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Jan. 6 committee won’t let Trump’s testimony become ‘a circus,’ Cheney says

(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Liz Cheney said Sunday that while the House Jan. 6 committee was “anticipating” that former President Donald Trump would comply with the subpoena the panel issued to him last week, “He’s not going to turn this into a circus.”

That meant that committee members likely weren’t interested in Trump testifying live before the committee in a public setting, as some past witnesses have, Cheney, R-Wyo., said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

“The committee treats this matter with great seriousness,” she said. “And we are going to proceed in terms of the questioning of the former president under oath. It may take multiple days. And it will be done with a level of rigor and discipline and seriousness that it deserves.”

If and when Trump sits for questioning, Cheney said, the format wouldn’t be like “his first debate against Joe Biden and the circus and the food fight that that became. This is far too serious set of issues. And we’ve made clear exactly what his obligations are.”

Should Trump refuse to cooperate or fight the subpoena in court, Cheney said, “We have many, many alternatives that we will consider.” But she noted that Congress’ demands apply to everyone — not just Trump.

“We’ve made clear in the subpoena a number of things, including that if he intends to take the Fifth [Amendment against self-incrimination] that he ought to alert us of that ahead of time,” Cheney said.

The Jan. 6 committee last week formally issued its subpoena to Trump after earlier voting to approve such a move during the last public hearing. Subpoenaing a former president is a rare though not unprecedented step.

The subpoena requires Trump to turn over documents by Nov. 4 and to appear for one or several days of deposition under oath beginning on Nov. 14.

“We recognize that a subpoena to a former President is a significant and historic step,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Cheney, the committee chair and vice-chair, respectively, wrote in a letter to Trump on Friday. “We do not take this action lightly.”

In response, an attorney for Trump claimed the committee was “flouting norms.”

“We understand that, once again, flouting norms and appropriate and customary process, the Committee has publicly released a copy of its subpoena. As with any similar matter, we will review and analyze it, and will respond as appropriate to this unprecedented action,” said David Warrington, a partner at Dhillon Law Group.

In a series of hearings this summer and fall, the Jan. 6 committee has cited extensive witness testimony, documents and other materials from Trump’s aides and advisers in building a case that he was aware he had lost to Joe Biden in 2020 but illegally tried to stay in power while urging his supporters — some of whom he knew were armed — to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, leading to the riot.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and accused the committee of politically persecuting him while not presenting his defense of his actions.

Only two Republicans sit on the panel: Cheney and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, both of whom are leaving Congress in January.

Kinzinger said last week on ABC’s This Week that potential live testimony from Trump would require “negotiation.”

“He’s made it clear he has nothing to hide, [that’s] what he said. So he should come in on the day we asked him to come in. If he pushes off beyond that, we’ll figure out what to do next,” Kinzinger said then.

The committee’s work is likely to be walked back and scrutinized should the GOP retake the House in November.

Cheney acknowledged that in her appearance on Meet the Press.

“If we were in a nation where our politics were operating the way they should, the investigation would proceed no matter what,” she said.

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