Cheney Leads Jan. 6 Committee to Subpoena Trump as Panel Details Evidence Against Former President
Fresh off her congressional ouster for taking on Trump, the Wyoming Republican did not back down: “The central cause of January 6 was one man, Donald Trump”
- Published In: Politics
- Last Updated: Oct 14, 2022
During what is expected to be the final public hearing, the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol voted to issue a subpoena to former President Donald Trump. (Photo via YouTube / January 6th Committee)
By Jacob Gardenswartz
Special to the Wyoming Truth
WASHINGTON — During the ninth and what is expected to be the final public hearing of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, panel members concluded their presentation of evidence with a unanimous vote: to issue a subpoena for documents and sworn testimony from former President Donald Trump.
“We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this in motion,” said Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). “Every American is entitled to those answers so we can act now to protect our Republic.”
Thursday’s vote came following another dramatic retelling of the events leading up to, during and after the day of the Capitol attack. As they have in earlier hearings, panel members unveiled previously-unseen evidence they alleged incriminates Trump for the violence that took place, stressing their belief that such mayhem could happen again if efforts are not taken to hold those responsible to account.
Unlike other hearings, Thursday’s “business meeting” — described as such to enable the subpoena vote — featured no live witnesses and no specific topic. Instead, each member of the panel walked attendees — and the many millions watching on TV — through the highlights of their previous hearings, with the focus squarely on one point: Trump’s culpability.
“The vast weight of evidence presented so far has shown us the central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, Donald Trump, who many others followed,” Cheney said in her introductory remarks. “None of this would have happened without him.”
In the 15 months since the committee was formed, it has conducted over 1,000 interviews and combed through hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, with Thursday’s meeting serving to remind Americans of what exactly the committee uncovered.
According to the panel, Trump’s efforts to subvert the election and the subsequent violence carried out on his behalf was “premeditated” and far-reaching. Testimony and documents — obtained “overwhelmingly from Republican witnesses,” according to Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) — revealed that Trump told associates before the 2020 election had even taken place his intentions to declare victory no matter the outcome.
Although Trump publicly boasted of victory after the votes were counted, he privately acknowledged the reality that Joe Biden had won, according to presentations of evidence from Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.).
New evidence showed Trump went so far as to issue an order to immediately withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Somalia in late 2020 to kneecap the incoming administration, something top military officials refused to carry out. President Biden reversed parts of that order shortly after he took office.
Trump continued his efforts to overturn the election in court, filing 62 lawsuits challenging the results in contested states, 61 of which he lost. (The one lawsuit his team won did not impact the outcome of the election and was later overturned by a state supreme court.) Though top officials ranging from the Attorney General to the White House Counsel to his own children explained to Trump the realities of his defeat, he nonetheless pressed on with unproven claims of fraud.
As it became clear Trump did not have a legal path to remaining in office, he and his associates began to test the boundaries: imploring local Republican leaders to “find” enough votes for him to flip their states, putting forth fraudulent slates of electors to assert his win in states he lost and whipping up his supporters to rally on his behalf, the committee members explained.
New documents released Thursday showed Trump-aligned officials engaging with far-right online forums where calls for violence were widespread. Though officials throughout Washington attested to the fact that they were caught off guard by the violence on Jan. 6, the committee has obtained evidence showing U.S. Secret Service personnel openly discussed the possibility of violence leading up to Jan. 6. The committee may recall some witnesses to explore whether the testimony they initially provided was truthful, members said.
Among the most damning evidence presented Thursday were behind-the-scenes videos of congressional leaders hiding underground as the Capitol was under siege, imploring officials throughout the region to send additional law enforcement to help contain the violence. As that was taking place, witnesses testified, Trump was watching cable news coverage of the riots, allegedly pleased with the outcome.
In the time since the inquiry began, Trump has become further ensnared in investigations over alleged election interference in Georgia, alleged tax and civil fraud over his business dealings in New York, alleged defamation pertaining to rape allegations against him and a sprawling criminal inquiry into his alleged improper handling of classified documents after leaving office — a matter in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against him during Thursday’s meeting.
Amid all of this, Trump has maintained his innocence in every matter. He has worked to paint those investigating him as corrupt partisans — dubbing the Jan. 6 committee a “total ‘BUST’” after Thursday’s meeting — and drawn on his popularity within the Republican Party to wreak havoc on his political enemies.
Among those who’ve felt Trump’s ire is Cheney herself. In August, she handily lost her GOP primary to Harriet Hageman, a Trump-backed candidate who has labeled the panel a “kangaroo court” and defended the rights of rioters detained for illegally entering the Capitol and participating in violence.
Though Cheney has successfully used her post on the committee to shine a spotlight on Trump’s behavior, it remains unclear how successful the subpoena for his testimony will be. Trump is all-but-guaranteed to fight it in court, proceedings which likely won’t be resolved for years.
Concluding Thursday’s meeting, Cheney hinted that the panel had amassed “sufficient information to consider criminal referrals for multiple officials,” pointing to the possibility of the committee recommending charges be levied against them. If that happened, it would be up to the Department of Justice to determine whether such charges are warranted.
And though she noted the decision of whether to bring charges is not up to her, Cheney made little effort to obscure her personal beliefs.
“Our nation cannot only punish the foot soldiers who stormed our Capitol,” Cheney said. “Those who planned to overturn our election and brought us to the point of violence must also be accountable.”