WASHINGTON (AP) — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has extended the deadline for former President Donald Trump to turn over documents as part of a subpoena issued last month, while reiterating its request for a sit-down interview.
The panel — comprised of seven Democrats and two Republicans — issued a statement late Friday saying it is in communication with Trump’s attorneys. Friday had been the committee’s deadline for Trump to produce an extensive number of documents and communications with lawmakers.
“We have informed the former President’s counsel that he must begin producing records no later than next week and he remains under subpoena for deposition testimony starting on November 14th,” Chairman Bennie Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney wrote in the statement.
Subpoena sets stage for legal battle with Trump
With other subpoenas, the committee’s deadlines for document or depositions requests have generally been subject to negotiation, but only when there is a direct line of communication with the witness and their attorney.
The committee’s decision to subpoena Trump in late October was a major escalation in the investigation, a step lawmakers said was necessary because the former president was the “central player” in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The subpoena set the stage for a potential legal battle with Trump at a time when he is considering launching another run for the White House.
“I think that he has a legal obligation to testify but that doesn’t always carry weight with Donald Trump,” Rep. Cheney, R-Wyo., said during an event Tuesday.
In addition to demanding that Trump testify, either at the Capitol or by videoconference, by mid-November, the committee also made 19 requests for documents and communication — including for any messages Trump sent on the encrypted messaging app Signal “or any other means” to members of Congress and others about the stunning events of the Capitol attack.
The scope of the committee’s request is expansive — pursuing documents from Sept. 1, 2020, two months before the election, to the present on the president’s communications with the groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys — as the panel looks to compile a historical record of the run-up to the Capitol attack, the event itself and the aftermath.
Unclear if Trump can be penalized for missing deadline
It remains unclear what action, if any, the committee will take in response to Trump missing the document deadline. In previous situations, when met with defiance, lawmakers have voted to hold Trump’s allies in contempt of Congress, sending referrals to the Justice Department for potential prosecution.
In the Oct. 21 subpoena letter, the committee wrote about the “overwhelming evidence” it has assembled, showing Trump “personally orchestrated” an effort to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election, including by spreading false allegations of widespread voter fraud, “attempting to corrupt” the Justice Department and pressuring state officials, members of Congress and his own vice president to change the results.
Lawmakers have said Trump’s testimony about what he was doing and saying as the violence ensued on Jan. 6 is crucial to filling in the gaps of their investigation.
The subpoena had detailed a specific interest to hear from Trump about his dealings with several former aides and associates who have asserted their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination to the committee, including Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and Kelli Ward.