The House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol announced Friday that the panel has officially served a subpoena on former President Donald Trump, as it paints him as the central figure in the multi-step plan to overturn the results of the presidential election in 2020.
The committee issued the subpoena to try to compel Trump to sit for a deposition under oath and to produce documents. The panel orders Trump to turn over documents by Nov. 4 and either appear in person or virtually for “one or more days of deposition testimony beginning on or about Nov. 14.”
Trump’s lawyers said Friday afternoon that they will review the subpoena “and respond as appropriate to this unprecedented action.”
While it is not clear whether Trump will comply with the subpoena, the action serves as a way for the committee to set down a marker and make clear that it wants information directly from Trump as the panel investigates the attack. Trump could also fight the subpoena in court, possibly setting up a hugely significant battle that could go to the highest level of the nation’s judicial branch, but it’s also possible that such a legal challenge would last longer than the committee’s mandate.
Prior to the subpoena’s release, the committee’s vice chairman, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said at a Harvard event earlier this week that she assumes Trump will fulfill his legal obligation and honor the committee’s subpoena, “but if that doesn’t happen, then we will take the steps that we need to take after that, but I don’t want to go too far down that road at this point.”
Unlike previous subpoena notices, the committee on Friday released the entire subpoena it sent to Trump along with the documents it is requesting.
“As demonstrated in our hearings, we have gathered overwhelming evidence, including from dozens of your former appointees and staff, that you personally orchestrated and oversaw a multi-pronged effort to subvert the 2020 presidential election and prevent the peaceful transition of power,” Cheney and the democratic rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the committee’s chairman, writes in the subpoena.
The panel summarizes what it presented in its hearings to demonstrate why it believes Trump “personally orchestrated and oversaw” the effort to overturn the election.
It says Trump “intentionally and maliciously” spread false claims that the 2020 election was rigged to help his plan to overturn the election and solicit contributions. The committee paints Trump as “orchestrating and overseeing” the effort to obtain bogus state voters. Regarding pressure campaigns Trump conducted, the panel says Trump tried to “corrupt the Justice Department” by getting officials to make “false statements,” illegally pressured state officials to change election results, pressured former Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes on January 6 “despite knowing specifically that it was illegal,” and pressured members of Congress to object to valid voters.
Trump’s attorney, David Warrington, released a statement Friday afternoon, saying, “We will handle this matter as counsel to President Donald J. Trump. We understand that the committee, once again, in violation of norms and due and customary processes, has released a copy of its subpoena. As with any similar case, we will review and analyze it and respond as appropriate to this unprecedented action.”
Trump reacts to the committee’s unanimous vote to impeach him
The former president issued a lengthy response criticizing the committee on Truth Social after members voted unanimously to subpoena him, but did not say whether he would comply. Trump also recently shared a Fox story on Truth Social claiming that he “loves the idea of testifying.” But Trump could also fight the subpoena in court, and such a legal challenge would likely outlast the committee’s mandate.
In its subpoena, the committee specifically demands that Trump turn over all communications, sent or received between Nov. 3, 2020, and Jan. 20, 2021, with more than a dozen of his close allies who have emerged as key players in the wider world. plans to overturn the 2020 election:
- Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser
- Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative pardoned by Trump
- Stephen Bannon, former Trump adviser, convicted of contempt of Congress
- Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former lawyer
- Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official
- John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who worked with Trump to overturn the 2020 election
- Christina Bobb, a former One America News Network host and current Trump attorney
- Jenna Ellis, former member of Trump’s legal team
- Sidney Powell, former member of Trump’s legal team
- Kenneth Chesebro, a lawyer behind legal theories to overturn the 2020 election
- Boris Epshteyn, a Trump adviser
- Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who worked with the Trump campaign after the 2020 election
- Patrick Byrne, former Overstock CEO and pro-choice denier
The panel’s request for communications includes Trump’s signal communications. The committee also notes that it wants Trump to testify about his interactions with several people, including people on the same list who invoked their Fifth Amendment rights when questioned by the committee about their dealings with the former president.
“This subpoena calls for testimony regarding your dealings with several individuals who have now themselves invoked their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination regarding their communications with you, including Roger Stone, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, US Army (Retired), John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and Kelli Ward,” the committee wrote in a letter to Trump.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat who serves on the committee, was asked Friday if she and her colleagues are open to the former president testifying before the panel. She told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” that it is “under negotiation,” but reiterated that Trump must first respond to the subpoena.
“We asked for the documents first so we can consider what additional questions we may want to ask him,” Lofgren added.
The House committee’s latest public hearing, in which members voted to impeach him, served as a closing argument to the American public ahead of the midterm elections that Trump is at the center of the multifaceted plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
“It is our obligation to seek Donald Trump’s testimony,” Thompson said ahead of the subpoena vote at the hearing.
Cheney said at the hearing that seeking Trump’s testimony under oath remains “a key task” because several witnesses closest to the former president invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to their interactions with Trump.
“We are committed to seeking answers directly from the man who started it all,” Cheney said, referring to Trump.
This story has been updated with further developments.