Jan. 6 committee votes to subpoena Trump

By Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond, Clare Foran and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 11:20 a.m. ET, October 14, 2022
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9:48 a.m. ET, October 14, 2022

Key takeaways from the Jan. 6 committee's 10th public hearing

From CNN’s Jeremy Herb and Zachary Cohen

Rep. Liz Cheney confers with Rep. Jamie Raskin at the conclusion of a hearing on October 13,  in Washington, DC.
Rep. Liz Cheney confers with Rep. Jamie Raskin at the conclusion of a hearing on October 13, in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection held its 10th public hearing, unveiling new evidence and video that showed how former President Donald Trump knew he had lost the election but still went forward with efforts to overturn the results, leading to the attack at the US Capitol.

During the hearing, the panel also voted unanimously to subpoena Trump. It’s rare but not without precedent for Congress to subpoena sitting and former presidents for testimony.

"The need for this committee to hear from Donald Trump goes beyond our fact-finding. This is a question about accountability to the American people. He must be accountable. He is required to answer for his actions," Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson said.

Additionally, in the roughly three months since the last hearing, the panel has obtained more than 1 million records from the Secret Service. These messages revealed agents spotted numerous guns in the crowd the morning of Jan. 6 before Trump was set to speak at the Ellipse. Agents were also aware of the involvement of right-wing groups.

Here are some other key takeaways:

  • Never-before-seen video: The committee played previously unseen footage from Fort McNair, the DC-area Army base where congressional leaders took refuge during the insurrection and scrambled to respond to the unfolding crisis. The footage shows House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, then-Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other top officials working the phones and coordinating with Trump Cabinet members and other officials to secure the resources needed to quell the insurrection and secure the Capitol.
  • Violent online rhetoric: Days before the attack, Trump’s communication adviser, Jason Miller, boasted to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that he “got the base FIRED UP,” and shared a link to a pro-Trump webpage containing hundreds of threatening comments about killing lawmakers. “Our ‘lawmakers’ in Congress can leave one of two ways: 1. in a body bag 2. After rightfully certifying Trump the winner,” one post on the webpage said. “Gallows don’t require electricity,” another post read. The committee said the Secret Service was also monitoring this kind of online activity.
  • Threats against Pence: The Secret Service received alerts of online threats made against then-Vice President Mike Pence ahead of the Capitol insurrection, including that Pence would be "'a dead man walking if he doesn't do the right thing,’” according to committee member Rep. Adam Schiff. On the day of the attack, Pence ultimately rejected pleas from Trump and his top allies to halt certification of Joe Biden's victory
  • Premeditated plan to declare victory: Deposition video and a memo obtained from the National Archives showed how former Vice President Mike Pence’s Counsel, Greg Jacob, and Pence’s then-chief of staff Marc Short prepared for Trump to declare victory on Election Night, regardless of the results. “We also interviewed Brad Parscale, President Trump’s former campaign manager. He told us he understood that President Trump planned as early as July that he would say he won the election, even if he lost,” committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren said.
  • Trump knew he lost — but tried to change results anyway: Cassidy Hutchinson, the former top aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, provided new testimony to the committee relaying anecdotes of Trump acknowledging he had lost the election. Hutchinson’s testimony had been some of the most damning against Trump during the summer hearings, as she provided detailed accounts about Trump’s actions on Jan. 6. On Thursday, the committee showed a new video deposition from Hutchinson where she spoke to Meadows about Trump’s January 2021 call where he urged the Georgia secretary of state to “find” the votes he needed to win. Hutchinson also said that she witnessed a conversation between Meadows and Trump where he was furious the Supreme Court had rejected a lawsuit seeking to overturn the election result.
11:20 a.m. ET, October 14, 2022

New footage shows congressional leadership at Fort McNair on Jan. 6, scrambling to save the US Capitol

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Never-before-seen footage, obtained exclusively by CNN, shows in vivid new detail how congressional leaders fled the US Capitol on Jan. 6 and transformed a nearby military base into a command center, where they frantically coordinated with Vice President Mike Pence and Trump Cabinet members to quell the insurrection and finish certifying the 2020 election. 

The Jan. 6 select committee aired snippets of the footage at its public hearing on Thursday, but CNN has obtained roughly an hour of additional material that wasn't presented by the panel. 

Congressional leaders contemplated, far more seriously than previously known, whether to reconvene the Electoral College proceedings at Fort McNair, the footage obtained by CNN reveals. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with Pence about the "backup plan," and officials tried to figure out how they'd transport hundreds of lawmakers to the Army base. 

The extended raw footage shines a devastating light on then-President Donald Trump's inaction during the riot. Lawmakers are seen working around Trump to secure any help they could get -- from the National Guard, federal agencies and local police departments -- to defeat the mob he incited.

The footage was captured by Alexandra Pelosi, a documentary filmmaker and daughter of the Democratic speaker of the House. The filmmaker provided some of her behind-the-scenes footage to the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the insurrection.

