Lawmakers investigating the 2021 assault on the US Capitol decided Thursday to summon former President Donald Trump to testify about his role in the bloodshed, a stunning escalation of the extensive investigation just weeks before it concluded.
The House panel, which consisted of seven Democrats and two Republicans, unanimously decided to force Trump to come before investigators at what was anticipated to be its last meeting before the November elections.
“In order to give the evidence we’ve collected a complete context, we must be fair and meticulous. But beyond just gathering information, this committee has to hear from Donald Trump “Bennie Thompson, the committee’s head stated.
“Accountability to the American people is at issue here. He must take responsibility. He must provide an explanation for his behavior.”
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.
Trump is infamous for his ability to delay congressional investigations and legal proceedings. Thus it is very improbable that he would consent to testify.
Any subpoena would expire in January with the start of the next legislative session. The next elections will be in November, and Republicans will likely win control of the House of Representatives. So they want to end the investigation as soon as possible.
The investigation has been aggressively stepped up since it began in 2021 when more than 100 subpoenas were issued and more than 1,000 persons were interrogated.
Congress has asked previous presidents to testify about their behavior while in office, but no current president has ever been required to do so.
– ‘Clear and present threat –
Donald Trump didn’t respond right away. But if he doesn’t follow the rules, the whole House can find him guilty of criminal contempt and ask that he be brought to justice.
The vote served as a dramatic conclusion to a session that was already breathtaking and in which the committee presented new proof that Trump had intended to claim victory in the 2020 election regardless of the results.
Using information acquired by the committee, panel member Zoe Lofgren said during the hearing that Trump had a “premeditated strategy” to declare victory on election night, regardless of the results of the vote.
The panel presented evidence regarding the former president’s participation in a complex web of interconnected plans to rig the election during eight sessions held throughout the summer.
The committee’s vice chair, Liz Cheney, said, “The overwhelming body of information put forward so far has shown us that the primary cause of January 6 was one guy — Donald Trump — whom many others followed.
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.
Extraordinary evidence of Trump and his associates pressing election officials and attempting to have legally cast ballots annulled in swing states, as well as of Trump’s inaction during the mob outburst, were revealed by blockbuster witness testimony in June and July.
Lawmakers will release a comprehensive report by the end of the year. However, preliminary results may be disclosed before the midterm elections in November.
Although some committee members believe the matter is irrelevant since the Justice Department is already conducting an investigation, the committee has not explicitly said whether it would make direct criminal referrals on January 6.
– ‘Right to the violence’ –
A new video from a Danish film crew taken for a documentary on longtime Trump associate Roger Stone was shown during the hearing on Thursday.
The renowned self-described “dirty trickster” was heard assuring the filmmakers he had no interest in waiting to fight the vote count in one tape from the day before the 2020 election that was shown to the packed hearing room.
The 70-year-old Republican operator has not been prosecuted in connection with the incident and adds, “Let’s go straight to the bloodshed.”
According to the panel, Stone “kept substantial direct contacts to the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, two organizations responsible for the violent attacks on the Capitol.”
Seditious conspiracy charges have been brought against the insurrection’s leaders from both organizations.
As legislators try to determine why some agents’ text messages from the night before the uprising and the day of the rebellion vanished, the panel also presented information derived from over one million pages of papers turned over by the Secret Service.
Investigators’ access to Secret Service messages backs up evidence from earlier hearings that Trump wanted to join the crowd at the Capitol. If he had done so, the riot would have turned into an assault by one part of the government on another, perhaps upending the republic.
Trump was removed from office because, during a fiery speech to his supporters near the White House, he told them to flood Congress to stop Joe Biden from taking over peacefully.