The House Jan. 6 committee on Thursday voted to subpoena former President Donald Trump to testify under oath and turn over documents related to the 2021 Capitol riot, which the committee described as an attempt to overthrow American democracy.
Rep. Liz Cheney, the most prominent anti-Trump Republican in Congress, put forth the resolution to issue a rare subpoena to a former president. It passed in a unanimous vote by the nine-member panel.
“We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion. Every American is entitled to those answers, so we can act now to protect our republic,” said Ms. Cheney, who was voted out of Congress this year because of her unyielding opposition to Mr. Trump.
She also said the committee has sufficient evidence to make multiple criminal referrals to the Justice Department.
Mr. Trump mocked the subpoena vote.
“Why didn’t the Unselect Committee ask me to testify months ago? Why did they wait until the very end, the final moments of their last meeting? Because the Committee is a total “BUST” that has only served to further divide our Country which, by the way, is doing very badly — A laughing stock all over the World?” he wrote on his Truth Social social media platform.
Thursday’s hearing, expected to be the committee’s last, was the panel’s boldest attempt yet to go directly after Mr. Trump. It was also an eleventh-hour power play by Democrats before the Nov. 8 election when Republicans are expected to win control of the House, which would spell the end of the committee when the new Congress convenes in January.
The subpoena against Mr. Trump is likely to spark a legal battle with the former president, who has dubbed the committee a partisan sham.
Members used the last hearing to highlight what Mr. Trump knew ahead of the riot and the warnings he ignored by the Secret Service and others about potential violence at the Capitol that day.
The committee showed new footage from their interviews with former White House aides, administration officials, and others that corroborated that Mr. Trump had planned to declare a false victory in the 2020 election as early as the summer before Election Day.
Video footage unveiled in the hearing also showed lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, reacting to the rioters attacking the Capitol.
Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, had asked then-Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, as well as the District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, for backup. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, also called administration officials to urge Mr. Trump to help end to the riot.
One video clip showed part of a phone call between Mrs. Pelosi and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Mr. Pence had informed Mr. Schumer and Mrs. Pelosi about reconvening to certify the election “in roughly an hour” and that they would be alerted about procedures for getting members back in the building.
The committee zeroed in on Mr. Trump’s plans to declare victory in the election, allegedly even if he knew he had fairly lost the election.
“His intent was planned. Ignore the rule of law and stay in power,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican on the committee.
The committee presented evidence about Mr. Trump’s anger over his unsuccessful legal challenges of election results and showed videos of Trump allies Roger Stone and Steve Bannon saying the former president had intended to declare himself the winner.
“A lot of times he would tell me that he lost but he wants to keep fighting it. There might be enough to overturn the election but pretty much knowing he lost and he only had weeks left in office,” said Cassidy Hutchinson, former White House aide who previously testified in a committee hearing.
Republican lawmakers came to Mr. Trump’s defense, denouncing the committee as a partisan scheme to politically damage Mr. Trump and block him from another White House run.
“The illegitimate January 6 Committee’s vote to subpoena President Trump is a political hatchet job read by a political hatchet committee. The committee is illegitimately formed, in violation of House rules, and is organized to search and destroy perceived political enemies,” tweeted Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican.
House Judiciary Committee Republicans accused Democrats of ignoring other domestic issues facing the nation.
“The country is experiencing record crime and record inflation,” they tweeted. “Sadly, Democrats can’t get over their weird OBSESSION of President Trump to do anything about it.”
The Jan. 6 committee is expected to put out a report before the end of the 117th Congress.