The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol issued a surprise subpoena seeking testimony from former president Donald Trump on Thursday, a challenge with little historical precedent that members said was a necessary final act before the panel concludes its work.
The unanimous vote came at the end of the committee’s ninth and likely final public hearing, a session intended as a closing argument to the panel’s 14-month investigation.
Combining a mix of new evidence gathered by the committee since July and testimony played at previous sessions, the hearing aimed to bolster a conclusion that members have hammered again and again: that the violence on Jan. 6 was the direct and predictable result of Trump’s choices in the weeks after he lost his bid for reelection.
But even after interviews with more than 1,000 witnesses and reviews of hundreds of thousands of documents, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the panel’s vice chair, said the inquiry’s work is incomplete without hearing answers from “January 6th’s central player.”
“Every American is entitled to those answers,” she said.
But the vote — which committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) cast as an “obligation” that will help ensure “nothing like January 6th ever happens again” — marked a dramatic punctuation to the two-and-a-half-hour session.
Among the revelations presented by the committee on Thursday was a memo suggesting that the plan for Trump to declare the election stolen should he lose was a premeditated strategy hatched even before voters went to the polls.