Litman: The House subpoena may not force Trump to testify about Jan. 6, but it’s not an empty gesture
It may come as a surprise, but the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Donald Trump.
It may seem counterintuitive that someone in charge of the Justice Department — the person who’s supposed to be enforcing the law — is being investigated. But that day’s news reports will no doubt indicate just how odd the circumstance is. Trump, who’s said he would refuse to comply with the subpoena — which is the standard in these matters — has not indicated a willingness to comply, which makes many question how the House of Representatives may proceed. There are indications that the president may have a defense against the committee’s subpoena, and it would be the perfect opportunity for him to make a case against the allegation that he engaged in a campaign of obstruction of justice, potentially impeachable conduct.
“Mr. Trump has been subpoenaed. We have yet to receive his answer to these questions,” said the White House counsel.
But the subpoena may not actually force Trump to either appear or furnish documents. It is being held in abeyance until July 9, when the full House votes on whether or not to impeach Trump on two counts: obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.
And that vote, in turn, could happen as soon as this week. “There’s no doubt impeachment is on the calendar,” said a House aide. “And there’s no question impeachment hearings are scheduled for the middle of the month.”
But it’s also possible that this subpoena could be a bluff, to scare the president into compliance or for some other reason. Indeed, Trump’s lawyer on the matter, John Dowd, told the New York Times that the House subpoena had a legitimate use.
“I think that the committee has the right to investigate, but I think we have to take