Will Trump testify before the Jan. 6 commission of inquiry?

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After Democrats lobbied for a select committee to investigate the Capitol riots, social media users asked if former President Trump would be compelled to testify.

WASHINGTON – Six months after the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill and after House Democrats pushed for a committee inquiry, many social media are wondering if former President Donald Trump could be compelled to testify.

The Verify team has spoken to numerous political experts and examined the bill itself, to determine whether a subpoena is likely and whether it could force the former president to speak out in front of the Congress.

THE QUESTION

Could the House committee investigating the Capitol riots quote GOP lawmakers or Donald Trump, and would they be compelled to testify?

THE SOURCES

  • David A. Super, Professor of Law and Economics at Georgetown University Law School
  • Michael Thorning, Associate Director of Governance at the Bipartisan Policy Center
  • HR 503, “Establish Select Committee to Investigate January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol”

THE ANSWER

The bill explicitly allows the chair of the committee to issue subpoenas for any person he or she considers relevant. However, these subpoenas would likely result in lengthy legal battles that could outlast the committee itself.

Legal experts said it was still not clear whether the subpoena of a former president would succeed if the legal battle were to unfold.

WHAT WE FOUND

On June 30, just a week before the sixth anniversary of the attack on the United States Capitol, the House passed a resolution by a vote of 222 to 190 creating a select committee to investigate the events of that day.

On social media, many questions remain about how this committee will be run and whether current and former lawmakers might be compelled to testify.

“Will the 1/6 commission make Trump testify?” a Twitter user request.

Others have pushed for GOP lawmakers, like parliamentary minority leader Kevin McCarthy, to be forced to testify.

The Verify team reached out to political and legal experts to determine what actions are authorized by this committee.

The committee was formed on June 30 with the passage of HR 503. This bill allows House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to select 13 members, five of whom are “appointed after consultation with the minority leader” .

“I think the word consultation is important here,” said David Super, professor at Georgetown Law School. “This does not mean that [Pelosi] must accept his suggestions. She can ignore them. ”

According to the wording of HR 503, the objective of the select committee would be as follows:

  • Investigate the facts, circumstances and causes of the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol …

  • Identify, examine and assess the causes and lessons learned from the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol …

  • Issue a final report to the Chamber containing these findings, conclusions and recommendations for corrective measures …

Could Trump be subpoenaed? Would he have to speak?

Michael Thorning of the Bipartisan Policy Center said the committee would be able to continue subpoenas, as decided by the chairman.

“The committee has subpoena power,” Thorning said. “And could potentially subpoena former President Donald Trump or members of Congress to testify before the committee.”

Both experts agreed that it remains unlikely that Trump will be compelled to testify.

“The subpoena power of Congress has been very difficult to apply in recent years,” Thorning said. “Congress has often taken these battles to court. It may take a while.”

Experts believe these legal battles could last for months, if not years, perhaps even longer than the committee itself.

“If I advised the majority of the House, I would tell them not to subpoena him because all they would get is drama in court,” Super said. “They wouldn’t actually get any testimony.”

Thorning agreed that the prospect of the former president walking the halls of Congress to testify is unlikely.

“The committee could certainly subpoena and attempt to force former President Trump to testify,” he said. “But the potential for legal challenges that entail it may mean that will never happen.”

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