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Jan. 6 committee to 'evaluate next steps' after Trump blows off subpoena

The chairman of the committee told NBC News that holding Trump in contempt of Congress “could be an option."
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., presides over a Jan. 6 attack committee hearing on June 23, 2022.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., presides over a Jan. 6 attack committee hearing on June 23, 2022.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

The House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection said it is weighing its options after former President Donald Trump failed to comply with a subpoena calling on him to appear for a closed-door deposition on Monday.

In a statement, the committee's chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and vice chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said Trump was "hiding" days after he filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to deem the subpoena for his testimony invalid.

“Even though the former President initially suggested that he would testify before the committee, he has since filed a lawsuit asking the courts to protect him from giving testimony," Thompson and Cheney said. "The truth is that Donald Trump, like several of his closest allies, is hiding from the Select Committee’s investigation and refusing to do what more than a thousand other witnesses have done."

Trump on Friday asked a court in Florida to block enforcement of the subpoena, which demanded the former president hand over records of any communications he may have had regarding extremist groups involved in the Jan. 6 riot and any attempts of his in the past year to contact witnesses testifying before the committee. The subpoena also required that he sit for a deposition on Nov. 14.

“Donald Trump orchestrated a scheme to overturn a presidential election and block the transfer of power. He is obligated to provide answers to the American people," Thompson and Cheney said in their joint statement. "In the days ahead, the committee will evaluate next steps in the litigation and regarding the former President’s noncompliance.”

Thompson later told NBC News that holding Trump in contempt of Congress “could be an option.”

“The first thing we’ll do is see how we address the lawsuit. And at some point, after that, we’ll decide the path forward,” he said.

The panel earlier this month gave Trump extra time to provide documents after saying it hadn't received the requested records from him.

In their statement Monday, the committee's leaders said Trump's attorneys "have made no attempt to negotiate an appearance of any sort," and that his lawsuit "parades out many of the same arguments that courts have rejected repeatedly over the last year."

NBC News has reached out to one of Trump’s lawyers for comment.

In Friday's lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida, Trump's lawyers argued that he has “absolute testimonial immunity” from being compelled to appear before Congress and that the panel lacked the constitutional authority to issue the subpoena in the first place.

They also argued that the subpoena served a partisan purpose "to punish President Trump, and to score political points.”

The Jan. 6 committee has issued dozens of subpoenas in its probe, and several recipients have mounted unsuccessful legal challenges questioning the legitimacy of the House panel and its investigation.

The committee is getting closer to issuing its final report. Earlier this month, staff members of the panel were informed that the report would focus largely on Trump and much less on findings about failures by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in the lead up to the attack, three sources familiar with the committee’s work told NBC News.

The sources added that the plan was not set in stone and could still change.