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Jan. 6 committee issues a subpoena on Trump and wants him to testify mid-November

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

The House panel investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol sent a subpoena today to former President Donald Trump. The committee voted unanimously earlier this month to subpoena Trump as part of its investigation into how responsible he was for organizing the assault. NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh is with us now with details. Hi, Deirdre.

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Hey there.

PFEIFFER: What does the committee want from Trump?

WALSH: Well, the letter from the panel's chairman, Bennie Thompson, and vice chair, Liz Cheney, asked for documents by November 4. They lay out a long list of things they want - things like memos, communications with political advisers like Roger Stone, outside legal advisers like Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman. He was the author of that memo outlining a plan to block the certification of several states' election results. They also want the former president to appear in person, testify before the panel they say on or around November 14. Thompson and Cheney point out that they have already interviewed over a thousand witnesses and reviewed over a million documents, mostly former Trump administration officials and staff, about what they say was a multi-part effort to overturn the 2020 election.

PFEIFFER: Does the House panel see Trump as the force behind the assault?

WALSH: They do, and they've been making this case over and over again over the nine public hearings they've held this year. They present evidence that they mention in their letter. The committee's leaders state to Trump, quote, "in short, you were at the center of the first and only effort by any U.S. president to overturn an election and obstruct the peaceful transition of power ultimately culminating in a bloody attack on our own Capitol and on the Congress itself."

PFEIFFER: You mentioned that the panel wants memos, communications, etc. Which of Trump's messages do they want to see?

WALSH: They're looking for communications between Trump and a list of his allies, people in the administration, in Congress and in some of the outside groups pushing misinformation about the 2020 election. For example, they're asking for communications between Trump and far-right groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys about plans related to people coming to Washington on January 6 for that rally near the White House and for efforts to disrupt the joint session at the Capitol. They're asking for materials related to Trump's outreach to state election officials to try to delay or change the certification of electoral votes in several states. They also ask for materials related to Vice President Mike Pence.

We should say Trump's efforts to wage all these legal challenges in over 60 courts were rejected, and the January 6 committee had testimony under oath from several witnesses who worked at the Trump White House that told the committee the former president was told repeatedly he lost, but he still kept pushing this plan to have Congress overturn the results.

PFEIFFER: And Deirdre, what's the precedent for ex-presidents testifying before Congress?

WALSH: I mean, it is pretty unusual, but committee leaders admit that sending a subpoena to a former president is historic. They do list a number of former presidents - people like John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Gerald Ford - who testified after they left office. They also note Abraham Lincoln and Ford testified during their time in office.

PFEIFFER: Has Trump responded to the subpoena?

WALSH: An attorney for Trump did. David Warrington, who's handling this matter, criticized the panel for, quote, "flouting norms and appropriate and customary process" in releasing this subpoena publicly today. But he did add, we're going to review and analyze it and respond as appropriate to what he said was unprecedented action.

PFEIFFER: That's NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Thank you very much.

WALSH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.
Linah Mohammad
Prior to joining NPR in 2022, Mohammad was a producer on The Washington Post's daily flagship podcast Post Reports, where her work was recognized by multiple awards. She was honored with a Peabody award for her work on an episode on the life of George Floyd.
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.
Barbara Campbell
Sacha Pfeiffer is a correspondent for NPR's Investigations team and an occasional guest host for some of NPR's national shows.