Trump’s ex-national security adviser subpoenaed in special counsel probes of classified documents and Jan 6

Trump is yet to comment on the revelations Mike Pence and Robert O’Brien have been subpoenaed – despite coming on the same day that his Facebook and Instagram accounts were restored

Rachel Sharp
Friday 10 February 2023 06:23 EST
Donald Trump Responds To President Biden’s State Of The Union Address

Donald Trump’s former national security adviser has been subpoenaed in special counsel probes investigating the former president, according to reports – which came just hours after it emerged a subpoena had been served to former vice president Mike Pence.

Robert O’Brien, who served as national security advisor from 2019 to 2021 under the Trump administration, was served a subpoena by special counsel Jack Smith in both his investigation into the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago and the probe into Mr Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

A source familiar with the matter told CNN that Mr O’Brien has so far been asserting executive privilege in declining to provide some of the information that prosecutors are asking of him.

Mr O’Brien, the fourth and final national security advisor to serve under Mr Trump, was previously interviewed by the House commmittee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot last summer.

Following the November 2020 presidential election, he had been among a minority of Trump officials to acknowledge President Joe Biden’s victory, publicly saying that the National Security Council planned to ensure there was “a very professional transition”.

When Mr Trump’s supporters then stormed the US Capitol on January 6, he is said to have considered resigning – but ultimately stayed on until the end of his term.

While this means he may have information key to the special counsel probe, as the national security adviser he also should have been involved in the handling of classified documents – and so may be able to shed light on how a trove of top-secret papers wound up at Mr Trump’s private residence after he left the White House.

Reports of Mr O’Brien’s subpoena came just hours after it emerged that Mr Pence has also been subpoenaed by the special counsel following months of negotiations between the former vice president’s legal team and Mr Smith.

It is not clear exactly what information Mr Smith is seeking from Mr Pence or which particular probe it relates to – given the special prosecutor is currently heading up multiple investigations into Mr Trump.

Mr Trump’s former acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf has also recently spoken to the Justice Department as part of the probe into Mr Trump’s actions over the 2020 election, Bloomberg reported.

The former president is yet to comment on the revelations that several of his top officials have been called to testify against him – despite him making a series of posts on his Truth Social account in the hours after the reports surfaced and coming on the same day that his Facebook and Instagram accounts were restored.

Donald Trump with Mike Pence, Robert O’Brien (far left), Mark Esper, and Mark Milley in October 2019

On Thursday, the social media giant Meta officially welcomed Mr Trump back to Facebook and Instagram following a two-year ban since January 6.

Meta announced in January that the one-term president would have his suspension lifted “in the coming weeks” with Sir Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister who is now Meta’s president for global affairs, saying the decision was made after assessing “whether the serious risk to public safety that existed in January 2021” had “sufficiently receded”.

Mr Trump’s accounts became active again on Thursday, meaning he now has access again to a Facebook account which in January had 34 million followers and 23 million on Instagram.

As of around 6am ET on Friday, Mr Trump was yet to make a return to the accounts – with the last posts on the page still being his final posts on January 6 2021.

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