ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
At least two former Trump officials, former strategist Steve Bannon and ex-White House aide Dan Scavino, are rebuffing subpoenas from a House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who sits on that panel, says they're exploring whether to issue criminal referrals to the Justice Department.
ZOE LOFGREN: We're going to pursue every remedy to compel compliance, but we're also getting a trove of information from others that will make this whole picture clear.
SHAPIRO: The panel wants them and two other former officials to testify by the end of next week. To tell us more, NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales is here.
CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.
SHAPIRO: So yesterday was the deadline for four ex-Trump officials to turn over documents. How have they responded or not responded?
GRISALES: Well, it's kind of half and half, if you will. This was part of the first wave of subpoenas that was issued by this panel targeting these four individuals. That's Bannon, Scavino and former White House chief of Staff Mark Meadows and ex-Defense Department official Kash Patel. Now, the panel says they're in current talks with Meadows and Patel. But in a statement today, they did not mention Scavino. However, reports indicate that he has not been served his subpoena.
Meanwhile, Bannon has told the panel that he will not be cooperating. He referenced executive privilege, a shield that he says would protect him from having to go along with these subpoenas. However, as Lofgren and others have told me, that is not the case. Lofgren in particular said Bannon's case is weak. He was not part of the administration on January 6. Also, Trump is no longer president. She also noted that executive privilege rests with the current President Biden and not the former or, quote, "random people."
SHAPIRO: So we've been talking about the House panel. What about the Biden White House? What role is the administration playing as far as these requests go?
GRISALES: Yeah. They made some news today. The White House said that they have authorized the National Archives to share its first trove of documents with this committee. They said executive privilege does not shield these documents from being shared.
Now, we should note Trump had already argued that it does, that these documents should not be handed over. However, the Biden White House said these documents shed light on the day of the January 6 attack. They also said that President Biden believes reaching a complete understanding of what happened that day is of, quote, "utmost importance." Going forward, however, they're going to consider these requests for documents from the committee on a case-by-case basis when it comes to executive privilege.
SHAPIRO: So let's talk about what happens if neither side blinks. Lofgren talked about possible next steps, maybe even including criminal referrals. What else is on the table?
GRISALES: Yeah. She mentioned those criminal referrals, and we should note this would go through the Justice Department under a Biden administration. So this is a whole new chapter in terms of how they would deal with it. And there's this potential that it could build up to witnesses facing fines or even jail time. The other option is civil litigation, and Lofgren said there might be even other tools they could rely on. They would basically fit them to the witness and see what was the best route to follow from there. And she also noted that these witnesses cannot just not show up and blow off Congress. They have to show up. And she said that Trump may be playing a role here influencing these witnesses and that he himself is prone to dragging out fights in the courts until he's safe. But she says that will not be the case this time.
LOFGREN: We're on to him. We're going to take whatever steps we're able to take to prevent death by a million court hearings that last for years. That is not acceptable.
GRISALES: So there, she's referring to the legal battles we saw during the Trump years. But again, this is a different story with the Biden Justice Department.
SHAPIRO: So just in a sentence or two, what's her next move likely to be?
GRISALES: So we'll see next week if these witnesses will come forward to testify. This panel is really hoping to see that happen. Meanwhile, they're working through thousands of pages of documents to put together a report as early as mid-next year before the elections.
SHAPIRO: NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales, thanks so much.
GRISALES: Thank you.
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