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House committee seeks documents from agencies on January 6 Capitol attack, signaling massive investigative effort

The requests echo those previously issued by other House committees in the aftermath of the January 6 riot, while significantly broadening the search to other areas and people inside and outside government. Specifically, the select committee is asking for records from the Department of Justice, Department of the Interior, Department of Defense, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Department of Homeland Security and, perhaps most importantly, the National Archives — the custodian of the Trump administration White House records.

The list of targets is long and varied, ranging from information about attempts to either carry out or defy then-President Donald Trump’s orders, invoke the insurrection act, martial law or the 25th Amendment, as well as for communications regarding members of the Trump White House, Trump campaign, January 5 and January 6 rally organizers, and even alleged members of far-right extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.

“The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol is examining the facts, circumstances, and causes of the January 6th attack. Our Constitution provides for a peaceful transfer of power, and this investigation seeks to evaluate threats to that process, identify lessons learned and recommend laws, policies, procedures, rules, or regulations necessary to protect our republic in the future,” committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, wrote in a statement Wednesday.

Several of the letters request “all documents and communications” related in any way to Trump and members of his family who served in official roles at the White House, including: former First Lady Melania Trump and top advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

Some of the former President’s other children and their spouses, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Lara Trump, are named as well.

The committee is also seeking records related to then-Vice President Mike Pence and a host of former White House officials, including former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, as well as of the former President, who have questioned the validity of election results in key states where Trump lost.

Among those listed are Rudy Giuliani, Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon and Roger Stone.

Investigators focused on efforts to overturn 2020 election results

As part of the sweeping records request, the committee has asked the Department of Justice for documents and communications involving discussions about challenging the validity of the election between Trump and former top DOJ officials, such as Jeffrey Rosen, Richard Donoghue, Patrick Hovakimian, Byung J.”BJay” Pak, Bobby Christine and Jeffrey Clark.

The committee also requested communications between Trump or his allies and “any DOJ official” in the days before and after January 6. As part of that request, the committee asked for any documentation related to discussion of the 25th Amendment from November 3, 2020, to January 20, 2021.

CNN previously reported that Clark, a Trump-appointed environment law chief for DOJ, was at the center of the former President’s efforts to overturn the election, received a high-level intelligence briefing around New Year’s 2021 that did little to stop his efforts to prove foreign interference had cost Trump reelection.

He has emerged as a major figure in the narrative being written in documents and testimony from former Justice Department officials who were forced to fight off his efforts to orchestrate a coup of leadership at the Justice Department and use it to help the former President.

Clark isn’t scheduled yet for an interview with the House Select Committee. A source familiar with Clark’s thinking told CNN earlier this month he is awaiting access to documents the committee has and to see whether a fight over the secrecy of presidential discussions materializes.

In addition, the committee requested all documents and communications from individuals that could show DOJ intervention in litigation filed by the Trump campaign — or states seeking to challenge the election.

On that list are Meadows as well as Trump lawyers and advisers, including Giuliani, Kurt Olsen, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, Joseph diGenova, and Victoria Toensing.

The committee also asked the Justice Department to provide documents that pertain to the certification of the election, including the role that Pence played in presiding over the Senate the day election results were certified.

And the committee asked about any senior personnel changes at the Justice Department, including with presidential appointees, between November 3, 2020, and January 20, 2021.

How a Trump environmental lawyer tried to weaponize the Justice Department to help the President

The committee specifically requested all documentation pertaining to Clark, a former Trump appointee at the DOJ who has emerged as central to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. The committee also requested communication between then-Attorney General William Barr and attorneys investigating allegations of voter fraud.

In terms of breakdowns in security preparations, the committee asked the Justice Department for all documents related to their planning as well as decision making on when to deploy law enforcement personnel to the Capitol and discussion about the use of martial law.

The Select Committee also asked for any paper trail on whether anyone defied orders from then-President Trump.

Will Biden assert privilege?

The National Archives previously told CNN it possesses documents that are relevant to the committee’s investigation and that there is a process “by which the Congress and the incumbent administration may request access to records of former administrations.”

The committee’s document requests could lead to potentially lengthy fights over access.

President Joe Biden could seek to block the committee from receiving any of the documents by asserting executive privilege. Trump also could assert executive privilege, but Biden has the ultimate say over Trump on whether the documents can be shared or if doing so could compromise the presidency itself.

January 6 committee considers whether to seek Trump White House call logs as investigators eye next steps

After that, Trump could still try to go to court to stop the committee from obtaining documents from the Trump White House and testimony from people like former White House Chief of Staff Meadows.

The question of executive privilege poses several potentially uncomfortable political scenarios for Biden.

If he does assert privilege, the Democrat-led committee could pursue more extreme legal avenues to try to obtain the records. If he doesn’t, that could set a precedent that opens his administration to expansive, Republican-led probes if the GOP wins either chamber in the midterm elections.

The Biden administration has already declined to assert executive privilege over some testimony related to January 6, telling former Justice Department officials that they were free to provide “unrestricted testimony.”

But the Biden administration has not weighed in on whether the committee should have unrestricted access to records and documents from the Trump White House.

CNN reported earlier this week that congressional investigators are also poised to send notices to various telecommunications companies requesting that they preserve the phone records of several people, including members of Congress.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee chairman and a Mississippi Democrat, said the panel plans to send notices to social media companies, too, though he declined to name which ones.

“I can tell you that we’ll look at everything that will give us information on what happened on January 6,” Thompson said. “We will look at all records at some point.”

This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

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