Trump sues House Jan. 6 committee to avoid subpoena: NPR

Former President Donald Trump takes the stage on Election Day to speak at his Florida resort town of Mar-a-Lago.

Andrew Harnik/AP

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Andrew Harnik/AP

Former President Donald Trump takes the stage on Election Day to speak at his Florida resort town of Mar-a-Lago.

Andrew Harnik/AP

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump is suing the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol to avoid cooperating with a subpoena ordering him to testify.

The lawsuit, filed Friday night, alleges that while past presidents have voluntarily agreed to provide testimony or documents in response to subpoenas from Congress in the past, “no president or former president has ever been compelled to do so.”

“Longstanding precedent and practice maintains that the separation of powers prohibits Congress from compelling a president to testify before him,” Trump attorney David A. Warrington said in a statement announcing Trump’s intentions.

Warrington said Trump has made “good faith efforts with the committee to resolve these concerns consistent with executive prerogatives and the separation of powers,” but said the panel “insisted on pursuing a political path and would not allow President Trump to do so.” choice but to intervene the third estate, the judiciary, in this dispute between the executive and the legislature.”

The committee declined to comment on the filing, which comes days ahead of the committee’s deadline for Trump to begin working together. But the lawsuit likely wipes out the prospect of Trump ever having to testify, as the committee is expected to disband at the end of the legislative session in January.

It also comes just days before Trump is expected to officially launch a third presidential campaign at his Mar Lago club.

The committee voted to subpoena Trump at its last televised hearing before the midterm elections, and did so officially last month, requiring testimony from the former president either in the Capitol or via videoconference by mid-November, lasting several days if necessary.

The letter also outlined a wide-ranging request for documents, including personal communications between Trump and members of Congress and extremist groups. Trump’s response to that request was due last week, but the nine-member panel extended its deadline until this week.

In his lawsuit, Trump’s attorneys attack the subpoena as too broad and frame it as a violation of his First Amendment rights. They also argue that other sources besides Trump could provide the same information the committee wants from him.

The panel — made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans — issued a statement last week saying it was in contact with Trump’s attorneys.

The committee’s decision to subpoena Trump in late October was a major escalation of its investigation, a move lawmakers said was necessary because, members allege, the former president was the “central player” in a multi-part attempt to determine the findings of the… year 2020 to overturn election.

“I think he has a legal duty to testify, but that doesn’t always carry with Donald Trump,” committee vice chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said during an event last week.

In addition to demanding that Trump testify, the committee requested 19 documents and communications — including any messages Trump sent via encrypted messaging app Signal or “otherwise” to members of Congress and others about the breathtaking events of September 6 January 2021, attack on the Capitol.

The scope of the committee’s request was wide-ranging – tracing documents from September 1, 2020, two months before the election, to the present on the President’s communications with groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys – as the panel attempts to uncover a story compile a record of the run-up to the attack on the Capitol, the event itself, and the aftermath.

Trump’s lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Florida, where other Trump attorneys successfully sued to secure a special foreman tasked with conducting an independent review of records seized by the FBI during an Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago to perform.

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