Updated Oct 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Trump officially subpoenaed by Jan. 6 committee

Donald Trump, wearing a blue suit and white shirt, speaks into a microphone at a campaign rally underneath an overcast sky.

Donald Trump. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Friday formally issued a subpoena to former President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump is the highest-ranking individual targeted for testimony by the panel, which has been building a case that the ex-president was the primary instigator of the deadly riot.

Driving the news: Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the chair and vice chair of the panel, are requesting Trump turn over documents by Nov. 4 and appear for a deposition on Nov. 14.

  • "As demonstrated in our hearings, we have assembled overwhelming evidence ... that you personally orchestrated and oversaw a multi-part effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election," they wrote in a letter shared publicly Friday.
  • The committee seeks testimony about Trump's dealings with associates who invoked the Fifth Amendment when questioned by the panel about their communications with him, including Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and Kelli Ward.
  • It also says the testimony and documents will inform the committee's planned legislative recommendations to ensure "no future President could succeed at anything even remotely similar to the unlawful steps you took to overturn the election."

The details: Among the documents listed in the subpoena are Trump's communications on Jan. 6, 2021 and any photographs or videos taken on that day related to the Ellipse rally, the joint session of Congress or the Capitol riot. Also requested are:

  • Communications from Nov. 3, 2020 to Jan. 6, 2021 about efforts to press former Vice President Mike Pence, state legislators, the Justice Department and members of Congress to help overturn the election, as well as summoning supporters to D.C. on Jan. 6.
  • Communications during that period between Trump and more than a dozen of his associates including Stone, Flynn, Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon and Sidney Powell.
  • Communications during that period about lawsuits and potential lawsuits that may have delayed or disrupted the joint session, and about fundraising off of claims of election fraud.
  • Documents and communications from Sept. 1, 2020 to the present regarding the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, other militia groups and any individuals who attended the Ellipse rally or the Capitol riot.
  • Communications from July, 2021 to the present about the select committee, as well as witnesses who testified to the panel and their lawyers.
  • Documents about the destruction of any materials that would have been covered by the subpoena.

Between the lines: The sweeping document request touches each branch of the multi-pronged effort to overturn the election that the committee elucidated in its public hearings this summer.

  • It also covers investigative avenues the panel is still pursuing, such as asking for communications with any Secret Service agents, including former agent and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Anthony Ornato.

What we're watching: The subpoena could ultimately lead to a protracted legal battle with Trump, who has repeatedly assailed the committee in public and reportedly told aides privately he would prefer to testify live.

  • Thompson and Cheney also acknowledged in the subpoena that it is a "significant and historic action," but noted it is not unprecedented, listing nine sitting and former presidents who testified to Congress or turned over evidence in response to congressional subpoenas.

The backdrop: The committee voted unanimously during a meeting last week to subpoena Trump.

  • The two-and-a-half-hour public hearing focused on Trump's central role in the attack and the events leading up to it.
  • Trump sent a 14-page letter to the panel the following day in which he didn't say if he would agree to testify.

Editor's note: This story was updated with details throughout.

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