WASHINGTON (AP) – A House panel probing the US Capitol uprising on Tuesday summoned two Republican strategists and a Trump administration official in connection with their involvement in the planning and preparation of one of the pre-attack rallies.
Mississippi Representative Benny Thompson, chair of the panel, issued summons to Andy Surbian and Arthur Schwartz, the strategists who advised Donald Trump Jr., and Ross Worthington, a former White House and Trump campaign staffer who the committee says was under the leadership of then-President Donald Trump. Helped to draft Trump’s speech at the rally that directly preceded the January 6 attack.
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“We have reason to believe that the individuals we have summoned today have relevant information and we expect to be among the more than 340 individuals who have spoken with the select committee as we speak about our democracy.” Let’s proceed to investigate this attack and ensure nothing like this ever happens again,” Thompson said in a letter on Tuesday.
Worthington is a former Trump White House and campaign aide who served as a speechwriter and policy adviser. He previously worked for former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump ally.
Surbian is a GOP strategist who has worked in Trump’s orbit with Trump’s eldest son, Trump Jr., former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, and others. The committee alleges that Schwartz, another strategist who worked with Trump Jr. and Bannon, communicated with people including Trump Jr. and his now-fiancé and Trump fundraiser Kimberly Guilfoyle about the January 6 rally on the Ellipse.
A lawyer representing Surbian said his client would cooperate with the committee “within reason”, but did not understand why the summons was issued in the first place.
“He had nothing to do with the events in the capital that day, zero participation in organizing the rally that preceded it and was off the payroll of the Trump campaign as of November 15, 2020,” said Daniel Bean, representing A Surabion. The lawyer said in a statement.
Schwartz had no comment when reached by The Associated Press on Tuesday, and Worthington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
At the time, Trump was pushing false claims of widespread voter fraud and lobbying Vice President Mike Pence and Republican members of Congress to try to reverse the count in Congressional certification on January 6. Trump’s claims were repeatedly rejected by the courts as well as election officials across the country.