Jan. 6 Committee votes to subpoena Donald Trump

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol took the unprecedented step Thursday of voting to subpoena former President Trump during what could be its final public hearing.

The vote was unanimous the 9-0 among committee members.

The televised vote comes after the panel wavered for months on whether it would subpoena the bombastic former president, who has frequently criticized the investigation as a partisan witch hunt designed to hurt him politically.

“He is the one person at the center of the story of what happened on Jan. 6. So we want to hear from him. The committee needs to do everything in our power to tell the most complete story possible and provide recommendations to help ensure that nothing like Jan. 6 ever happens again. We need to be fair and thorough in getting the full context for the evidence we’ve obtained,” Chair Bennie Thomspon (D-Miss.) said shortly the vote.

“We also recognize that a subpoena to a former president is a serious and extraordinary action. That’s why we want to take this in full view of the American people.”

Trump dismissed the committee’s vote to subpoena him as a publicity stunt.

“Why didn’t the Unselect Committee ask me to testify months ago?” Trump posted on Truth Social shortly after the House panel investigating the Capitol riots on Jan. 6 voted to subpoena him.

“Why did they wait until the very end, the final moments of their last meeting? Because the Committee is a total ‘BUST’ that has only served to further divide our Country which, by the way, is doing very badly – A laughing stock all over the World?” Trump continued.

The move marks a major escalation in the effort to hold Trump accountable for the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — a riot the committee contends was orchestrated by the former president. 

The subpoena is not likely to yield fruit, however, as Trump has remained defiant throughout the 16-month investigation. The former president is expected to challenge the subpoena in the courts, a process that is certain to extend beyond the life of the special committee, which is set to end later this year. 

“Today, 26 days before the Midterm Elections, America is truly a nation in decline. Inflation is out of control, the crime rate is at an all time high, and the crisis at our southern border has never been worse,” Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokesperson tweeted.

“However, instead of using their final days in power to make life for Americans any better, Democrats are doubling and tripling down on their partisan theatrics. Democrats have no solutions and they have no interest in leading our great nation,” he continued. “They are simply bitter, power hungry & desperate. Pres Trump will not be intimidate by their meritless rhetoric or un-American actions. Trump-endorsed candidates will sweep the Midterms, and America First leadership & solutions will be restored. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

As recently as a few weeks ago, some members of the committee had acknowledged that a subpoena — for either Trump or his former Vice President Mike Pence — was likely futile. 

“If we were trying to get into a subpoena fight with either the former vice president or the former president, that litigation could not be concluded during the life of this Congress. And I think the former president has made clear that he has no intention of coming in,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) told CNN late last month. “So while we’d like to hear from both of them, I’m not expecting that we necessarily will.” 

But by issuing a subpoena, the committee likely lobs a new legal matter at Trump. If Trump declined to comply with the compulsory order to testify, the committee and then the House could vote on whether to send a contempt of Congress referral to the Justice Department.

The panel and the House have four times voted to hold in contempt of congress those who have refused to comply with its subpoena. But the Justice Department has only acted on two of those, bringing charges against one-time White House strategist Steve Bannon and White House advisor Peter Navarro. Bannon faces sentencing next week.

The panel spent months deliberating about whether to subpoena Pence, but those initial discussions appear to have petered out.

“The vice president said publicly that he thought he might want to come in. And so we were very encouraged by that. But since that time, his people have walked it back,” Lofgren said in the prior interview.

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