The Jan. 6 Committee voted unanimously Thursday in favor of a resolution to subpoena former president Donald Trump over his role in the attack on the US Capitol.
"We need to hear from him," Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the committee, said in his closing remarks. "He must be held responsible."
He added, "It is our obligation to seek Donald Trump's testimony. There is a precedent in American history for Congress to compel the testimony of a president. There is also precedent for presidents to provide testimony and documentary evidence to congressional investigators.
"We also recognize that a subpoena to a former president is a serious and extraordinary action," he said.
In his opening remarks on Thursday afternoon, Thompson said evidence had shown that there was a "multipart plan" led by Trump to overturn the 2020 election.
“What Donald Trump proceeded to do after the 2020 election is something no president has done before in our country," he said.
The 9–0 vote came at what had been expected to be the last hearing of the House committee, which is investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, and less than a month before the midterm elections. Though Thursday's hearing had no in-person witnesses, it featured new testimony from many former Trump aides.
After conducting more than 1,000 interviews with witnesses and nine public hearings during its yearlong investigation, the committee will take a vote on "further investigative action," Thompson said at the start of Thursday's hearing. He also told reporters that there is “always a possibility” that the panel will ask former vice president Mike Pence to testify.
While the committee itself is unable to bring criminal charges or indict Trump, it can issue subpoenas that require people to answer questions and turn over documents. By the end of this year, the committee will be producing a report for the Justice Department, which could include criminal referrals and recommendations.
“An element of this committee’s responsibility is to propose reforms," said Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the committee.
In her opening remarks, Cheney said that Trump’s efforts to cling to the presidency were part of a “premeditated plan,” adding that the former president had always intended “to declare that the election was fraudulent and stolen before Election Day before he knew the election results.”
She also described Trump as the “central cause” of the Jan. 6 riot, and the committee presented new testimony from Republicans and former aides who served in Trump’s administration.
“None of this is normal or acceptable or lawful in a republic,” Cheney said.
“Donald Trump knew he lost,” Thompson said, adding the former president “pulled out all the stops in his attempt to stay in power,” leading to the attack on the Capitol.
One of the biggest takeaways from the hearing was that former aides told the committee that Trump acknowledged in private that he lost the election.
In one clip played Thursday, former White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah testified that she remembered walking into the Oval Office a week after the election and Trump saying, “Can you believe I lost to this fucking guy?” as he watched TV coverage of Joe Biden.
The committee also recently obtained 1.5 million emails and other records from the Secret Service that shed light on what happened on and around Jan. 6.
“Just fyi, POTUS is pissed,” one Secret Service agent wrote in an email in December 2021 as the Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit brought forward by Trump’s team.
Other emails showed the Secret Service had intelligence about the security risks ahead of the Capitol attack.
“Their plan is literally to kill people,” read a tip sent to the Secret Service in December 2020. “Please please take this tip seriously and investigate further,” the message shown during the hearing reads.
On Jan. 6, one Secret Service agent texted at 12:36 p.m., “With so many weapons found so far, you wonder how many are unknown. Could be sporty after dark.”
Rep. Pete Aguilar of California said the panel would be recalling witnesses and “conducting further investigative depositions” in light of the Secret Service communications. It wasn’t immediately clear if this would mean more public hearings.
The committee’s final report will be released sometime before the new congressional term begins in January 2023. Thirty days after the report is published, the committee investigating Jan. 6 will be dissolved.
Whether there are criminal charges filed against the former president for his role in the Jan. 6 riot is something that will be up to the Justice Department. So far, DOJ officials have charged more than 850 people who participated in the insurrection.
In response to Thursday’s hearing, the former president criticized the panel on Truth Social, his social media platform.
“The Unselect Committee knowingly failed to examine the massive voter fraud which took place during the 2020 Presidential Election - The reason for what took place on January 6th,” Trump wrote.
Outside of this subpoena, the former president and his organization are also facing many state and federal investigations.
In September, New York’s attorney general announced that she was suing Trump, three of his children, and the Trump Organization for fraud. In addition to this, the organization is set to go on trial in October for criminal tax charges in Manhattan.
The former president is also being investigated by authorities in Georgia for potential criminal election interference; at the federal level, he is being investigated for mishandling classified documents under the Presidential Records Act.