Orignally published on 2022-01-18 20:00:13 by www.nbcnews.com
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas Tuesday to Rudy Giuliani and three other allies of former President Donald Trump who were involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
The committee said Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell and Boris Epshteyn “publicly promoted unsupported claims about the 2020 election and participated in attempts to disrupt or delay the certification of election results.”
“The four individuals we’ve subpoenaed today advanced unsupported theories about election fraud, pushed efforts to overturn the election results, or were in direct contact with the former President about attempts to stop the counting of electoral votes,” Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement.
Giuliani, Ellis and Powell, who were some of the most visible advocates of Trump’s stolen election lies, appeared together at a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters in November 2020 to baselessly allege that Trump had been the victim of “centralized” voter fraud. Powell was later publicly removed from the legal team, but she continued to file legal challenges to the election.
The committee said in a news release that Giuliani “actively promoted claims of election fraud on behalf of the former President and sought to convince state legislators to take steps to overturn the election results. He was reported to have been in contact with then-President Trump and various Members of Congress regarding strategies for delaying or overturning the results of the 2020 election.”
Powell, Thompson said in a letter, also promoted election fraud claims and was reported to have “urged President Trump to direct the seizure of voting machines around the country to find evidence that foreign adversaries had hacked those machines and altered the results of the election.”
Robert Costello, the attorney representing Giuliani, responded Tuesday in a statement saying the subpoena “implicates executive and attorney client privileges that belong to former President Trump.”
“This is a grandstand theatrical political play because the committee cannot seriously think that they can subpoena four lawyers and actually obtain factual information in violation of the attorney client privilege,” Costello added.
Powell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ellis, the committee said, “reportedly prepared and circulated two memos purporting to analyze the constitutional authority for the Vice President to reject or delay counting electoral votes,” while Epshteyn was reported to have “had a call with former President Trump on the morning of January 6th to discuss options to delay the certification of election results in the event of Vice President Pence’s unwillingness to deny or delay the certification.”
Asked whether he had any comment on the subpoena, Epshteyn initially replied “nope” in a text message.
He later tweeted a statement saying it is “not a surprise” that the panel “would attempt to subpoena attorneys,” referring to the investigation as a “Stalinist witch hunt against President Trump and his supporters.”
Ellis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shortly after the committee announced the subpoenas, Ellis retweeted one of her tweets from Nov. 25, 2020, when she said she would not be intimidated by “false accusations.”
The panel says it has interviewed almost 400 witnesses as part of its investigation into the origins of the Jan. 6 riot. A number of Trump allies have challenged the committee’s subpoenas, arguing that they do not have to comply because they were advising Trump and are protected by executive privilege. The four people who were subpoenaed Tuesday are likely to make similar arguments, in addition to attorney-client privilege claims.
Giuliani and Powell have already faced repercussions for their election claims.
Giuliani’s law license has been suspended in New York and Washington, D.C., after a New York appeals court found that he had “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020.”
Powell, meanwhile, was sanctioned by a federal court in Michigan after a judge found that her suit challenging the state’s election results was based on “speculation and conjecture” and that it was a “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”
Jonathan Allen and Kristen Welker contributed.