Jan. 6 committee is ‘not messing around’: legal experts weigh in on subpoenas of Trump officials

Legal experts on Thursday analyzed the subpoenas issued by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"In letters to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Daniel Scavino, former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel, and former Trump advisor Stephen Bannon, Chairman Thompson instructed the witnesses to produce materials and appear at depositions in the weeks ahead," the committee explained.

CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams said it suggested an aggressive posture by the select committee.

"This is a big deal because usual practice in congressional investigations is to try to negotiate with witnesses before issuing subpoenas. Quick subpoenas like this are a sign they're not messing around," Williams wrote on Twitter.

On CNN, former federal prosecutor Elie Honig said he expected resistance.

""I would not expect any of these people to comply, to come in and testify because that is the history of the pattern we have seen from Trump White House when it was in power and now. Here is what happens next. It's up to the committee to decide are we going to go to court and fight this. Are we going to go to court and say we need a specific order from you requiring them to come in and testify and the key there is timing ... in past, it's taken House Democrats way too long to get into courts and these disputes have dragged on for months and years to the point where nobody even cared. The committee has to be ready to act quickly and demand expedited, sped up review from the courts here," Honig said.

The question of what Congress should do if the subpoenas are resisted was also raised. On MSNBC, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner noted the mechanisms Congress has available to enforce subpoenas.

"There, of course, are three ways Congress can do that. With civil enforcement, with criminal contempt, and with the inherent power Congress has to enforce its own subpoenas through contempt," he explained.

Former federal prosecutor Richard Signorelli argued that Congress should be aggressive.

"Contempt and incarceration. No exceptions, no negotiations," he counseled.

Meanwhile, Trump released a statement saying he would "will fight the Subpoenas on Executive Privilege and other grounds."

But Williams explained the problems with that approach.

"Trump will likely try to claim executive privilege over some of the documents and conversations here, but has two problems: (1) many communications would have been on behalf of Trump the *candidate*, not Trump the *president*, and not protected, and executive privilege can't (and shouldn't!) be a shield for covering up wrongdoing," he wrote. "Similar concept exists in criminal law; you can't tell your lawyer you're going to commit a crime, and then claim your statement was private/privileged because it was to your lawyer."