The House select committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol on January 6 last year is not expected to seek testimony from former President Donald Trump.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, told reporters Tuesday that “it is not our expectation” to ask or force Trump to testify about his attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
Thompson said it’s not clear to committee members how far Trump could go in the committee’s investigation if he were called to testify.
“We are not sure that the evidence we receive can be further validated by their presence,” Thompson said in quotes collected by The Guardian. “I think the concern is whether or not he would add more value with his testimony.”
If Trump were called to testify, he would be expected to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering select questions, just as associates such as attorney John Eastman and former national security adviser Michael Flynn did when they appeared before the committee.
Trump’s compelling testimony would also be a political wild card for the committee, whose work has moved forward without much controversy in recent months. Last week, the committee subpoenaed five Republican members of Congress, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, to testify in the coming weeks.
The other four members cited, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama have been staunch Trump allies. Trump endorsed Brooks in his Senate race in Alabama, but later withdrew his endorsement when Brooks fell behind in the polls.
“Before we hold our hearings next month, we want to give members the opportunity to discuss these matters with the committee on a voluntary basis,” Thompson wrote in a statement about the subpoenas. “Sadly, the people who received the subpoenas today have refused and we are forced to take this step to help ensure that the committee uncovers the facts related to January 6.”
The committee faces a looming time shortage as it works to complete its investigation, as its members, who include Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, will not all be in Congress next year.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department is conducting its own investigation into the Captiol attack and has reportedly asked the House committee for transcripts of his witness testimony. The House committee cannot file criminal charges, but the Justice Department can. It has already charged more than 800 people in relation to the events of January 6.