WASHINGTON - The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection is subpoenaing six people who the panel says were involved in the organization and planning of rallies that aimed to overturn Donald Trump's defeat in the 2020 presidential election.
The committee chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said some worked to stage the events and "some appeared to have had direct communication" with then-President Trump as they were planning the rallies.
The subpoenas were issued to Robert "Bobby" Peede Jr. and Max Miller, who the committee says met with Trump in his private dining room on Jan. 4; Brian Jack, Trump's political director at the time; and rally organizers Bryan Lewis, Ed Martin and Kimberly Fletcher.
The subpoenas come as the rallies before and during the Jan. 6 riot have become a major focus of the committee's investigation. Lawmakers on the panel have said they want to know who financed the events and whether organizers were in close touch with the White House and members of Congress as they planned the events.
At the largest Jan. 6 rally, on the Ellipse near the White House, Trump riled up the crowd and told them to "fight like hell." He said he would march to the Capitol with them, but he eventually returned to the White House.
Hundreds of his supporters who did proceed to the Capitol violently pushed past police, broke through windows and doors and interrupted the certification of Democrat Joe Biden's White House victory.
Miller, a former Trump aide who is running for Congress in Ohio, said on Twitter Thursday that he had received notice he would be subpoenaed and would accept it but that he would also "defend my rights."
"Upon taking office, I will make sure one of my first votes is to disband this partisan committee that has weaponized its powers against innocent Americans," Miller tweeted.
The committee has already subpoenaed more than a dozen other rally organizers, including several who have complied with the panel’s demands for documents and sat for depositions. But the panel is linking the witnesses subpoenaed on Friday more directly to Trump and the White House.
In letters accompanying the subpoenas to Miller and Peede, Thompson says that documents obtained by the committee show that the two men had lunch on Jan. 4 with Trump and Katrina Pierson, a former Trump campaign official who has already been subpoenaed by the panel, in the president's private dining room.
"The discussion centered on who the president wanted to speak at the rally," Thompson wrote.
In the letter to Jack, who is now a political aide to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Thompson writes that Jack reached out on behalf of Trump to several members of Congress to ask them to speak at the rally. One of those members, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, accepted and spoke.
The committee has now announced almost 50 subpoenas, and has issued an unknown number more subpoenas privately. Most of those witnesses have complied, so far, and the panel has interviewed almost 300 people who are somehow connected to the violent siege.
A handful of Trump's closest allies have refused to comply, however, or have said they will plead their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. The committee will vote Monday to recommend contempt charges against former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows after he reversed an initial effort to comply and said he would defy his subpoena.
Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri, Lisa Mascaro and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.