Is the Trump subpoena just a political stunt?

The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has been accused of performing a political stunt by waiting until what may be its last live hearing to vote in favor of Donald Trump’s subpoena.

During its ninth public presentation Thursday, the panel investigating the events leading up to the riot voted unanimously to issue a subpoena for Congress against the former president to testify about the attack on the Capitol.

The likelihood of Trump complying with the subpoena or choosing not to invoke the Fifth Amendment if he agrees to answer questions is minimal at best.

The Justice Department (DoJ) may not even decide to indict Trump for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena, a move it failed to take with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino on the possible consequences of indicting a former president with a relatively minor crime.

Trump subpoena voting stunt
A video of former President Donald Trump is played during a House Select Committee hearing investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol at the Cannon House Office Building October 13, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The timing of the vote was also questioned. Should the Republican Party regain control of the House of Representatives in the November midterm elections, the GOP would almost certainly drop the committee’s investigation into the January 6 attack early in the next parliamentary term in January 2023, and likely not recommend the DoJ to indictment to raise against the former President.

Trump would also only have to fight the court summons and delay the trial by a few months, a tactic he deftly employs until the case can be dropped.

Barbara McQuade, a law professor at the University of Michigan and a former US attorney, narrates news week that timing of the subpoena at the end of the hearings and just before the midterms “gives her an air of political stunt.”

After the subpoena vote, Trump himself asked, “Why didn’t the Unselect Committee ask me to testify months ago?” in a post on Truth Social.

“Why did you wait until the end, until the last moment of your last meeting? Because the committee is a total ‘BUST’ that has only served to further divide our country, which by the way is doing very badly,” Trump added. “A laughing stock around the world?”

Michael Binder, a political science professor at the University of North Florida, defended the committee’s decision to wait until its ninth public hearing to vote on whether to subpoena Trump, likening the move to how investigators do in a criminal investigation Action.

“Criminal investigators will often circle slowly around their objective when putting cases together, particularly complicated federal cases, to gather as much evidence as possible,” Binder said news week.

“Then, once they have their target essentially ‘dead right,’ they will interview it, knowing full well what the ‘truth’ of the situation is.”

Binder said it would have been more of a political stunt if the panel had opted to subpoena Trump months ago, as it would have given the courts time to work through the executive privilege arguments.

“[B]When the legal challenges are fought, it will be January and Republicans will control the House of Representatives. And once that happens, this whole process ends. Therefore, if this was really aimed at political gain, it should have been done months ago so you could allow the courts to work through the executive privilege arguments,” he added.

“Besides, even under a totally delusional prism he testifies before November 8th, over a million votes have already been cast in this election. It would take a couple of weeks for the schedules to be finalized, and by then more than half of the people will have voted,” Binder said.

“It’s nice that the committee says they’re going to subpoena him, but I just don’t see a scenario where he actually testifies under oath — whether it’s on live television or behind closed doors.”

Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani said yes before Thursday’s hearing news week that the committee’s work was “largely political theater” and not a genuine attempt to persuade the DoJ to file criminal charges against Trump.

Lisa Kern Griffin, a professor at Duke University School of Law, narrates Bloomberg That vote to subpoena Trump at the panel’s most recent hearing was more “symbolic” than anything else.

“It’s understandable that they would take that step, and it reinforces their point that he was the driver behind the violence and was aware of all the efforts being made to overthrow the election,” Griffin said.

“But subpoenaing him is a gesture. There will be no testimony from the former President.”

Trump lashed out at the House Select Committee after his hearing on Thursday, accusing it of being a “charade and witch hunt,” without mentioning whether or not he will comply with the subpoena. Is the Trump subpoena just a political stunt?

Rick Schindler

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