In one dramatic scene, then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer shouted at the Secretary of the Army, Ryan McCarthy, after hearing a rumor that Trump blocked the DC National Guard from rushing to the Capitol. 

"I'd like to know a good God damn reason why it's been denied," Schumer said. "Please — the whole Capitol is rampaged. There is a picture of someone sitting in the chair of the Senate. We've all been evacuated. There have been shots fired. We need a full National Guard component, now." 

McCarthy then assures Schumer that there was no stand-down order for the National Guard.  

And in another shocking moment, Schumer and Pelosi are seen talking to the acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. In a heated phone call, Schumer told Rosen that federal authorities should "make arrests, starting now," but Rosen only offered a halting, non-committal response.

Keep reading.

9:54 a.m. ET, October 14, 2022

Trump was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee. What happens now?

Analysis From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

The House Jan. 6 committee took the extraordinary and theatrical step of voting to subpoena former President Donald Trump on Thursday.

A coda to its public hearings, the subpoena might not lead to Trump’s testimony and handing over of documents, but it will act as a teaser for what’s to come.

The committee still has a report to publish and could also request that the Justice Department pursue charges against Trump or his former aides for their roles in helping to incite the attack on the Capitol and their efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

What happens now? Trump could decide to comply. The committee would then negotiate a time, place and method. That would take time.

If he refuses to comply with the subpoena, here’s what could happen:

  • Contempt. The full House, which is controlled by Democrats until at least January, could vote to hold him in contempt of Congress, something it’s done with several other uncooperative witnesses.
  • Referral. After a contempt of Congress referral, the Justice Department could then prosecute, as it did with Trump’s former aide Steve Bannon and plans to do with his once economic adviser Peter Navarro.
  • Prosecution. If found guilty, as Bannon was, Trump could theoretically face a minimum of 30 days in jail. Bannon will be sentenced for failing to comply with the House subpoena later this month.

This sequence of events seems far-fetched for Trump.

“None of that is going to happen,” the Trump critic and conservative lawyer George Conway predicted during an appearance on CNN on Thursday. “This is about laying a marker. This is about triggering a response [from Trump].”

Trump responded on social media, calling the committee a “BUST” and a “laughing stock” and accusing members of dividing the country.

Conway did point out the Supreme Court has already made clear where it stands on Trump’s status as a former president when it ignored his attempt to block the National Archives from sharing information with the committee.

The court, notably, also declined on Thursday to intervene on Trump’s behalf in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents inquiry.

But the Justice Department, rather than go after Trump for ignoring a congressional subpoena, if it comes to that, has arguably larger and more important inquiries that involve his treatment of classified documents after he left the White House and his effort to overturn the election as president.

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said the Jan. 6 committee feels it has enough information to make referrals to the Department of Justice for prosecutions stemming from the committee’s work. And she noted that more than 30 witnesses have invoked Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination with regard to their dealings with the former President.

10:11 a.m. ET, October 14, 2022

What may come next for the Jan. 6 committee — and its investigation 

From CNN's Zachary Cohen, Jeremy Herb, Annie Grayer and Sara Murray

While Thursday's hearing will be the Jan. 6 committee's last one before the midterm elections, the panel’s work is not yet complete, and aides have cautioned against the hearing being the panel’s final word, noting that the investigation is still ongoing.

The committee just recently interviewed Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and the panel last month subpoenaed Wisconsin GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for testimony, which Vos sued to stop.

The select committee’s investigation has also been working toward a final report, though it’s still not clear what shape that will take or when it might be released. Sources say the panel has also not yet made any decision on whether to make any criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.

But regardless of the status of the investigation, the committee has an external deadline less than three months away: The end of the 117th Congress on Jan. 3, 2023, when Republicans are favored to take control of the House in the midterms.

Should former President Donald Trump object to the committee's subpoena, it could lead to a lengthy court fight that outlives the committee.

6:32 p.m. ET, October 13, 2022

Ginni Thomas' testimony noticeably absent from Jan. 6 committee hearing

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Zachary Cohen, Marshall Cohen and Devan Cole

Virginia Thomas leaves for a break during a closed-door meeting with House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on Capitol Hill on September 29, in Washington, DC.
Virginia Thomas leaves for a break during a closed-door meeting with House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on Capitol Hill on September 29, in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/FILE)

One person whose testimony was noticeably absent from the House select committee's hearing on Thursday was Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Committee members interviewed Thomas last month but ultimately her testimony was not featured as part of the last hearing before the midterm election.

Despite saying for months that they wanted to hear from Thomas, members downplayed the significance of her testimony following her interview, and it was clear ahead of Thursday that she was not expected to be a central part of the hearing that was instead solely focused on former President Donald Trump.

But her absence was notable considering the panel did use testimony from several other high-profile witnesses who had been interviewed since the committee’s most recent hearing earlier this summer.

Some context: Members of the panel have long said they are interested in speaking with Thomas, particularly after CNN first reported text messages she exchanged with then-Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The texts show Thomas urging Meadows to continue the fight to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

The committee also has email correspondence between Thomas and Trump’s election attorney John Eastman.

