The subpoena from the select committee required Trump to appear for a deposition on Monday, though he appeared willing to challenge that delay. Trump’s lawsuit effectively dooms any chance for the panel to compel his testimony, guaranteeing a complex and lengthy legal battle that will certainly last beyond the lifespan of the committee. The panel is expected to disband at the end of the year.
“President Trump, as a former President of the United States, enjoys absolute immunity from being compelled to testify before Congress regarding his actions while in office,” the lawsuit states. “The Committee’s subpoena is explicitly addressed to President Trump in his capacity as a former President, seeking information about his actions as President, and for the purpose of regulating future Presidents and is therefore invalid.”
Prospects for the subpoena to obtain Trump’s testimony have always seemed remote for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the Justice Department is conducting an ongoing criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
In a Nov. 9 letter to the panel, Trump’s attorney, David Warrington, said Trump would decline to appear in person but would consider answering written questions.
The select committee appeared to anticipate this outcome, accusing Trump’s lawyers in a Letter of November 4 to deploy a “delaying tactic” by raising voluminous objections to the specific requirements of the committee’s subpoena.
“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 delaying tactic,” President Bennie Thompson wrote. .
The panel expressed a particular interest in obtaining details from Trump of any phones or other communication devices he may have used between November 3, 2020 and January 20, 2021.
Trump’s attorney responded with a 24 page missive on November 9 raising even more objections and suggesting terms of cooperation that were almost certain to be non-starters for the select committee.
“Any solution should take into account the Committee’s desire for information and President Trump’s concerns about this highly unusual congressional intrusion into the interests of the executive and the practical difficulties posed by the Committee’s eleventh-hour subpoena. “, Warrington wrote in the Nov. 9 letter.
Adding to feelings that the subpoena was unlikely to produce Trump’s testimony is the expected Republican takeover of Congress early next year. POLITICO has yet to announce the outcome of enough races to confirm the Republicans will take control, but that’s still the expected outcome. The panel is expected to disband shortly after its final report is released in December.
The only former president subpoenaed by a House or Senate committee since 1900 was Harry Truman, who refused to comply, and former presidential aides have long claimed immunity from being compelled to appear before Congress. .
A spokesperson for the committee declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Warrington, who handled negotiations between Trump and the Jan. 6 committee, said litigation was necessary because those talks did not result in an agreement for Trump’s testimony.
“He engaged with the Committee in a good faith effort to resolve these issues in accordance with executive prerogatives and the separation of powers,” Warrington said in a statement shared with POLITICO. “But this partisan committee insists on pursuing a political course, leaving President Trump with no choice but to involve the third branch, the judicial branch, in this dispute.”
The lawsuit was filed by Warrington and other attorneys at his firm, Dhillon Law Group. The case has not yet been referred to a judge.