Jan. 6 committee won’t let Trump’s testimony become ‘a circus,’ says Cheney

Rep. Liz Cheney said Sunday that while the committee “expected” on Jan. 6 that former President Donald Trump would comply with the subpoena the panel issued to him last week, “he’s not going to turn this into a circus.”

That meant committee members likely weren’t interested in Trump testifying live before the committee in a public setting, as some past witnesses have said, Cheney, R-Wyo., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“The committee takes this matter very seriously,” she said. “And we will continue to question the former president under oath. It could take several days. And it will be done with a level of rigor and discipline and seriousness that it deserves.”

If and when Trump sits for questioning, Cheney said, the format would not be like “his first debate against Joe Biden and the circus and food fight that ensued. These are far too serious questions. And we’ve made clear exactly what his obligations are.”

Should Trump refuse to cooperate or fight the subpoena in court, Cheney said, “We have many, many alternatives that we will consider.” But she noted that Congress’ demands apply to everyone — not just Trump.

“We have made clear in the summons a number of things, including that if he intends to take the fifth [Amendment against self-incrimination] that he should warn us about it in advance,” Cheney said.

The Jan. 6 committee last week formally issued its subpoena to Trump after earlier voting to approve such a move during the last public hearing. Subpoenaing a former president is a rare but not unprecedented move.

The subpoena requires Trump to turn over documents by Nov. 4 and appear for one or more days of depositions under oath beginning Nov. 14.

“We recognize that subpoenaing a former president is a significant and historic step,” wrote Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Cheney, the committee chairman and vice chairman, in a letter to Trump on Friday. “We do not take this action lightly.”

In response, a lawyer for Trump argued that the committee “violated norms.”

Jan. 6 committee won’t let Trump’s testimony become ‘a circus,’ says Cheney

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Minden, Nev., Oct. 8, 2022.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“We understand that once again, in violation of norms and due and customary processes, the committee has released a copy of its subpoena. As with any similar matter, we will review and analyze it, and will respond as appropriate to this unprecedented action,” said David Warrington, a partner at Dhillon Law Group.

In a series of hearings this summer and fall, the Jan. 6 committee cited extensive testimony, documents and other material from Trump’s aides and advisers in building a case that he knew he had lost to Joe Biden in 2020, but illegally sought to remain in power while calling on his supporters—some of whom he knew to be armed—to march on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, leading to the riot.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and accused the committee of political persecution of him, while offering no defense for his actions.

Only two Republicans sit on the panel: Cheney and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, both of whom are leaving Congress in January.

Kinzinger said last week on ABC’s “This Week” that potential direct testimony from Trump would require “negotiation.”

“He has made it clear that he has nothing to hide, [that’s] what he said. So he had to come in on the day we asked him to come in. If he pushes beyond that, we’ll figure out what to do now,” Kinzinger then said.

The committee’s work is likely to be revisited if the GOP retakes the House in November.

Cheney acknowledged as much in his appearance on “Meet the Press.”

“If we were in a nation where our policies were working as they should, the investigation would continue no matter what,” she said.

ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and Trish Turner contributed to this report.

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