President Donald Trump is seen on a screen speaking to supporters during a rally to challenge the US Congress’ certification of the results of the 2020 US presidential election January 6, 2021 in Washington.
Shannon Stapleton | Reuters
A federal judge ordered ex-President Donald Trump’s former aides, including his ex-chief of staff Mark Meadows, to testify before a grand jury in Washington, DC, to investigate Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot , NBC News reported on Friday.
In a sealed order, US District Judge Beryl Howell ruled against Trump’s offer to prevent his aides from speaking before the grand jury due to executive privilege, people familiar with the matter told NBC. Executive privilege is the jurisprudence that allows some executive branch communications to be kept confidential.
NBC sources said the other employees affected by the ruling were former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, former National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, former senior staffer Stephen Miller, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli, former Assistant to the President of the White House Nick Luna and former Director of Human Resources John McEntee.
Trump is expected to appeal the verdict, which was filed in secret, because it pertains to grand jury matters, according to NBC.
According to ABC News, which first reported the sealed order, Howell announced the verdict last week.
Meadows and other aides were reportedly subpoenaed earlier this year by Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department to oversee two criminal investigations involving Trump, including the Jan. 6 probe.
Smith is also leading an investigation into the classified documents sent to Trump’s private home in Florida and the possible obstruction of that investigation.
Developments in the special counsel’s case came as Trump railed against the Manhattan District Attorney, whose separate investigation into the former president recently appeared to be entering its final stages. Trump falsely predicted he would be arrested Tuesday on charges stemming from the investigation, which focuses on a 2016 hush money payment to a porn star who claims she had an affair with Trump.
Trump also faces a legal threat in Georgia, where a Fulton County grand jury is investigating efforts by him and his allies to meddle in that state’s 2020 election. Trump narrowly lost that fight to President Joe Biden.
Days before Congress met to confirm Biden’s overall victory as president, Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and urged him to “find” enough votes to reverse the outcome.
Meadows was on that call and was close to Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, when a violent mob of then-president supporters stormed the US Capitol, temporarily halting the peaceful transfer of power.