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Supporters of US President Donald Trump occupy the US Capitol Building in Washington, US, January 6, 2021. — Thomas P. Costello/USA TODAY via Reuters
Supporters of US President Donald Trump occupy the US Capitol Building in Washington, US, January 6, 2021. — Thomas P. Costello/USA TODAY via Reuters

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WASHINGTON, Aug 26 ― A congressional committee investigating the deadly January 6 attack on the US Capitol issued its first demands for documents from government agencies yesterday, including communications involving some of former President Donald Trump’s closest advisers and family.

The House of Representatives Select Committee asked for White House communications records on and leading up to January 6. The panel also made extensive requests for material from the Departments of Defence, Homeland Security, Interior and Justice, and the FBI, National Counterterrorism Centre and Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The committee’s Democratic chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson, gave the agencies two weeks ― until September 9 ― to produce the materials. It expects to make additional requests as the investigation moves forward.

“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,” Thompson wrote in a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration, which holds records from the Trump administration, and the seven other government entities.

Trump, in a statement late yesterday, called the committee’s request “a partisan sham and waste of taxpayer dollars.”

Mobs of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol as Congress was meeting to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, and delayed that process for several hours as then-Vice President Mike Pence, members of Congress, staff and journalists fled from rioters.

Nearly 600 people have been arrested in connection with the Capitol attack.

The panel said it wanted information on the attack itself and the run-up to the events of the day, including the gathering and dissemination of intelligence, security preparations and the role agencies played in defending the Capitol.

It asked for documents related to planning for and concerns about violence surrounding the rally on January 6 where Trump made a falsehood-laden speech before his followers headed for the Capitol.

The Select Committee also requested information about personnel changes between the November 3, 2020, election and January 20, 2021, when Biden took office, and asked for documents and communications about possible attempts by Trump to remain in office despite losing the election.

Trump aides and family

Among the requests were documents and communications about Trump’s allegations of election fraud, involving Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and the members of his legal team including Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Kurt Olsen.

The letters also ask for documents and communications related to members of his family, some of whom had official roles at the White House. Those included first lady Melania Trump, his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, daughter Ivanka, daughter-in-law Lara and Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner.

House Democrats formed the committee, despite objections from Trump’s fellow Republicans in the House, to investigate the assault on the Capitol. It was the worst violence at the seat of the US government since the British invasion during the War of 1812.

Representative Liz Cheney, one of the two Republican select committee members, was stripped of her leadership role in her caucus after denouncing Trump’s allegations that Biden’s election victory was not legitimate.

Four people died on the day of the violence, one shot to death by police and the other three of natural causes. A Capitol Police officer who had been attacked by protesters died the following day. Four police officers who took part in the defence of the Capitol later took their own lives. More than 100 police officers were injured.

The document requests came a month after the committee held its first hearing, at which four police officers who had helped repel the attack described being beaten, taunted with racial insults and fearing they might die as they struggled to protect the building.

The committee has not yet scheduled additional hearings. ― Reuters

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