Should he or shouldn’t he? Should Donald Trump comply, ignore, stonewall – or flip the narrative – on the climactic demand of the January 6 Committee? Will the Trump subpoena, transparently timed for maximum effect in the waning days of the midterm election campaign, serve as another – and perhaps final – nail in the former president’s political and legal coffin? Or might it actually, ironically – and much to the horror of Democrats far and wide – achieve the opposite?
This was a classic October surprise in the fine tradition of the George W. Bush DWI revelation in 2000, Trump’s gross locker room-style video in 2016, and the Hunter Biden laptop story suppressed by big media in 2020 – only this time, it was perpetrated against a person not even on the ballot. But anyone paying attention to the months-long, scrupulously orchestrated Jan. 6 narrative rolled out by Trump’s enemies would likely not be taken aback by either the subpoena or the unanimous vote in favor of it. At the same time, the nation also witnessed the continued cowardice of Democrats in presenting as the face of the committee not one of their own, but an outlying Republican, despised by most in her own party and beaten to a pulp in a GOP primary – in a state where her father and family name were gold.
Indeed, Liz Cheney’s latest sanctimonious shilling benefitting the same Democrats against whom she has fought for her entire adult life until Trump came along, is yet another reminder of how she is, to say the least, damaged goods, entirely unrepresentative of her party, and treasonous in the eyes of many. And her announcement of the subpoena may serve as her final act of relevance on the public stage. Once Democrats likely surrender control of the House in January of 2023, and Cheney departs the stage, Republicans will flip the script and possibly unleash a number of their own investigations – starting with revelations on the Hunter Biden laptop tying his father, the 46th president, to his shady dealings overseas.
Responding to the Trump Subpoena
But in the meantime, the first option for Trump in responding to the subpoena would be to actually comply, to provide the documents and testimony demanded by the committee. The second option would be the opposite, to stonewall, refuse to cooperate, and dare the committee to charge him with contempt of Congress. But it is a third option that might prove most attractive for the former president.
Considering the high probability of Republicans gaining control of the House, Trump could delay his response for another month or so, until after the November 8 elections, and with an altered political climate now assured and his party in a celebratory mood, he could then offer to testify before a lame-duck House. He could begin his testimony by asserting, as only he can, that the Democrats’ embarrassing defeat proves that the voters disapprove of the witch hunt they have conducted against him. He could – and most certainly would – claim credit for the GOP triumph and he would crow even louder if Republicans also capture the Senate. But most of all, he could defend himself in the absence of a single dissenting voice on the Committee – or among witnesses, for that matter. This would again place him exactly where he wants to be – in the spotlight. For what it’s worth, the New York Times’ “Trump-whisperer” Maggie Haberman claims that Trump has told aides that he would agree to testify if the hearing was carried live on TV.
Of course, the decision to appear would have to be weighed against the risk inherent in Trump continuing his outspoken claims of a stolen election and other explosive statements to which he is famously prone, and which could hurt his likely bid for a second term. But Trump openly complained about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s decision to leave real Republicans – as opposed to the radically anti-Trump duo of Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – off the committee, leaving no one to defend him. So, it would be surprising if he passed on the opportunity to strike back at the Democrats by stating his own case.
Trump has long depicted his fight as one man against an entire corrupt political establishment. This time, he has been presented with the chance to defend himself in the climax of this Soviet-style show trial passing as a nonpartisan congressional investigation committee. With Democrats aiming all their guns at him like a firing squad, it would prove to be the ultimate test of his viability as a candidate in 2024. But one way or another, you can be certain that, as always, the 45th president will milk this latest turn of events for all it’s worth.