Donald Trump ordered to appear before committee investigating Capitol riot

21 October 2022, 19:02 | Updated: 21 October 2022, 19:50

Donald Trump has been subpoenaed to appear before the investigating committee
Donald Trump has been subpoenaed to appear before the investigating committee. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The committee overseeing the probe into the January 6 US Capitol riots in Washington DC has issued a subpoena to former president Donald Trump for testimony and records, saying he “orchestrated” a plot to overturn the 2020 election.

The former president was the "central cause" of a co-ordinated, multi-part effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, says the panel of investigators.

The nine-member panel issued a letter to Mr Trump's lawyers, demanding his testimony under oath by November 14 and outlining a request for a series of corresponding documents, including personal communications between the former president and members of Congress - as well as extremist groups.

"We recognise that a subpoena to a former president is a significant and historic action," chairman Bennie Thompson and vice chair Liz Cheney wrote in the letter to Mr Trump.

"We do not take this action lightly."

It is unclear how Mr Trump and his legal team will respond.

He could comply or negotiate with the committee, announce he will defy the subpoena or ignore it altogether. He could also go to court and try to stop it.

The subpoena is the latest and most striking escalation in the House committee's 15-month investigation of the deadly 2021 insurrection, bringing members of the panel into direct conflict with the man they have investigated from afar through the testimony of aides, allies and associates.

The committee writes in its letter that it has assembled "overwhelming evidence" that Mr Trump "personally orchestrated" an effort to overturn his own defeat in the 2020 election, including by spreading false allegations of widespread voter fraud, "attempting to corrupt" the Justice Department and by pressuring state officials, members of Congress and his own vice president to try to change the results.

But lawmakers say key details about what Mr Trump was doing and saying during the siege remain unknown. According to the committee, the only person who can fill the gaps is Mr Trump himself.

The panel - comprised of seven Democrats and two Republicans - approved the subpoena for Mr Trump in a surprise vote last week. Every member voted in support.

The day after, Mr Trump posted a lengthy memo on Truth Social, his social media website, repeating his false claims of widespread election fraud and expressing his "anger, disappointment and complaint" that the committee was not investigating his claims.

He made no mention of the subpoena.