Subscribe to Here’s the Deal, our politics
newsletter for analysis you won’t find anywhere else.
Thank you. Please check your inbox to confirm.
Leave your feedback
In a major move, the January 6 Committee voted to subpoena former President Donald Trump. It will likely be the last major action of the committee before the upcoming midterm elections. The committee’s aim is to question the former president about his actions leading up to the attack on the Capitol and will likely set off a court battle. Lisa Desjardins reports.
In an unexpected move today, the House Select Committee investigating the events on January 6 voted to subpoena former President Donald Trump.
The move will likely be the last major action from the panel before the upcoming midterm elections. The committee's aim is to question the former president about his actions leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol two years ago. The move will also likely set off a new court battle.
To help us make sense of all of this, I'm joined by our congressional correspondent, Lisa Desjardins.
Lisa, good to see you.
Let's start with the news out of today's hearing. The subpoena of the former president, what does it mean? And what do we know about why the committee chose to do this now?
On this ninth hearing for the committee, they voted 9-0 to subpoena the former president in relation to January 6. And this is all part of a case that the committee has been focused on since the beginning centering around the former president.
They laid out that case throughout these hearings and today again, as they say a president who planned months ahead of time to claim that the election would be stolen from him and then encouraged a mob to attack the Capitol and tried to bring other U.S. officials in line with him to try and overturn the results of the election.
Here is Republican Representative on the committee Liz Cheney laying out the argument that she — as she sees it for the case against the former president and for a subpoena.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY):
This leads us to a key question: Why would Americans assume that our Constitution and our institutions and our republic are invulnerable to another attack? Why would we assume that those institutions will not falter next time?
A key lesson of this investigation is this: Our institutions only hold when men and women of good faith make them hold, regardless of the political cost. We have no guarantee that these men and women will be in place next time. Any future president inclined to attempt what Donald Trump did in 2020 has now learned not to install people who could stand in the way.
The committee does expect a legal fight from the former president.
But, in a practical sense, the committee's work and the committee itself ceases to exist at the end of this Congress in early January. Only if Democrats retain control of the House does it seem this subpoena will live past the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the former president is reacting. He took to TRUTH Social. He questioned the timing in particular of this subpoena. And I want to show you what he wrote.
He wrote that:
"Why did they wait until the very end, the final moments of their last meeting? Because the committee is a total bust that has only served to further divide our country."
Amna, the former president also repeated lies, known falsehoods that do not have evidence about the 2020 election. Now, those on the committee say, why was the timing now? They tell me because all the evidence led them here. They say they didn't start out here.
Lisa, we know a lot of what the committee showed today was previously shown in the eight hearings, but there was a lot of new footage as well.
Tell us a little bit about what we saw and what we learned from that new material.
It was about what President Trump did before and during the January 6 attack. Before, we heard new words from Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an aide at the White House, who said she heard former President Trump say he had lost the election. That was in December.
But the most riveting testimony, the most riveting footage was new footage not seen by the public before from inside the Capitol of congressional leaders.
And I want to show you a few minutes of that. It begins just after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was whisked away from the House floor.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
There has to be some way we can maintain the sense that people have that there's some security or some confidence that government can function and that we can elect the president of the United States.
Did we go back into session?
We did go back into session, but now, apparently, everybody on the floor is putting on their gas masks to prepare for a breach. I'm trying to get more information.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi:
They're putting on their…
Tear gas masks.
Do you believe this? Do you believe this?
We need an area for the House members. They're all walking over now through the tunnels.
Bring her out! Bring her out here!
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY):
I'm going to call up the effing secretary of DOD.
We have some senators who are still in their hideaways. They need massive personnel now. Can you get the Maryland National Guard to come too?
Oh, my gosh. They're just breaking windows. They're doing all, all kinds of — I mean, it's really that somebody — they said somebody was shot.
It's just horrendous.
We're trying to figure out how we can get this job done today. We talked to Mitch about it earlier. He's not in the room right now, but he was with us earlier, and said: "Yeah, we want to expedite this."
And, hopefully, they could confine it to just one complaint, Arizona. And then we could vote, and that would be then just move forward with the rest of the states.
The overriding wish is to do it at the Capitol. What we are being told very directly is, it's going to take days for the Capitol to be OK again. We've gotten a very bad report about the condition of the House floor, the defecation and all that kind of thing as well.
I don't think that that's hard to clean up, but I do think it is more from a security standpoint of making sure that everybody is out of the building, and how long would that take?
Anyone can imagine that was very powerful footage in the room, and especially because, sitting in the front row in the hearing room, I watched as Capitol Police officers who withstood the attack watched that footage, struggling to watch it.
There, you see Aquilino Gonell, who was personally grievously injured in the attack, had to watch that footage they had not seen before. Of course, Congress did reconvene. But, as we know, January 6 and all of that footage is something that is very much a real part of life here in the Capitol day to day.
Lisa, we know also the committee subpoenaed the Secret Service, got handed over thousands of e-mails and other documents and communications.
What from those did the committee show in today's hearing?
Those thousands of documents, what we got from those today, Amna, was a picture of a Secret Service that knew months ahead, had very clear warning signs that an attack was coming.
I want to particularly highlight something that was raised by Representative Adam Schiff, he said, a tip that the Secret Service got.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA):
The source went on to say: "Their plan is to literally kill people. Please, please take this tip seriously and investigate further."
The source also made clear that the Proud Boys had detailed their plans on multiple Web sites, like TheDonald.win.
Let's pause here. The Secret Service had advance more than 10 days beforehand regarding the Proud Boys planning for January 6.
There was — there were clear conversations from e-mails that the committee pointed out between Secret Service members indicating that they believe President Trump did want to come and was planning to come to the Capitol that day.
And then, within a very quick span, some Secret Service high-up officials saying, no, we will not be going to the Capitol.
So, Lisa, today's hearing was the ninth public hearing by the committee.
Is it the last? What happens next?
This is the question everybody has. We don't know. The committee has not announced when it will have its last hearing. We do know that the committee is working on its final report. I, frankly, expect that to happen after the midterms.
We may get some sort of documents before then, but the main report we expect to come after. And, on that note, I want to point out one short piece of sound that we heard, something significant that could be in that report.
Here's Representative Pete Aguilar today.
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA):
And I will also note this. The committee is reviewing testimony regarding potential obstruction on this issue, including testimony about advice given not to tell the committee about this specific topic.
We will address this matter in our report.
That's a not-so-subtle reminder that, among the purposes of this committee, we know, has been to get the attention of the Department of Justice, obstruction obviously a federal crime.
Many on this committee hoping that their work leads to charges. We don't know if it will.
That is Lisa Desjardins reporting from Capitol Hill tonight.
Thank you, Lisa.
Watch the Full Episode
Amna Nawaz serves as co-anchor of PBS NewsHour.
Lisa Desjardins is a correspondent for PBS NewsHour, where she covers news from the U.S. Capitol while also traveling across the country to report on how decisions in Washington affect people where they live and work.
Support Provided By: