Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a rally to support Republican candidates ahead of midterm elections, in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. November 7, 2022.
Gaelen Morse | Reuters
Former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Friday night to avoid cooperating with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Trump’s lawyers argue that while “other Presidents and former Presidents have voluntarily agreed to testify or turn over documents in response to a congressional subpoena, no President or former President has ever been compelled to do so,” according to the 41-page filing.
Trump was issued a subpoena by the committee in October and was scheduled to be deposed on Nov. 14, a day before his “big announcement” on Nov. 15 at his Mar-a-Lago resort, where he is widely expected to announce the launch of his 2024 presidential campaign.
Trump attorney David A. Warrington said Trump has engaged in a “good faith effort” to resolve concerns with the committee, but that he has been left with “no choice” but to involve the judicial branch, according to a statement first obtained by Politico.
“Long-held precedent and practice maintain that separation of powers prohibits Congress from compelling a President to testify before it,” Warrington said.
The House select committee voted unanimously on the subpoena and is demanding Trump’s testimony under oath as well as records relevant to the probe into the attack.
“We recognize that a subpoena to a former President is a significant and historic action,” the panel’s leaders wrote Trump in a letter. “We do not take this action lightly.”
The committee is seeking records that include documentation of telephone calls, text messages, or communications sent through the encrypted messaging app Signal, as well as photos, videos and handwritten notes relevant to the scope of the probe.
In the suit, Trump’s attorneys argue that sources other than Trump could provide the committee with the same information, and they claim the subpoena is “incredibly broad” and infringes on his First Amendment rights.
The committee is slated to dissolve at the year’s end, which means the lawsuit and ensuing legal battle will likely outlive the committee itself. It will be difficult for the panel to secure Trump’s testimony before then.
Trump’s lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Florida and has not yet been assigned to a judge.