As announced, the investigative committee into the attack on the US Capitol has summoned ex-President Donald Trump. He is to hand over a large number of documents by November 4th and be available from November 14th for a multi-day questioning under oath.
It is still unclear whether Trump will follow the subpoena or take action against it. On Friday (local time), his lawyers initially only announced that they would examine the document. Trump himself used a campaign appearance in Texas on Saturday night to make fun of the committee's work in front of his supporters.
Storm on the Capitol
Trump supporters stormed the US Parliament building on January 6, 2021 - right after the Republican's appearance. The then-President once again stirred up the crowd with false claims that his victory over challenger Joe Biden in the November 2020 election was stolen by fraud. He called on his 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.
Among other things, the House of Representatives committee wants Trump to have data on all phone calls, text messages and communications via the Signal chat service on the day of the attack. He should also disclose with whom he communicated in the days about the outcome of the presidential election. Specifically, MEPs want to know about any documents since September 1 that have mentioned the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, two right-wing groups who violently participated in the attack.
Summons as a symbolic step
The subpoena published on Friday could remain a symbolic move. There is a process for bringing defaulting witnesses to court for contempt of Congress. But the committee is running out of time.
If Trump doesn't obey the subpoena, the committee could take him to court. However, that would probably be a month-long process for which there is no time. The other way would be to report Trump to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress. Trump's former advisor Steve Bannon, for example, has already been convicted and is to go to prison for four months. However, the ministry has so far only followed two out of four ads from the committee.
Trump can first 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.
The committee stressed in its subpoena that it was aware that subpoenaing an ex-president was a "significant and historic" step. At the same time, Democratic committee chief Bennie Thompson and his Republican deputy Liz Cheney emphasized that Trump was the "first and only" US president who tried to overturn an election result and prevent a peaceful transfer of office.
The committee also pointed out that ex-Presidents Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), Harry Truman (1945-1953) and Gerald Ford (1974-1977), among others, had testified before Congress. The deputies pointedly brought in a quote from Roosevelt, according to which an ex-president is just a US citizen like any other and it is his duty to obey a subpoena from Congress.
The law firm Dhillon Law Group hired by Trump criticized the committee for making the subpoena public. That contradicts legal norms, said a representative of the "Politico" website. Check the document now.
During his appearance Saturday night in Texas, Trump mentioned the subpoena but did not comment on whether or not he would follow it. At the same time, he ridiculed the committee's work: So far, its members have found nothing "except for a great patriot," Trump said. His supporters interrupted him by singing the national anthem. The only thing the committee doesn't want to investigate is "the corruption" that took place in the 2020 presidential election, Trump said. Shortly before the US midterm elections, he generally questioned the legitimacy of US elections.