Politics

Event Planner Working on Bob Dole’s Funeral Is Let Go for Jan. 6 Ties

WASHINGTON — The Elizabeth Dole Foundation has cut ties with Tim Unes, an event planner working on former Senator Bob Dole’s funeral, after the Senate’s top Republican complained that Mr. Unes had been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 select committee for his work organizing the rally before that day’s attacks.

A spokesman for the foundation said Mr. Unes had been a volunteer member of the team planning the memorial events in Washington this week, including when Mr. Dole lies in state at the Capitol on Thursday and the funeral at Washington National Cathedral on Friday.

Mr. Dole — the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, a decorated war veteran and a native of Kansas who served for 27 years in the Senate and eight years in the House — died Sunday.

Steve Schwab, the chief executive of the foundation, said in a statement that Mr. Unes was no longer working on the memorial events.

“This evening, I made Senator Elizabeth Dole aware of Mr. Unes’s alleged involvement in the events of Jan. 6, 2021,” Mr. Schwab said, referring to Mr. Dole’s widow, a former lawmaker from North Carolina. “Senator Dole was previously unaware of his participation and terminated his volunteer role.”

Mr. Unes’s role in the preparations for Mr. Dole’s ceremony raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill, including among high-ranking Republicans and staff members who thought the presence of a Jan. 6 rally planner under subpoena would distract from honoring the former senator.

In a Congress still reeling from that day’s violence, representatives of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, raised the issue this week with a contact for the Dole family, who quickly agreed that Mr. Unes’s role in the event would be limited and that he would not be attending the ceremony in the Capitol, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.

Mr. Unes did not respond to an email sent to his company’s website.

Mr. Unes is the founder and president of Event Strategies Inc., an event planning firm based in Washington. The firm’s website describes it as providing “cutting-edge event management and production services for clients and events of all types and sizes both in the United States and around the world.”

The company lists major corporations and associations as clients, including HBO, IBM, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, the American Red Cross and AARP.

The website notes that employees at Event Strategies “largely managed and staffed the 130-person operations team for Donald Trump and Mike Pence” in 2016. It also says that in 2015, Mr. Unes “produced Donald Trump’s campaign announcement tour and helped the campaign establish its operations division and standards.”

Mr. Unes also has longstanding ties to the Dole family. In 1996, he served as tour director for the senator’s presidential campaign, traveling with the candidate around the country.

Planning for memorial events for a political leader like Mr. Dole typically takes place over years and involves scores of people. When someone lies in state in the Capitol, the events in the building are coordinated by the office of the House speaker, in this case Representative Nancy Pelosi of California.

A person familiar with the planning to honor Mr. Dole in the Capitol said that Mr. Unes had not been at practice walk-through sessions in the building in recent days.

Understand the Claim of Executive Privilege in the Jan. 6. Inquiry


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A key issue yet untested. Donald Trump’s power as former president to keep information from his White House secret has become a central issue in the House’s investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Amid an attempt by Mr. Trump to keep personal records secret and the indictment of Stephen K. Bannon for contempt of Congress, here’s a breakdown of executive privilege:

What is executive privilege? It is a power claimed by presidents under the Constitution to prevent the other two branches of government from gaining access to certain internal executive branch information, especially confidential communications involving the president or among his top aides.

What is Trump’s claim? Former President Trump has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the disclosure of White House files related to his actions and communications surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. He argues that these matters must remain a secret as a matter of executive privilege.

Is Trump’s privilege claim valid? The constitutional line between a president’s secrecy powers and Congress’s investigative authority is hazy. Though a judge rejected Mr. Trump’s bid to keep his papers secret, it is likely that the case will ultimately be resolved by the Supreme Court.

Is executive privilege an absolute power? No. Even a legitimate claim of executive privilege may not always prevail in court. During the Watergate scandal in 1974, the Supreme Court upheld an order requiring President Richard M. Nixon to turn over his Oval Office tapes.

May ex-presidents invoke executive privilege? Yes, but courts may view their claims with less deference than those of current presidents. In 1977, the Supreme Court said Nixon could make a claim of executive privilege even though he was out of office, though the court ultimately ruled against him in the case.

Is Steve Bannon covered by executive privilege? This is unclear. Mr. Bannon’s case could raise the novel legal question of whether or how far a claim of executive privilege may extend to communications between a president and an informal adviser outside of the government.

What is contempt of Congress? It is a sanction imposed on people who defy congressional subpoenas. Congress can refer contempt citations to the Justice Department and ask for criminal charges. Mr. Bannon has been indicted on contempt charges for refusing to comply with a subpoena that seeks documents and testimony.

In a Sept. 29 letter to Mr. Unes, the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack wrote that paperwork filed for the rally permit listed him as the “stage manager” for the event.

“The investigation has revealed credible evidence of your involvement in events within the scope of the select committee’s inquiry,” the committee said. “According to documents provided to the select committee, press reports, and statements by Women for America First (WFAF), you assisted in organizing the rally held on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, in support of then-President Trump and his allegations of election fraud.”

The letter indicated the committee’s demand that Mr. Unes deliver documents by Oct. 13 and appear for a deposition on Oct. 25.

It is not clear what Mr. Unes might have said to the committee, but the letter indicated that lawmakers were interested in whether he had any knowledge about the activities of Mr. Trump; Mark Meadows, his chief of staff; or other White House officials.

“The select committee seeks both documents and your deposition testimony regarding these and other matters that are within the scope of the select committee’s inquiry,” the letter said.

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