Trump’s Subpoena and the Panel
In a remarkable move, the House Jan. 6 committee unanimously decided to subpoena former President Donald Trump in an effort to obtain the whole account of the Capitol uprising before the panel’s work is completed at the end of the year.
Trump has continued to be vehemently hostile against the probe and still refuses to accept the “former” in front of the “president.” In a letter to the committee today, he referred to it as a “charade and a witch hunt,” but he made no mention of the subpoena or whether he would comply with the request that he appear.
As the committee ties together several investigation threads and puts the finishing touches on its final report, an attempt is made to compel Trump to testify. Only this Congress, which will adjourn on January 3, has the authority to create the panel.
Looking ahead as the panel rushes to its conclusion
More than 1,000 witnesses, including many of the former president’s top White House staffers, have been questioned by the nine-member committee. Additionally, they have provided a thorough history of Trump’s attempts to reverse his loss in the 2020 election, including his inaction on January 6, 2021, when his followers stormed the Capitol. However, they are still interested in hearing from Trump.
A written subpoena must now be sent to Trump after it was approved on Thursday. It will also specify the demands for papers and set a date for the interview, all of which are anticipated for early next week.
After that, Trump and his attorneys will determine how to respond. He might submit, work out a deal with the committee, declare his intention to disregard the subpoena, or all of the above. He could potentially attempt to stop it in court.
The panel will have to consider the practical and political ramifications of voting to hold Trump in contempt of Congress if he refuses to cooperate. The Justice Department would then examine the case if the full House voted to recommend such a charge.
This action was taken by the committee in relation to some of Trump’s associates who disobeyed subpoenas, including Steve Bannon, who was found guilty of contempt in July. Holding a past president in contempt, on the other hand, would be a special action for any Congress.
Trump said in his letter today that he was writing to express “anger, dissatisfaction and protest” that the committee was not looking into his allegations of widespread election fraud. He also used the occasion to brag once more about the size of the audience that had assembled for his address the morning of January 6 near the White House before he led them on a march to the Capitol. He added pictures taken from the air. Regarding the subpoena, he made no comment.
Even if Trump complies, there is reason to believe that his presence wouldn’t aid the probe. While Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in his 2016 campaign was ongoing, he did respond to several written inquiries from him. But the probe was not much advanced by his responses. He most recently appeared for a deposition by the office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James, but he refused to answer any questions and repeatedly cited his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.
WHERE ARE PENCE?
As it has been doing for months, the committee is still in communication with the former vice president Mike Pence’s attorneys. However, it’s not certain if the legislators will subpoena the vice president or request his testimony.
Investigators have spoken with a number of Pence’s advisers, some of whom gave them extensive information about the vice president’s whereabouts and mental state on the day he refused to object to the certification of the electoral votes and attempt to reverse their loss to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
As the rioters were inside the building, some of them chanting for Pence’s execution, video played Thursday during the committee’s penultimate hearing before the midterm elections showed Pence consulting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer for assistance. To make sure they could go back to the Capitol and declare Biden’s triumph, the leaders were coordinating with security personnel.
IS THIS A CRIME REFERRAL?
A further decision that the committee will have to make is whether to report any criminal allegations to the Justice Department. The House committee has access to a vast body of evidence that is independent from the federal prosecutors’ investigations into Jan. 6 and Trump’s attempts to rig the election.
Over the past year, members of the panel have made many allusions to the possibility of issuing criminal referrals. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who serves as the committee’s vice chairperson and is a Republican, indicated that the panel “may eventually decide” to do this during the hearing on Thursday. They have only”sufficient information to consider criminal referrals for many persons,” according to her.
Although a referral of this nature would not compel action, it would increase the political pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland as the department conducts its own investigations.
A recent delivery of materials from the Secret Service to the committee totaled more than 1.5 million pages. However, MPs claim that their demands have not yet been fully met.
The panel is attempting to corroborate White House staff’ versions of Trump’s activities on January 6 as he attempted to accompany his supporters, hundreds of whom eventually burst into the Capitol. The notion was vigorously rejected by security professionals, numerous White House aides, and GOP members of Congress. According to numerous versions presented by the committee, Trump was furious and made an ultimately fruitless attempt to go to the Capitol.
Based on the Secret Service information, California Rep. Pete Aguilar, a member of the panel who is a Democrat, stated that the lawmakers “would be recalling witnesses and conducting further investigative depositions.” Text messages that the agency claims to have deleted have not been provided.
The panel’s anticipated final move will be a sizable report outlining facts, conclusions, and legislative suggestions to make sure an incident like January 6 never occurs again. However, it’s unclear how much of its research materials will be made available to the general public.
Another Democratic representative from Maryland, Rep. Jamie Raskin, stated during one of the eight sessions held last summer: “We have only disclosed a small fraction of what we have seen.”
As many Republicans continue to hold the mistaken belief that the 2020 election was rigged and as Trump pursues a re-election bid in 2024, lawmakers have made it plain that the report will outline what they see as the stakes for the nation.
Cheney stated during the hearing that any attempt to defend or justify the former president’s actions weakens the core of our country.