The House Jan. 6 committee said Monday it was evaluating all of its options after former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit to block a panel subpoena for documents and testimony.
“Former President Trump has failed to comply with the Select Committee’s subpoena requiring him to appear for a deposition today,” said committee chair, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the Vice President, in a statement.
“While the former president initially suggested he testify before the committee, he has since filed a lawsuit asking the courts to protect him from testifying,” said Thompson and Cheney.
They said Trump’s “lawyers have made no attempt to negotiate a semblance of any kind, and that his suit brings forward many of the same arguments that courts have repeatedly rejected over the past year. The truth is that Donald Trump, like several of his closest allies, hides from the Select Committee’s investigation and refuses to do what more than a thousand other witnesses have done.”
Trump’s lawyers have described a different situation.
In their lawsuit, his lawyers argued that he retained immunity as a former president and that while other presidents and former presidents have voluntarily agreed to testify before Congress, his legal team argued that no president was compelled to do so.
They described the committee’s subpoena as “void” because they said it did not advance any legislative purpose and claimed it was overly broad and infringed on his First Amendment rights.
Thompson told reporters Monday night that Trump’s lawsuit “puts everything on hold a little bit at this point” and said the commission will “take a stand at some point.”
Thompson did not rule out a vote to hold Trump in contempt, but said the panel must first determine how it plans to respond to the lawsuit.
“I say the first thing we do is look at how we handle the lawsuit and at some point after that we’ll discuss the way forward,” he said.
Committee Member Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., told UKTN News that “our three general avenues for possible response are criminal contempt referral, attempting to get a court to compel participation through a civil contempt proceeding, and then exercising of inherent powers of contempt of Congress, which we have not yet done.”
“In addition, we can use the general mechanisms of social disgrace of American political culture to make the point that everyone should be law-abiding, including former presidents of the United States,” Raskin said.
The January 6 committee had extended the UKTN for Trump to comply with their document request by a week. The initial UKTN was November 4.
The commission also asked Trump to appear for a statement on Monday.
As UKTN News previously reported, Trump’s team expected this move to try to run the clock on the subpoena before Republicans might retake the House after the 2022 midterm elections.
With some interim results still outstanding, UKTN News estimates the GOP could gain the majority in the chamber in January, though scrutiny is not projected.