WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Committee is investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol Donald Trump has formally issued a special subpoena On Friday, he demanded testimony from the former president, who lawmakers say has “personally orchestrated” a multi-part effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The nine-member panel sent a letter to Trump’s attorneys He said he must testify either in the Capitol or via video conference “beginning on or about” November 14 and for several days if necessary.
The letter also outlined a wide-ranging request for documents, including personal communications between Trump and members of Congress and extremist groups. These must be submitted by November 4, although the committee’s deadlines are generally subject to negotiation.
“We recognize that subpoenaing a former President is a significant and historic act,” Chairman Bennie Thompson and Vice Chairman Liz Cheney wrote in the letter to Trump. “We do not take this measure lightly.”
The panel rooted its action in history, listing past presidents from John Quincy Adams to Gerald Ford who testified before Congress after leaving office – and noting that even sitting presidents have responded to congressional subpoenas.
It’s unclear how Trump and his legal team will respond. He could comply with or negotiate with the committee, announce that he will resist the subpoena, or ignore it altogether. He could also go to court and try to prevent it.
“We understand that the committee, again in violation of norms and reasonable and customary procedures, has released a copy of its subpoena,” said David Warrington, a partner at the Dhillon Law Group, which represents Trump, in a statement late Friday. “As with any similar matter, we will review and analyze it and respond appropriately to this unprecedented action.”
The subpoena is the latest and most striking escalation in the House Committee’s 15-month investigation into the deadly Jan. 6, 2021 riot, putting panel members in direct conflict with the man they remotely identified through testimonies from aides have examined. allies and partners.
In the letter, the committee wrote of the “overwhelming evidence” it had collected showing that Trump had engaged in “personally orchestrated” efforts to reverse his defeat in the 2020 election, including spreading false allegations of widespread voter fraud, “attempt of corruption”. Justice Department and pressure on state officials, members of Congress and his own Vice President to change the findings.
“In short, you were at the center of a US President’s first and only attempt to overturn an election and impede the peaceful transfer of power, which ultimately culminated in a bloody attack on our own Capitol and at the convention itself,” said Thompson and Cheney.
Lawmakers say key details about what Trump did and said during the siege remain unknown. According to the committee, the only person who can fill in the blanks is Trump himself.
The panel — made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans — approved the subpoena for Trump in a surprise vote last week. Every member voted for it.
The subpoena requests testimony about Trump’s dealings with several former aides and associates who have asserted their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination to the committee, including Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and Kelli Ward.
“These Fifth Amendment allegations — made by people with whom you interacted — related directly to you and your conduct,” the subpoena reads. “You provide specific examples where your truthful testimony under oath is important.”
The committee also made 19 requests for documents and communications — including all messages Trump sent via encrypted messaging app Signal “or otherwise” to members of Congress and others about the breathtaking events of the Capitol attack.
The scope of the committee’s request is wide — tracing documents from September 1, 2020, two months before the election, to the present day about the president’s communications with groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys — as the panel tries to piece together a story Recording the run-up to the attack on the Capitol and then the aftermath.
But there remains little legal benefit for Trump to work with the committee as he already faces other civil and criminal disputes in various jurisdictions, including his family business in New York and handling presidential records at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida estate.
It’s possible his lawyers will simply let the subpoena expire when they go to court to try to crush it, as the committee has to finish its work by the end of the year.
“It seems unlikely to me that this could be negotiated to completion in the time available to the committee of this Congress,” Peter Keisler, who served as acting attorney general under President George W. Bush, told The Associated Press.
There is enough precedent for Congress to solicit testimony from a former President. In the past century and a half, at least six current and former Presidents have testified on Capitol Hill, including John Tyler and Quincy Adams, both having been summoned in 1848.
This could be Trump’s chance to respond directly to the committee and tell his version of events, but the defeated president is unlikely to take it. He has ridiculed the panel and its work and prefers to share his views on his own terms. And testimony under oath could lead to legal exposure in the various other investigations he’s involved in.
If Trump refuses to comply with the subpoena, the panel must weigh the practical and political ramifications of finding him in contempt of Congress.
“That’s a bridge that we cross if we need to get there,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican member of the committee, told ABC on Sunday. “He made it clear he had nothing to hide,” he says. So he should come in.”
If the entire House voted to recommend a contempt indictment against Trump, the Justice Department would review the case and decide on further steps.
Other witnesses faced legal action for defying the committee, including close Trump ally Steve Bannon, who was convicted of contempt in July and sentenced to four months in prison on Friday. But despising a former president would be another matter.
The subpoena to Trump comes as the committee attempts to complete its investigative work and put together a final, comprehensive report to be released by the end of the year. Investigators have interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, including many of Trump’s top White House advisers, and have obtained tens of thousands of pages of documents since the committee formed in July 2021.
But the panel will only be authorized by this Congress, which ends on January 3rd. That means members have just months — amid a hectic post-midterm election session — to refine their historical record of the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries. It remains to be seen whether the testimony of the 45th President of the United States will be included.
The committee ended its subpoena to Trump by quoting one of his predecessors: “President (Theodore) Roosevelt declared during his testimony before Congress, ‘An ex-President is merely a citizen of the United States, like any other citizen, and is his level duty to attempt to assist this committee or to respond to its invitation.’”
Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro, Jill Colvin, and Mark Sherman contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s coverage of the Jan. 6 riot at https://apnews.com/hub/capitol-siege
Follow AP’s investigations into Donald Trump: https://apnews.com/hub/donald-trump