Friday, lawmakers investigating the 2021 assault on the US Capitol summoned former president Donald Trump to testify about his role in the violence, marking a significant expansion of their extensive investigation.
The summons was issued following the unanimous decision last week by the House panel, which included two Republicans and seven Democrats, to require Trump to testify before investigators.
The 76-year-old Republican must turn in papers by November 4 and show up for a deposition starting on or around November 14 — the Monday after the significant November 8 midterm elections.
In a letter to Trump, the committee stated, “As demonstrated in our hearings, we have assembled overwhelming evidence, including from dozens of your former appointees and staff, that you orchestrated and oversaw a multi-faceted effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to obstruct the peaceful transition of power.
Trump was impeached for encouraging the crowd to attack Congress later that day to obstruct the peaceful transition of power to Joe Biden in a furious speech he delivered outside the White House on January 6, 2021. Trump had earlier encouraged his followers to “fight like hell.”
Despite knowing that allegations of election fraud had been soundly rejected by more than 60 judges and debunked by his campaign team and top advisers, the letter accuses Trump of trying to annul the results.
The letter continued, “In sum, you were at the core of any US president’s first and only attempt to annul an election and prevent the orderly transfer of power, which culminated in a murderous assault on our own Capitol and on the Congress itself.
David Warrington, Trump’s attorney, said his staff would “study and evaluate” the document and “react as appropriate to this extraordinary move” without acknowledging that Trump had received the subpoena.
The White House opted not to respond to specific questions about the situation but did make the general remark that it is “essential to understand January 6.”
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– Aggressive escalation –
The only person to be found guilty of contempt of Congress for disobeying a subpoena from the panel was former White House advisor Steve Bannon.
Bannon was given a four-month jail term on Friday, although he is still out on bail while his case is being appealed.
Trump is infamous for his ability to delay congressional investigations and legal proceedings; thus, it is improbable that he would consent to testify.
In any event, the subpoena expires in January with the start of the next legislative session.
If they regain control of the House of Representatives in November’s elections, Republicans want to halt the inquiry promptly.
However, the action is an aggressive escalation of the investigation, which has so far seen more than 100 subpoenas and more than 1,000 persons examined since its inception in 2021.
Congress has called numerous previous presidents to testify about their behavior while in office, but no current president has ever been required to do so.
To comply, Trump would have to testify under oath, and if he lied, he risked being prosecuted for perjury.
If he disobeys, the whole House may hold him in criminal contempt as it did with Bannon and recommend his prosecution.
– Clear and present danger –
Throughout eight sessions in the summer, the panel released reams of information suggesting the former president’s participation in a complex network of interconnected plans to rig the 2020 election.
Witness accounts revealed shocking instances of Trump and his friends exerting pressure on election officials and attempting to have legally cast ballots annulled in battleground states, as well as Trump’s inaction during the mob outburst.
The committee also argued that Trump is still a “clear and present” danger to democracy and that he is a significant source of false information about the 2020 presidential election.
By year’s end, lawmakers want to make a final report public.
Although the action would amount to nothing more than a gesture given that the Justice Department is already conducting an investigation, the committee has not yet indicated whether it would make direct criminal referrals regarding the Capitol incident.
All of Trump’s conversations on the day of the uprising and different messages in the weeks before the unrest are included in the list of documents that he is obligated to give.
Investigators make explicit reference to Signal, implying that the committee has found evidence that Trump utilized the secure messaging software while participating in the scheme.
Users may automatically set the program to erase messages after a certain amount of time.
Any Signal conversations between Trump and far-right militias like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys are included in the requested materials.