There is a subpoena out for former president Donald Trump because of his suspected involvement in the uprising at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Getty Images via Brendan Smialowski/AFP remove caption
switch to caption Getty Images via Brendan Smialowski/AFP There is a subpoena out for former president Donald Trump because of his suspected involvement in the uprising at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Getty Images via Brendan Smialowski/AFP It is not well known that Donald Trump cooperates with inquiries into him or his enterprises.
You have to wonder what the former president will do now that the congressional committee looking into the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, has unanimously decided to subpoena him.
Trump doesn’t really have a choice, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland and member of the House select committee said NPR on Friday.
He stated, “Seven previous presidents and numerous current presidents have come to testify before Congress, some of them voluntarily.” “His status as a former president does not give him the right to ignore the law.”
Aziz Huq, a constitutional law expert and University of Chicago law professor, joined All Things Considered to analyze what will happen next.
For length and clarity, this interview has been gently modified.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE INTERVIEW Regarding whether Trump can disregard the summons
A subpoena is a valid request for witnesses or documents to be produced. However, a subpoena must be carried out. The former president would have several possibilities to postpone the process beyond the term of the current Congress, at the very least. Congress must take a few steps before this subpoena would be enforced, and it is likely that any of those actions would take a substantial lot of time.
on the potential consequences for him if he refuses to cooperate
The committee has two primary choices. The first is that it might send the case for prosecution to the Justice Department. A law from 1857 provides for the prosecution of individuals for contempt of Congress. In fact, Steve Bannon was just found guilty in accordance with that law.
The committee’s second option is to take the matter to court directly and file a civil lawsuit to compel the former president to comply with the provisions of the subpoena. If the committee chooses the second option, civil contempt penalties, which could include a fine and, in rare circumstances, jail, are a possibility.
The former president may receive a sentence of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000 if they want to pursue criminal contempt, the Justice Department agrees to file a case, and a judge finds him in contempt.
Regarding what will transpire if Republicans win the House in the forthcoming election and the Jan. 6 committee
The incoming majority would be able to dissolve the Jan. 6 committee and revoke the subpoena against the former president if the Republicans take back control of the House in November. In that scenario, the former president would not be in violation of any laws if he sent material to a committee that was no longer in existence.
Regarding the purpose of the subpoena from a legal perspective
The committee is undoubtedly trying to make a statement regarding the former president’s participation in the activities on January 6. It’s trying to make a point about how the previous president’s alleged involvement is illegal.
It’s not absolutely unthinkable that you might have any sort of legal repercussions as a result of this. The way I picture that happening is the committee agreeing to send a case to the Justice Department for possible prosecution after the November election, and the Justice Department moving forward with that case even after the House has changed hands.
I believe that kind of action would raise a number of unusual legal issues, such as whether criminal contempt proceedings might be brought in response to a subpoena after the subpoena itself has been withdrawn. However, considering the political climate right now, it is at least conceivable.
Whether the matter raises questions about the exercise of separation of powers
This type of disagreement is rare in that all three arms of government are involved right away. The question of whether the legislature should file a lawsuit or require the attorney general to file charges arises right away. Once the Congress has made it clear that it wants him to act, the question of whether executive privilege or another right of the executive branch precludes either the court or the legislature from acting arises. There are definitely concerns with the division of powers at play. The complexity and interconnectedness of those concerns, brought on by the involvement of all three departments, may be what sets this story apart.
On October 13, the members of the House committee looking into the attack on the Capitol on January 6 convened a hearing and decided to summon Trump. AFP/Mandel Ngan via Getty Images remove caption
switch to caption AFP/Mandel Ngan via Getty Images On October 13, the members of the House committee looking into the attack on the Capitol on January 6 convened a hearing and decided to summon Trump.
AFP/Mandel Ngan via Getty Images Whether there is a process in place to hold such a powerful person responsible
I do believe that a Congress might theoretically establish a suitable neutral process for looking into and pursuing punishment or accountability for high-level crime within the executive branch. We’ve attempted that on a few other instances, and at least currently, doing so would conflict with Supreme Court rulings from the past ten or so years that have adopted different interpretations of the Constitution. Therefore, I believe it is feasible to design an efficient system for high-level accountability. Today’s issue, though, is how the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution, making it impossible for those policies to be implemented.
This interview has been modified for the web by Manuela Lopez Restrepo.