump and his allies may have played in various schemes to maintain power after the former president’s defeat in the 2020 election — chief among them a plan to submit fake slates of pro-Trump electors in states actually won by Joe Biden.
The subpoena was not related to a separate investigation into Trump’s retention and handling of classified documents that were removed from the White House at the end of his tenure and taken to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Palm Beach, Florida. That inquiry led this month to a court-approved search of Mar-a-Lago during which federal agents carted off several boxes of sensitive materials.
Asking the National Archives for any White House documents pertaining to the events surrounding Jan. 6 was one of the first major steps the House panel took in its investigation. And the grand jury subpoena suggests that the Justice Department has not only been following the committee’s lead in pursuing its inquiry but also that prosecutors believe evidence of a crime may exist in the White House documents the archives turned over to the House panel.
Trump fought the release of the White House papers almost immediately after the House committee first asked the archives for them last August, claiming they were protected by executive privilege. But in January, after protracted litigation, the case reached the Supreme Court, which ruled against Trump, clearing the way for the panel to get access to the material.
During the court fight, it was revealed that Trump had asserted executive privilege over at least 770 pages of documents. They included records from the files of Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff; Stephen Miller, one of his former senior advisers; and Patrick Philbin, his former deputy counsel.
Trump also objected to the release of the White House Daily Diary — a record of the president’s movements, phone calls, trips, briefings, meetings and activities — as well as logs showing phone calls to the president and to Vice President Mike Pence concerning Jan. 6.
The trove of documents obtained by the committee also included proposed talking points for Kayleigh McEnany, Trump’s former press secretary, and a draft text of a presidential speech for the “Save America” rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol.
Many of those documents could prove useful to Windom and his team of criminal investigators as they seek to determine whether anyone broke the law as officials in the White House, pro-Trump lawyers and Trump’s allies in state legislatures and state Republican parties scrambled to deny Biden’s victory.
The subpoena was issued to the National Archives around the same time that it became publicly known that the Justice Department was looking beyond the rioters who were present at the Capitol and trying to assess the culpability of people who had helped organize pro-Trump rallies in Washington on Jan. 6. In the spring, for instance, Windom issued a grand jury subpoena to Ali Alexander, a prominent organizer of “Stop the Steal” events who complied by submitting records to prosecutors and testifying before the grand jury.
In June, another flurry of subpoenas was issued to state lawmakers and state Republican officials who had taken part in the fake elector scheme. Those subpoenas indicated that the Justice Department was primarily interested in what role pro-Trump lawyers, like Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, may have played in devising and carrying out the plan.
Throughout June and July, the House committee investigating Jan. 6 held a series of public hearings during which members laid out evidence they believed would be helpful in a federal investigation into a variety of possible crimes related to the attack, including obstructing an official proceeding of Congress and conspiracy to defraud the American people. The panel also suggested that Trump had misled his donors and attempted to improperly influence witnesses, and investigators tied Trump directly to the fake elector scheme.
The Justice Department has begun issuing subpoenas to some of the same witnesses the committee featured in its hearings, including at least five top White House officials.