The U.S. House panel probing the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol unanimously voted Thursday to subpoena former President Donald Trump “to provide evidence as part of the committee’s investigation.”
The panel’s hearing—expected to be the last before next month’s midterm elections—largely focused on Trump’s role in the attack. In what critics now call his “Big Lie,” the former president repeatedly claimed, including in a speech the day of the insurrection, that Democrats stole the 2020 election.
Plans for the subpoena vote—which were initially reported by NBC News and Politico—and the result were welcomed by defenders of U.S. democracy.
“A subpoena of a former president shouldn’t be taken lightly. Neither should staging an attempted coup to change the outcome of an election,” said University of California, Berkeley professor and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
Along with the subpoena vote, the committee showed that “Trump Secret Service was warned that a mob was coming to the Capitol on January 6th to ‘kill people’ and did nothing to stop it,” noted Stand Up America executive director Christina Harvey. “Instead, Trump sicced the violent, armed mob on Congress and his own vice president.”
“As shocking as these revelations were, they were also just a reminder of what we’ve known from the beginning: President Trump was the ringleader of the conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election. He and his allies did everything they could to hold onto power… strong-arming state officials, the Justice Department, and Trump’s own vice president,” she said.
“Everyone involved in this national embarrassment must be held accountable, and the committee took the first step toward that goal with its subpoena of the former president,” Harvey added. “Though it is still unknown if this is the final time we hear from the committee, their work over the past year has proved the threat that Trump and his MAGA followers pose to our democracy and the importance of defeating them in November and beyond.”
Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn declared following the vote that “Donald Trump remains a clear and present danger to our democracy. The January 6th select committee is right to subpoena the former president. But the committee has shown clearly that the then-president violated his oath of office and committed crimes for which he must be held accountable.”
“Trump and his associates waged a weekslong campaign, that appears to have amounted to a criminal conspiracy, to overturn the will of the people and ignore the results of the 2020 election so that he could remain in power,” she continued. “Trump and those who participated in this plot must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
She stressed that “Trump must comply with the subpoena from the January 6th select committee because no one, including a former president, is above the law.”
Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president of Public Citizen and co-chair of the Not Above the Law Coalition, said that Thursday’s hearing “shows more clearly than ever that Trump was the mastermind of the insurrection and the multitudinous efforts to sabotage our democracy.”
“The committee’s subpoena is an important step to hold Trump accountable for the thwarted coup that he personally led,” she added. “He must comply.”
The Nation‘s Elie Mystal was among those who suggested that Trump’s compliance is unlikely:
While not directly addressing the subpoena, just after the vote Trump took aim at the select committee and Cassidy Hutchinson—an ex-aide to his former chief of staff who testified to the panel in June—on his Truth Social platform.
Earlier Thursday, Gilbert had highlighted that “thousands of pieces of evidence and testimony from Trump’s own staffers and foot soldiers have clearly laid out, fact by fact, what only those closest to him knew to be true: Trump engaged in a criminal conspiracy, knowingly made false claims—including claiming victory in the election—and incited a violent attack on the Capitol in order to overturn the 2020 election.”
“Perhaps the most important fact to focus on now is that without accountability for these crimes, these attacks on our country will continue,” she warned, noting that “MAGA politicians in state houses across the country are attempting to pass laws that will make future elections easier to steal, election officials are entering the November elections under the specter of harassment, and more and more proponents of the ‘Big Lie’ are on the ballot nationwide.”
After praising the panel for its “admirable job laying out the facts of the unconstitutional threat posed by Trump and his allies,” Gilbert argued that “it’s time for action. That’s why people are joining more than 75 events across the country to amplify the hearing revelations, and fight ongoing threats to our freedoms and our vote. America can’t afford more election interference, lies, and sabotage. It’s time to take a stand.”
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) tweeted in response to the hearing Thursday that “the evidence of criminal conduct by Trump is so strong that the only option left is for the Department of Justice to indict him.”
This post was updated after the committee voted to subpoena the former president.
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