The US House of Representatives committee of inquiry into the January 2021 Capitol storming announced Thursday its decision to summon Donald Trump. Will the former president finally testify? Where is the work of the panel and what will become of it after the mid-term elections?
Here’s what we know about the fate of the commission investigating the Capitol riots.
the last straight line
The commission is approaching its expiration date. Its useful life is, in effect, linked to the current Congress, which will be largely renewed after the parliamentary elections on November 8.
If the Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives from the Democrats, they intend to dissolve the panel in January. Therefore, the commission must present the report that concludes its extensive investigation before the end of the year. And according to his own rules, he must finish his work one month after the publication of his final report.
“We’re like Cinderella at midnight, our license ends at the end of the year,” one of its members, Jamie Raskin, told CBS in September.
The commission, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, could release a provisional text before November 8. Was Thursday’s public hearing the last? The panel remains vague on the subject.
If Trump testifies, another session could be on the agenda.
Will Trump testify?
The Republican mogul has not said whether he will comply with the subpoena. He reacted to the announcement of his subpoena on his social network Truth Social by describing in his usual angry style the group of legislators as a “FIASCO” that had “divided the country”.
For New York University law professor Stephen Gilles, “Trump clearly won’t deliver.”
“It is likely that the Republicans will take control of the House (of Representatives) in January and that he will breach the subpoena,” he told AFP.
If the former president acts in this way, he can be declared in contempt of Congress and sent to the Department of Justice for eventual prosecution.
If Trump appeals to the Supreme Court, he could stop the process, even for months, a time that the commission does not have.
But even if he appears before parliamentarians, Trump could invoke his right not to answer questions under the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution, so as not to risk incriminating himself.
Given all of the above, why did the commission issue its surprise announcement anyway?
The most likely reason, according to Professor Gillers, is that it is “to prevent Trump from complaining later that the commission was unfair because he never gave him the opportunity to testify.” “The commission says: ‘Here is the opportunity,'” he explains.
Is it therefore wishful thinking that Trump could appear before elected officials? Maybe not.
According to the New York Times and its Donald Trump reporter, Maggie Haberman, the former president told relatives he was inclined to say yes to the subpoena, as long as he could testify live.
Will the commission push for allegations at the highest level against Trump and his associates?
“Our panel may decide to go to the Justice Department on a number of issues, but we recognize that our role is not to make procedural decisions,” Liz Cheney, the panel’s vice chair, said Thursday.
The last word will have the Secretary of Justice, Merrick Garland.
Known for being methodical and careful, the latter does not exclude anything. “All those who are criminally responsible for the attempts to invalidate the elections will have to answer for their actions,” he said.
The commission could also make legislative recommendations to protect the certification process of the electoral results, so that events like those of January 6, 2021 cannot happen again.