The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, Capitol Hill insurrection said former President Donald Trump has “failed to comply” with its subpoena for documents and testimony.
“In the days ahead, the committee will evaluate next steps in the litigation and regarding the former President’s noncompliance,” Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson and GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, who serves as chair and vice chair of the committee respectively, said in a statement.
The committee has previously held witnesses in contempt of Congress for defying the panel’s subpoenas but has little ability to force compliance with the subpoena quickly through the courts.
Trump sued the committee on November 11 as a way to challenge his subpoena according to filings in a federal court in Florida. His lawsuit sought to challenge both the legitimacy of the committee – which multiple courts have upheld – and claim he should be immune from testimony about the time he was president.
Thompson and Cheney said in their statement on Monday, “[Trump’s] attorneys have made no attempt to negotiate an appearance of any sort, and his lawsuit parries out many of the same arguments that courts have repeatedly rejected over the last year.”
Trump’s lawyers said in the court filings they’ve communicated with the House over the past week and a half as the subpoena deadlines neared, offering to consider answering written questions while expressing “concerns and objections” about the bulk of the document requests. After Trump missed his first deadline to produce documents on November 4, his team replied on November 9, according to court documents, saying that he wouldn’t testify and found no records to turn over related to personal communications.
“The truth is that Donald Trump, like several of his closest allies, is hiding from the Select Committee’s investigation and refusing to do what more than a thousand other witnesses have done,” Thompson and Cheney wrote. “Donald Trump orchestrated a scheme to overturn a presidential election and block the transfer of power. He is obligated to provide answers to the American people.”
The panel subpoenaed Trump on October 21 seeking documents by November 4 and testimony starting on November 14. When the former president did not turn over documents by the first deadline, Thompson accused Trump’s team of trying to delay, according to court documents.
“Given the timing and nature of your letter – without any acknowledgment that Mr. Trump will ultimately comply with the subpoena – your approach on his behalf appears to be a delay tactic,” Thompson wrote.
In Trump’s lawsuit, his attorneys argued, “the Subpoena’s request for testimony and documents from President Trump is an unwarranted intrusion upon the institution of the Presidency because there are other sources of the requested information, including the thousand-plus witnesses the Committee has contacted and one million documents that the Committee has collected.”
Trump said in the lawsuit that the House’s demands, if he met them, would violate privilege protections around the executive branch, including revealing conversations he had with Justice Department officials and members of Congress about the 2020 election and “pending governmental business.”
He also argued to the court that he shouldn’t have to reveal inner workings about his 2020 presidential campaign, “including his political beliefs, strategy, and fundraising. President Trump did not check his constitutional rights at the Oval Office door. Because the Committee’s Subpoena to President Trump infringes upon his First Amendment rights it is invalid.”
Trump’s attorney, David Warrington, said in a statement with the release of the lawsuit in part that “long-held precedent and practice maintain that separation of powers prohibits Congress from compelling a President to testify before it.”
Trump’s back-and-forth with the House followed by the lawsuit will make it much harder for the committee to enforce the subpoena – and the dispute essentially will be unresolvable before the current Congress expires in January.