5:28 p.m. ET, October 13, 2022

Jan. 6 committee chair on whether panel will go to court over Trump subpoena: "Let’s just see what happens"

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer, Manu Raju, Sara Murray and Kristin Wilson

Rep. Bennie Thompson
Rep. Bennie Thompson (CNN)

Asked if the Jan. 6 committee is prepared to go to court if former President Donald Trump fails to comply with the subpoena, the panel's chair Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “Let’s just see what happens.”

“We hope with this subpoenaing of Donald Trump, and his agreeing to it, it closes the chapter on a lot of the evidence we've shared. And so if we get his attention, fine, if not, we'll go with the evidence that we've collected,” Thompson said.

“He’s a former President, we hope that he honors it,” he added.

Thompson also said the subpoena of the former President would allow him to “clear the record” of his own culpability in the events that led to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

“What we presented today clearly shows the President’s culpability in what occurred on Jan. 6. So if he wants to clear the record, he will have an opportunity to do it,” Thompson said. 

When pressed by CNN’s Sara Murray on why Trump would comply with the subpoena when he’s already under criminal investigation and knows the work of the Jan. 6 committee will end, Thompson said, “Well, ask Donald Trump.”

Asked whether there are concerns about getting the work done before the new Congress, he said: “well we’ll do our work until we sunset."

5:18 p.m. ET, October 13, 2022

Jan. 6 committee isn't planning to subpoena Pence, chair says 

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer, Manu Raju, Sara Murray and Kristin Wilson

Rep. Bennie Thompson speaks to the media after the committee voted to subpoena former President Donald Trump
Rep. Bennie Thompson speaks to the media after the committee voted to subpoena former President Donald Trump (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the Jan. 6 committee, told CNN that the panel is not planning to subpoena former Vice President Mike Pence, after they voted to subpoena former President Donald Trump on Thursday afternoon.

The Democrat from Mississippi answered "no" when asked by CNN’s Manu Raju whether it was in the committee's plans.

Thompson also told CNN that the committee’s previous interest in hearing from Pence has waned, saying “we have collected enough evidence" that Pence "did his job."

"We now need to hear from the President," he added.

5:09 p.m. ET, October 13, 2022

Trump blasts Jan. 6 committee for voting to subpoena him

From CNN's Rashard Rose 

Former President Donald Trump is blasting the Jan. 6 committee’s unanimous vote to subpoena him for documents and testimony.

“Why didn’t the Unselect Committee ask me to testify months ago?" he wrote on his Truth Social social media platform, using a derisive moniker for the House select committee on the Jan. 6 attack.

"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?”

Trump has prevented many of his aides from sharing with the committee, urging them to invoke privilege.

More context: The vote took place at the end of today's Jan. 6 hearing, as the panel made its case that Trump lied about the outcome of the 2020 election and spurred on a violent mob of his supporters to attack the Capitol.

It’s rare but not without precedent for Congress to subpoena sitting and former presidents for testimony. The action is expected to trigger a prolonged court battle over Trump’s possible compliance, which could even outlast the committee itself.

Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson said the need to hear from Trump "goes beyond our fact-finding," framing it as a question of "accountability to the American people."

Trump has previously derided the panel as an “Unselect Committee of Political Thugs and Hacks” and said its members are “evil, sinister and unpatriotic.”

CNN's Manu Raju, Jamie Gangel, Annie Grayer and Clare Foran contributed reporting to this post. 

6:42 p.m. ET, October 13, 2022

Rep. Raskin says committee chose to subpoena Trump because witnesses close to him pled the Fifth 

From CNN's Annie Grayer

Rep. Jamie Raskim listens as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing.
Rep. Jamie Raskim listens as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the Jan. 6 committee, told CNN the reason the panel felt it needed to subpoena former President Donald Trump is because it has been unable to nail down his specific actions and conversations.

Raskin added that witnesses closest to Trump, who could provided specifics, have pled the Fifth when interviewed by the committee.

“We actually were able to nail down every salient detail in pretty much every element of the offense, except for a number of things relating directly to what Donald Trump was doing and what he was saying. Obviously, we got some of that, but we didn't get all of it. And so one way of addressing the 30 or so witnesses who took the Fifth when it came to Donald Trump's own actions, is to call Donald Trump in himself” Raskin said.

Raskin pushed back on the notion that this subpoena would merely be a symbolic act that gets tied up in court.

“I want to believe that every American citizen who knows something about these events would come forward to testify and nobody knows more about them than Donald Trump," he said.

But when pressed again on how the committee will handle Trump’s efforts to likely block this subpoena, Raskin said, “we haven't discussed that because you're several hypothetical steps down the road from us. But I'll say this, we certainly have litigated in the past, and I think we've got a pretty unbroken track record of winning our cases precisely because all we're asking people to do is to come forward and testify. And the Supreme Court has been perfectly clear that Congress has the power to do that.”