The House committee investigating the Capitol riot won't give former President U.S. Donald Trump the chance to turn a possible live TV appearance of his subpoenaed testimony into a "circus" and "food fight" as lawmakers try to ensure he complies with their demands, the panel's vice chair Liz Cheney said on Sunday.
The committee is demanding Trump's testimony under oath next month as well as records relevant to its investigation. To avoid a complicated and protracted legal battle, Trump reportedly had told associates he might consider complying with the subpoena if he could answer questions during live testimony.
When asked if the committee would consider taking his testimony live, Cheney on Sunday did not directly respond. She said the committee would not allow Trump's testimony to turn into a "food fight" on TV – much as was seen, she said, in Trump's broadcast appearances such as one of his 2020 presidential debates – and she warned that the committee will take action if he does not comply with the subpoena.
"We are going to proceed in terms of the questioning of the former president under oath," Cheney said on "Meet the Press" on NBC. "It may take multiple days, and it will be done with a level of rigor and discipline and seriousness that it deserves. We are not going to allow – he's not going to turn this into a circus."
"We have many, many alternatives that we will consider if the former president decides he is not going to comply with his legal obligation, a legal obligation every American citizen has to comply with a subpoena," she said.
Her office made clear later that she and the Jan. 6 committee were not ruling out the possibility of live testimony. It did not indicate what form that might take to avoid the "food fight"or "circus" that Cheney said would not happen.
The subpoena, issued Friday, calls on Trump to hand over documents by November 4 and provide testimony "on or about" November 14. Trump has repeatedly lashed out at the committee and its members. He has also questioned the timing of the panel's vote to subpoena him.
Last week, Steve Bannon, a longtime Trump ally, was sentenced to serve four months behind bars after defying a subpoena from the same committee. He remains free pending appeal. Former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro also awaits a trial next month on similar contempt of Congress charges.
On January 6, 2021, a large crowd of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and disrupted a joint session of Congress to affirm the 2020 presidential election results.
Approximately 140 police officers were assaulted. Authorities have linked at least five deaths to the mayhem.
It was the worst attack on the U.S. Congress in more than 200 years, which led to Trump's second impeachment by the House of Representatives shortly before his term officially ended.