President Donald Trump is seen on a screen speaking to supporters during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, January 6, 2021.
Shannon Stapleton | Reuters
A federal judge ordered ex-President Donald Trump’s former aides, including his ex-chief of staff Mark Meadows, to testify before a grand jury in Washington, D.C., investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, NBC News reported Friday.
In a sealed order, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled against Trump’s bid to block his aides from speaking to the grand jury on the grounds of executive privilege, people familiar with the matter told NBC. Executive privilege is the legal doctrine that allows for some executive-branch communications to be kept confidential.
NBC’s sources said the other aides affected by the ruling are former White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, former national security advisor Robert O’Brien, former senior aide Stephen Miller, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, former deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, former assistant Nick Luna and former White House Presidential Personnel Office director John McEntee.
Trump is expected to appeal the ruling, which was filed in secret because it involves grand jury matters, according to NBC.
Howell delivered the ruling last week, according to ABC News, which first reported the sealed order.
Meadows and other aides were reportedly subpoenaed earlier in the year by Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed by the Department of Justice to oversee two Trump-related criminal investigations, including the Jan. 6-centred probe.
Smith also is leading a probe into the classified documents that were sent to Trump’s private residence in Florida, as well as the possible obstruction of that investigation.
The developments in the special counsel’s case came as Trump railed against the Manhattan district attorney, whose separate probe of the former president recently appeared to enter its final stages. Trump wrongly predicted he would be arrested Tuesday on charges stemming from the probe, which centers on a 2016 hush money payment to a porn star who alleges she had an affair with Trump.
Trump is also facing a legal threat in Georgia, where a Fulton County grand jury is investigating efforts by him and his allies to interfere in the 2020 election in that state. Trump narrowly lost that contest to President Joe Biden.
Days before Congress convened to confirm Biden’s overall presidential victory, Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and urged him to “find” enough votes to reverse the outcome.
Meadows was on that call, and was close to Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, when a violent mob of the then-president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and temporarily halted the peaceful transfer of power.