Former US President Donald Trump has been subpoenaed by the US House Committee investigating the Janaury 6 riots on the US Capitol.
The committee has called on Trump to testify in front of the panel, as well as requesting documents pertaining to the riots. It is as of yet unclear whether Trump will comply with the order. Lawmakers have argued that the former US leader was a “central cause” of the riots.
It comes as Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon was convicted of contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a similar subpoena. He was sentenced to four months in prison for the offence.
Committee chairman Bennie Thompson and vice chair Liz Cheney wrote in the letter to Trump: “We recognise that a subpoena to a former president is a significant and historic action. We do not take this action lightly.”
What happened at the Jaunary 6 riots?
The riots, which were held on 6 January 2021, saw around 2,000 protesters storm the historic Capitol Building in Washington D.C following the results of the 2020 election. They had gathered after Trump called them to action to protest supposed wrongdoings after the result fell in favour of Joe Biden.
A number of Trump supporters gathered at the political centre in support of the former President, who had been defeated by Joe Biden, in an attempt to delay the counting of electoral votes. During a speech at a rally the same day, the former President is said to have whipped the crowd into a frenzy, telling them: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
The protesters eventually reached the Capitol building, as Congress began officially counting the electoral votes. Capitol police officers were injured as the crowd surged and breached the entry of the building, while makeshift gallows were also constructed outside the building and weapons such as pipe bombs and molotov cocktails were later found near the building.
Members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, were barricaded inside the building for safety while rioters made their way to the Senate chamber. Trump was noted to have held off on calling for the National Guard in response to the violence, instead using Twitter to tell his supporters to “go home in peace”.
At least 138 people were injued in the riots. Five people died as a result of the violence.
What is the committee investigating?
In July 2021, it was announced that the US House Select Committee would be investigating the riots and the cause of the attack. The bipartisan committee has alleged that Trump knew he had legally lost the election and was committing a fraud similar to “criminal conspiricy” in telling his supporters otherwise.
The investigation has so far interviewed around 1,000 in connection with their experience of the riots. Most notably, Trump’s former strategist and long-standing ally, Steve Bannon, was subpoenaed to give evidence, however he chose to ignre the order. As a result, he was convicted of contempt of Congress and sentenced to four months in prison.
The committee also subpoenaed Trump’s former assistant, Peter Navarro, who was also indicted for contempt of Congress, although he has not been convicted. Other Trump staff members to ignore the orders include former chief of staff Mark Meadows and adviser Dan Scavino, although the Justice Department said it would not prosecute them.