When it comes to securing an interview under oath with former President Donald Trump, the road ahead for the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol could be short-lived and bumpy.
House lawmakers took the historic step of subpoenaing a former president last week in a show of force invoked just hours after his former adviser was sentenced to prison time for denying the same request. With the issuance of the subpoena on Friday, the committee gave Trump until Nov. 4 to provide documents and ordered him to appear for an interview – in person or virtually – “beginning on or about” Nov. 14. Whether Trump, who has for decades famously skirted and delayed legal proceedings, abides by that timeline remains to be seen.
But the committee likely only has until the end of the year to compel Trump’s testimony, with the panel set to dissolve just 30 days after it issues its final report, or perhaps sooner in the likely scenario that Republicans regain a majority in the House and bring an end to the committee, invalidating the panel’s subpoena issued to Trump.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California taunted Trump in an interview with MSNBC on Sunday, saying that he’s not “man enough to show up” and comply with the committee’s subpoena. Nevertheless, committee members have hopeful that Trump will appear for testimony.
“We are anticipating that the former president will understand his legal obligation, will comply with the subpoena,” Committee Chairperson Liz Cheney of Wyoming said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” noting that the panel has “many alternatives that we will consider if the former president decides that he is not going to comply with his legal obligation.”
Along with its subpoena on Friday, the outlined in a letter to Trump his ‘multi-part effort” to overturn the election, citing the president’s “purposely and maliciously disseminating false former committee of fraud related to the 2020 presidential election,” his attempt to “corrupt the Department of Justice,” his pressure on the vice president to “refuse to count electoral votes during Congress’ joint session” on Jan. 6 and his “summoning tens of thousands” of supporters, some of whom were armed, to the Capitol, among other efforts.
“As demonstrated in our hearings, we have assembled overwhelming evidence, including from dozens of your former appointees and staff, that you personally orchestrated and oversaw a multi-part effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to obstruct the peaceful transition of power,” committee chairpersons Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Cheney wrote to Trump in the letter.
Cheney emphasized the seriousness of the committee’s move on Sunday, when asked whether the panel would allow Trump to be interviewed on live television, which he has reportedly expressed interest in. But she did not appear to rule out the option, saying only that it would not allow Trump to make a “circus” of its process.
“This isn’t going to be his first debate against Joe Biden and the circus and the food fight that became,” she said. “This is a far-too serious set of issues.”
She stressed the seriousness of the “threat” posed by Trump beyond the committee’s investigation as well, noting that a number of Republicans are willing to ignore it in favor of focusing on whether the Republican Party will prevail.
Cheney criticized Republican leaders – including Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who billed himself as a moderate Republican in his race against Democratic incumbent Terry McAuliffe last year, for his recent praise of Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, despite her openly denying the results of the 2020 presidential election. She also pointed to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who she said has at every opportunity chosen his own political gain over doing what’s right – especially when it comes to Trump.
The conservative lawmaker, who said she voted with Trump 93% of the time while he was in office, warned of Trump’s impact on the Republican Party itself, saying that if he becomes the Republican nominee in 2024, the party will “shatter.”
“I think that there’s no question that his election in 2016 began something that’s been very dangerous for this nation,” Cheney said. “And he can never be president again.”