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Jan. 6 Panel Votes to Subpoena Trump as It Wraps Up Its Case


WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol voted on Thursday to subpoena former President Donald J. Trump because it presented a sweeping summation of its case placing him at the middle of a calculated, multipart effort to overturn the 2020 election, starting even before Election Day.

At what could have been its final public hearing and just weeks before midterm elections during which control of Congress is at stake, the panel knit together evidence and testimony from its nine previous presentations while introducing latest revelations about Mr. Trump’s central role in quite a few plots to keep up power.

The committee specified by vivid detail how Mr. Trump, enraged and embarrassed that he had lost the election and unwilling to simply accept that fact, sought to affix the group he had summoned to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, because it marched to the Capitol — knowing that a few of his supporters were armed and threatening violence as Congress met to certify his defeat.

“None of that is normal, acceptable or lawful in our republic,” said Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the committee’s vice chairwoman.

The committee also showed previously unreleased video from the secure location where congressional leaders hunkered down while the Capitol was under attack. The footage offered a glimpse of the shock and disbelief that gripped them as they urgently phoned governors and top national security officials in efforts to summon the National Guard or get Mr. Trump to call off the assault.

After nearly two and a half hours, the committee wrapped up with a direct challenge to the previous president, voting to subpoena him to seem for a proper deposition, a step that’s exceedingly unlikely given his refusal to cooperate within the inquiry, and may lead to a bitter legal battle.

“He’s the one person at the middle of the story of what happened on Jan. 6,” said Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the committee’s chairman.

“He have to be accountable,” Mr. Thompson added. “He’s required to reply for his actions.”

The previous president publicly attacked the committee, but has been telling aides privately that he favors testifying before the panel so long as he gets to accomplish that live, in line with an individual acquainted with his discussions. The lawmakers have rejected similar demands from other witnesses, but preliminary discussions among the many panel members indicated more openness to a live interview with Mr. Trump.

Either way, the vote was a unprecedented turn of events provided that Mr. Trump, who has made little secret of his eagerness to run for re-election in 2024, continues to exert heavy influence on the Republican Party, whose ranks are stuffed with election deniers who embrace the lies that inspired the Capitol attack.

The hearing on Thursday got here at a pivotal moment, weeks before elections during which Republicans are favored to win the House majority and as time is most probably running out for the panel to finish its work, including an in depth report on its findings. Should Republicans win control in November, they’d be all but certain to disband the committee in January and shut down any further official accounting by Congress for essentially the most severe attack on the Capitol in centuries.

So on Thursday, the committee sought to dramatize the stakes of its work.

In a single particularly chilling segment of the hearing, the panel played video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi huddling with other congressional leaders after being evacuated from the Capitol, reaching out to law enforcement and military officials and begging for the National Guard to assist put down the violence.

“Do you think this?” Ms. Pelosi says to colleagues as she receives reports that lawmakers are donning gas masks on the House floor to organize for a breach.

Later, Senator Chuck Schumer of Recent York, the Democratic leader, is seen speaking loudly into his signature flip phone, apparently during a call with Jeffrey A. Rosen, then the acting attorney general, imploring him to get Mr. Trump to ask his supporters to go away the Capitol, where Mr. Schumer notes that some senators are still hiding of their offices.

“Why don’t you get the president to inform them to go away the Capitol, Mr. Attorney General, in your law enforcement responsibility?” Mr. Schumer said.

How Times reporters cover politics. We depend on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they should not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.

The stunning behind-the-scenes look got here because the panel delivered what amounted to a closing argument to an investigation that began 15 months ago. Members took turns laying out an indictment of Mr. Trump, telling a story that began in the summertime of 2020 and, by their very own account, has still not ended.

Well before any votes were forged, the committee members said, Mr. Trump had hatched a plan to easily claim victory on Election Day.

“The ballots counted by the Election Day deadline show the American people have bestowed on me the nice honor of re-election to president of the US — the deadline by which voters in states across the country must select a president,” Tom Fitton, a right-wing activist who heads the group Judicial Watch, suggested Mr. Trump say in a press release, effectively discounting lawfully forged early and absentee votes.

Mr. Fitton, who offered the recommendation days before the election, indicated in a text message presented by the panel that he had discussed the concept with Mr. Trump.

And the committee showed how the president embraced that approach, despite the recommendation of aides who told him on election night that he couldn’t say he had won. With a coterie of allies, Mr. Trump then sought to stave off his defeat by spreading lies that voting across the country had been marred by widespread fraud.

“This big lie, President Trump’s effort to persuade Americans that he had won the 2020 election, began before the election results even got here in,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California. “It was intentional, it was premeditated, it was not based on election results or any evidence of actual fraud affecting the outcomes or any actual problems with voting machines.”

Though dozens of courts ruled against him and his own advisers ultimately told him to concede, Mr. Trump stubbornly ignored the facts, the committee said, and aggressively pressured state officials, strong-armed Justice Department leaders and sought to create fake slates of electors in states that had been won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Then, along with his hold on power slipping, Mr. Trump called a crowd to Washington on Jan. 6, mobilizing each strange supporters and far-right extremists, a few of whom had expressed their violent intentions in the times leading as much as the event, the committee said. As a whole bunch of individuals stormed the Capitol that day, assaulting cops and disrupting the certification of the election, Mr. Trump effectively turned his back on the chaos he helped sow.

Chief among the many latest revelations on the hearing was that the Secret Service was aware before Jan. 6 that some Trump supporters were using online forums to debate plans for violence, including plots to storm the Capitol. Mr. Trump and key members of his security detail knew on the day of the attack that many individuals in the group that had gathered to listen to him speak in Washington were carrying weapons and were possibly dangerous, the committee said.

The panel plans to proceed investigating the Secret Service’s role in Jan. 6, including testimony it has received about “potential obstruction” and “advice given not to inform the committee” about certain incidents, said Representative Pete Aguilar, Democrat of California and a committee member.

The panel presented more evidence that Mr. Trump had been told by several of his own top advisers, including his daughter Ivanka Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that he had lost the election and may abide by the selections of greater than 60 courts that had ruled against his claims of fraud.

But Mr. Trump, mortified by his losses in court, couldn’t bear to accomplish that, in line with a recorded interview with Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s final chief of staff.

“He said something to the effect of: ‘I don’t want people to know we lost, Mark. That is embarrassing,’” Ms. Hutchinson recalled within the interview.

Still, it was unclear whether the panel would have a likelihood to listen to from Mr. Trump himself. Several former presidents voluntarily testified before Congress — including Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman and Gerald R. Ford — but there is no such thing as a Supreme Court precedent that claims whether Congress has the facility to compel a former president to testify about his actions in office.

And two former presidents have been issued congressional subpoenas, John Quincy Adams and John Tyler. While Mr. Tyler testified, Mr. Adams submitted a deposition.

Mr. Thompson told reporters after the hearing that the panel didn’t plan to subpoena Vice President Mike Pence, who was the goal of Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn the election.

Ms. Cheney, who has arguably been the driving force behind the committee and recently lost a bid to maintain her seat in a primary against a Trump-backed challenger, closed the hearing by suggesting that the panel had evidence to make a criminal referral of Mr. Trump to the Justice Department.

Then Ms. Cheney called for the total committee to vote on whether to issue the subpoena to Mr. Trump.

“We’re obligated to hunt answers from the person who set this all in motion,” she said. “And each American is entitled to those answers.”

Every member voted aye.

Maggie Haberman, Charlie Savage and Stephanie Lai contributed reporting.

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