House panel subpoenas organizers of Jan. 6 Trump rally

(AP) — A House committee investigating the violent Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has subpoenaed 11 officials who helped plan rallies in support of former President Donald Trump ahead of the attack, including the massive event on the day of the siege at which the president told his supporters to “fight like hell.”

The announcement follows a first round of subpoenas last week that targeted former White House and administration officials who were in contact with Trump before and during the insurrection.

The committee said in a release Wednesday that the subpoenas are part of the panel’s efforts to collect information from the organizers “and their associated entities on the planning, organization, and funding of those events.” In letters to those who were subpoenaed, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, demanded that the officials provide documents to the panel by Oct. 13 and appear at separate depositions that the committee has scheduled from late October through the beginning of November.

Thompson cites in the letters efforts by representatives of the group Women for America First to organize the rally on Jan. 6 and to collectively communicate with senior White House officials. The subpoenas also mention other events the group planned in the weeks between Trump’s November election defeat and the January attack.

The House committee of nine lawmakers — seven Democrats and two Republicans — has ramped up its investigation in recent weeks as it attempts to dissect the origins of the insurrection by Trump’s supporters and find ways to prevent it from ever happening again. The Trump loyalists beat and injured police as they battled their way inside the building, destroyed property and sent lawmakers running for their lives. Repeating Trump’s lies about widespread election fraud, they interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory and left those in the U.S. Capitol deeply shaken.

Included on the list of subpoenas are Amy Kremer, founder and chair of Women for America First; Kylie Kremer, founder and executive director of Women for America First; Cynthia Chafian, an organizer who submitted the first permit for the rally; Caroline Wren, who the committee says was listed on permit paperwork for the Jan. 6 rally as a “VIP Advisor”; and Maggie Mulvaney, who the panel says was listed on the permit as “VIP Lead.”

Wren, a veteran GOP fundraiser, was a national finance consultant for Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the president’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee. The AP has previously reported that Wren was involved in at least one call before the pro-Trump rally with members of several groups listed as rally participants to organize credentials for VIP attendees.

Amy Kremer, who the committee says was listed as one of several designated points of contact for the rally, denounced the assault in a statement issued on Jan. 6 and said it was instigated after the rally by a “handful of bad actors,” while seeming to blame Democrats and news organizations for the riot. She is also the cofounder of the Women for Trump PAC and the former chair of the Tea Party Express.

Mulvaney, a niece of former top Trump aide Mick Mulvaney, worked as director of finance operations for the Trump campaign, according to her LinkedIn profile. Maggie Mulvaney retweeted several messages on Jan. 6, including one from the president that urged support for the Capitol Police.

Also subpoenaed was former Trump campaign official Katrina Pierson, who the committee says was “reportedly involved in the organization” of the rally on Jan. 6 and a smaller one the day before. The panel said in its letter to Pierson that it is aware of reports that she met with Trump in the days before the rally.

The remaining names on the list were involved in the management and production of the rally and dealt with scheduling, operations and logistics. Those individuals are Justin Caporale and Tim Unes of Event Strategies Inc., Megan Powers of MPowers Consulting LLC, Hannah Salem of Salem Strategies LLC and Lyndon Brentnall of RMS Protective Services.

Event Strategies says on its website that it has “played a significant role in every US presidential campaign since its founding.” Caporale and Unes were listed on Jan. 6 permit paperwork as the rally’s project manager and stage manager, per the committee.

Powers, who served as the 2020 campaign’s director of operations, worked as a White House press aide and at NASA, and was listed as one of two operations managers for the Jan. 6 event. Salem, a former special assistant to the president and director of White House press advance, was the rally’s “operations manager for logistics and communications,” according to the permit paperwork.

The panel said Brentnall was listed on the permit paperwork as “On-site supervisor.” He is the owner of Florida-based RMS Protective Services, which advertises protection, investigations, surveillance and bug sweeps.

None of the subpoena recipients contacted by The Associated Press on Wednesday evening responded for requests for comment.

Many of the rioters who stormed the Capitol walked up the National Mall from the rally as Trump spoke for more than an hour and told the huge crowd to “fight like hell” and overturn his defeat. He repeated his baseless claims about widespread election fraud, despite the fact that they had been refuted by election officials and courts across the country.

At the rally, Trump suggested the protestors march to the Capitol from the staging area near the White House to encourage GOP lawmakers to “step up” and overturn the will of voters to grant him another term in office. Many did, and he was still speaking as people started rushing the building.

Trump’s reelection campaign said in January that it “did not organize, operate or finance the event” on Jan. 6. It said that if any former employees or independent contractors for the campaign took part, “they did not do so at the direction of the Trump campaign.”

The House Jan. 6 committee last week issued subpoenas to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino, former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. The four men are among Trump’s most loyal aides and some of them talked to him or were with him that day.

Thompson wrote to those four that the committee is investigating “the facts, circumstances, and causes” of the attack and asked them to produce documents by Oct. 7 and appear at depositions in mid-October.

In July, the committee held an emotional first hearing with four police officers who battled the insurrectionists and were injured and verbally abused as the rioters broke into the building. They spoke of their lingering physical and mental injuries and described in detail how they were attacked by the rioters. One officer said he was called racial slurs as he held the insurrectionists back.

At least nine people who were there died during and after the rioting, including a woman who was shot and killed by police as she tried to break into the House chamber and three other Trump supporters who suffered medical emergencies. Two police officers died by suicide in the days that immediately followed, and a third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, collapsed and died after engaging with the protesters. A medical examiner later determined he died of natural causes.

The Metropolitan Police announced this summer that two more of their officers who had responded to the insurrection, Officers Kyle DeFreytag and Gunther Hashida, had also died by suicide.