After the Jan. 6 committee voted to subpoena Donald Trump yesterday afternoon, it wasn’t long before the former president responded with a trio of missives on his social media platform, none of which addressed whether the Republican would honor the congressional summons.
One of the items did peddle a familiar lie — Trump said the panel hasn’t examined “the massive voter fraud which took place during the 2020 Presidential Election.”
The question remained: What did he intend to do about the subpoena vote? This morning, the former president released a deeply odd, 14-page letter to the House select committee, the first sentence of which read, “THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 2020 WAS RIGGED AND STOLEN!”
In reality, the election was neither rigged nor stolen — even Trump knows he lost — and his meandering letter did not improve after that unfortunate opening:
“Despite very poor television ratings, the Unselect Committee has perpetuated a Show Trial the likes of which this Country has never seen before. There is no Due Process, no Cross-Examination, no ‘real’ Republican members, and no legitimacy since you do not talk about Election Fraud or not calling up the troops. It is a Witch Hunt of the highest level, a continuation of what has been going on for years.”
As part of the brazenly dishonest letter, the Republican proceeded to whine about the House select committee failing to explore “the massive size” of the Jan. 6 crowd. (This remains the one element of Jan. 6 that Trump cares about most.)
He also made more specific claims about fraud, which have been thoroughly and completely discredited.
At no point, however, did Trump get around to saying whether he’d testify or not.
It’s worth emphasizing that those expecting the Republican to honor the subpoena are likely to be disappointed. He could begin a lengthy court fight that would take months to fully resolve, but it’s just as likely that Trump and his lawyers will simply try to run out the clock: As we discussed yesterday, the pending summons will expire at the end of the current Congress, which will wrap up in roughly 80 days, and if Americans elect a Republican majority in the House, that will end the matter.
To be sure, this might make him look like something of a coward. The former president has had plenty to say about Jan. 6 and the investigation — in conservative media, at rallies, and online — but given a chance to answer questions under oath, Trump’s too afraid to respond to a legal subpoena? A profile in courage it is not.
Of course, as his lawyers have probably explained to him, it’s better to look like a coward than to show up and deliver incriminating testimony in the midst of multiple investigations.
There is, however, one related angle to keep an eye on: The New York Times reported that Trump has told his aides that he actually wants to testify, “so long as he gets to do so live.”
Whether the select panel would tolerate such a spectacle is unclear, though it seems unlikely. Watch this space.