WASHINGTON (CN) — The Jan. 6 committee voted to subpoena former President Donald Trump on Thursday after laying out his complicity in a scheme to overturn the 2020 election culminating in last year’s insurrection.
Asking for documents and testimony, the committee said every American is entitled to answers from Trump on the events of Jan. 6.
“We must seek the testimony under oath of January 6th’s central player,” said Representative Liz Cheney, one of only two Republicans on the committee, as the body held what will likely be its meeting until the midterm elections.
Chairman Bennie Thompson said there is precedent for Congress to ask for presidential testimony, and there is also precedent for presidents' compliance with these requests. He said the committee wanted to take this vote in front of the American people because the “subject matter at issue is so important.”
“The need for this committee to hear from Donald Trump goes beyond fact,” Thompson said. “This is a question about accountability to the American people. He must be accountable. He is required to answer for his actions.”
Cheney also said the committee has information for criminal referrals for multiple individuals.
As in eight previous hearings — the last one was in July — lawmakers on the committee focused Thursday on Trump's actions when it was irrefutable that he had lost reelection.
“What Donald Trump proceeded to do after the 2020 election is something no president has done before in our country,” Thompson said. “In a staggering betrayal of his oath, Donald Trump attempted a plan that led to an attack on a pillar of our democracy.”
The committee provided evidence of Trump’s knowledge of his election loss through videotaped witness testimony and evidence of key individuals in Trump’s orbit who enabled the former president’s denial of the results. Regardless of the election’s outcome, lawmakers observed, Trump never intended to concede.
“Claims that President Trump actually thought the election was stolen are not supported by fact and are not a defense,” Cheney said. “There is no defense that Donald Trump was duped or irrational. No president can defy the rule of law and act this way in a constitutional republic.”
Representative Zoe Lofgren zeroed in on the bombastic tone that Trump set on Election Night.
"The evidence shows that his false victory speech was planned well in advance before any votes have been counted,” she said. “It was a premeditated plan by the president to declare victory no matter what the actual result was. He made a plan to stay in office before Election Day.”
Trump’s knowledge of his election loss is further detailed, according to the committee, by his issuance of a memo weeks before he left office, ordering a large-scale troop withdrawal. The committee claims this shows Trump’s rush to complete unfinished business and that he was brash and irrational while doing so. Trump signed the order on Nov. 11 to require the removal of troops from Somalia and Afghanistan before President Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
“Keep in mind the order was for an immediate withdrawal,” Representative Adam Kinzinger said. “It would have been catastrophic, and yet President Trump signed the order. These are the highly consequential actions of a president who knows his term will shortly end. At the same time, President Trump was acknowledging privately that he had lost the election, he was hearing that there was no evidence of fraud or irregularities sufficient to change the outcome.”
Trump was “irate” when his election challenges — particularly those at the Supreme Court — were shot down. According to former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, Trump told his chief of staff Mark Meadows that the loss was embarrassing and he “didn’t want people to know” about it.