President Donald Trump is directing his former aides to defy subpoenas issued by the House select committee investigating the riot at the U.S. Capitol, a source familiar with the matter confirmed Thursday.
Politico, citing a letter the outlet viewed from a Trump lawyer to the aides, was first to report Trump's instructions to his allies. NBC News has not independently viewed the letter.
The committee has ramped up its probe, issuing several new subpoenas Thursday for the organizers of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6.
"The rally on the Capitol grounds on January 6th, like the rally near the White House that day, immediately preceded the violent attack on the seat of our democracy," the committee's chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said of the subpoenas for Ali Alexander and Nathan Martin for testimony and documents.
"The Select Committee needs to understand all the details about the events that came before the attack, including who was involved in planning and funding them. We expect these witnesses to cooperate fully with our probe," Thompson said.
A group of former top Trump aides appeared to be heading for a showdown with the committee after having failed to turn over subpoenaed documents by Thursday's deadline.
Trump had vowed to fight the subpoenas against the aides, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former White House strategist Steve Bannon, former social media director Dan Scavino and Kashyap Patel, who was chief of staff to Trump's defense secretary.
All four faced a deadline of Thursday to turn over documents and had not complied as of Thursday afternoon. The four did not respond to requests for comment.
Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Trump's political action committee, said: "The highly partisan, Communist-style 'select committee' has put forth an outrageously broad records request that lacks both legal precedent and legislative merit. Executive privilege will be defended, not just on behalf of President Trump and his administration, but also on behalf of the Office of the President of the United States and the future of our nation."
Thompson said last week that the committee would most likely send criminal contempt referrals for witnesses who do not comply with the subpoenas. "We'll do criminal referrals and let that process work out," he said.