Ex-President: US Capitol Storming Committee summons Trump

Ex-President Donald Trump has been summoned to testify under oath by a committee of inquiry almost two years after his supporters attacked the US Capitol.

Ex-President: US Capitol Storming Committee summons Trump

Ex-President Donald Trump has been summoned to testify under oath by a committee of inquiry almost two years after his supporters attacked the US Capitol. It's a rare escalation, but it could remain a symbolic step. There is a process for bringing defaulting witnesses to court for contempt of Congress. But the committee is running out of time with the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The US Parliament building was stormed on January 6, 2021, right after Trump's appearance in front of his supporters not far from the White House. The then US President once again stirred up the crowd with false claims that his victory against challenger Joe Biden had been stolen through fraud. He called on supporters to protest in front of the Capitol, where Biden's election victory was about to be officially sealed. Five people died as a result of the attack.

"We have an obligation to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion," said Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee's vice chair, in the subpoena. She made no secret of the belief that Trump was responsible for the attack on his supporters. "He sent them to the Capitol knowing they were angry, knowing they were armed," she said. One must ensure that not only the "foot soldiers" who stormed the Houses of Parliament in Washington would be punished. "Any attempt to excuse or justify the ex-president's behavior undermines the very foundations of our republic."

Committee must complete work by year-end

If Trump doesn't obey the subpoena, the House of Representatives could report him to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress. Trump's former adviser Steve Bannon, for example, has already been convicted for this.

However, time is running out. A new House of Representatives will be elected on November 8th. The committee must have completed its work by the end of the year - before the newly elected House of Representatives begins its work in January. And according to polls and analysis, the chances are good that the largely pro-Trump Republican Party will win a majority in the House of Representatives in the election. Then further investigations into the attack should be off the table anyway. Only two Republican MPs were active on the committee of inquiry. Both were sharply attacked by the party for this.

Trump can initially also send his lawyers to court against the subpoena. And even if Trump should follow the request, he can refuse to testify, for example so as not to incriminate himself. Several of his confidants had exercised this right when questioned by the committee.

Trump criticized the timing of the subpoena

In a first reaction, Trump did not comment on how he wanted to proceed, but attacked the investigation. In a post on his in-house online network Truth Social, he asked why the committee didn't ask him months ago to testify, but waited until the end. At the same time, he repeated his claims, which had been refuted by many courts, about "massive falsification" in the presidential election - "the reason for what happened on January 6".

The TV channel Fox News, citing confidants of the ex-president, reported that Trump liked the idea of ​​testifying before the committee and talking about how "corrupt" the presidential election and the January 6 investigation had been.

Experts consider the summons to be a symbolic step

Former New York prosecutor Preet Bharara commented that the subpoena is likely to remain a symbolic step. On the one hand, he pointed out on CNN that a Republican majority in the House of Representatives would dissolve the committee. Second, it takes months to get a conviction for contempt of Congress. And in the case of Bannon, for example, it was still not possible to get a statement before the committee.

The lawyer John Dean, who once worked in the White House of President Richard Nixon, who fell over the Watergate affair, does not believe that Trump will make a statement either. Its usual procedure is to delay everything - and it was therefore clear that an earlier advance would have been necessary. "So I don't think they wanted him that badly." However, the summons was an appropriate conclusion to the meeting.

Secret Service is said to have known about attack plans

New documents presented on Thursday showed that the Secret Service in charge of Trump's security was alerted to plans for attacks among supporters as early as late December. Internal news provided to the committee also shows that the Secret Service's surveillance also found that many of the Trump supporters present were armed at the appearance. After sunset, it could get "sporty," wrote a Secret Service employee. Nevertheless, the White House and Trump did not try to stop the performance or the march on the Capitol, the committee emphasized.

There was also further evidence that Trump wanted to drive from the White House to his supporters at the Capitol. The Secret Service was against it, arguing that the safety of the US President could not have been guaranteed. Several confidants, citing discussions with Trump, said he knew he had actually lost the presidential election.

In the past few months, the committee had already unearthed some astounding details. Numerous witnesses weighed heavily on Trump. Now, for the first time, footage has been shown of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi trying to organize protection by the National Guard or Defense Department units during the attack by telephone. Meanwhile, members of the committee emphasized that Trump had not done anything for hours - even against requests from confidants - to stop his supporters. He was informed about the events.