The U.S. House January 6 Committee used its first hearing in months on Thursday to subpoena former President Donald Trump to testify before it — after failing to produce evidence tying him to the Capitol riot, and just days before the 2022 midterm elections.
Committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) explained that Trump was at the “center” of events surrounding the Capitol riot, and that the need for him to testify “goes beyond our fact-finding” toward “accountability” to the American people as a whole.
The vote to approve the subpoena was unanimous, with the resolution to compel Trump’s testimony proposed by outgoing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), a staunch opponent of Trump whose stance caused her to lose her primary to retain her congressional seat.
The subpoena was first reported by NBC News, leaked from the committee:
NEW + SCOOP w/ @alivitali
The January 6th Committee plans to vote to subpoena former President Donald Trump during today’s hearing, sources familiar with the committee’s plans tell @NBCNews
— Haley Talbot (@haleytalbotnbc) October 13, 2022
Earlier, Thompson — who, like several other members of the committee, had objected to past presidential election results being certified, the very act described by the committee as an attempt to overthrow democracy — claimed that the committee’s investigation “is not about politics. It’s not about party. It’s about facts, plain and simple.”
The committee is composed solely of members of Congress who area against Trump, and were hand-picked by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in defiance of the enabling resolution of the committee. Its authority to issue subpoenas is therefore being challenged in federal court.
Cheney is not a “ranking member” of the committee, as described in the enabling resolution, but is referred to as the “vice chair.” Critics argue that without a ranking member, as described in the resolution, the committee lacks the power to enforce its subpoenas.
Members of the committee cited Trump’s allegedly “personal and substantial role” in the riot, but produced no such evidence. They read from a Teleprompter in a highly-scripted “hearing” that has been likened to a show trial rather than a congressional inquiry.
It is unlikely the committee can compel Trump’s testimony, given executive privilege. However, the committee has prompted at least two prosecutions for contempt of Congress against witnesses who refused to testify and who cited legal reasons for not cooperating.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
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