Panel probing January 6, 2021 attack on Capitol by Donald Trump's supporters votes unanimously to subpoena ex-president. Trump slams vote and calls the panel "a total 'BUST'."

US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol plays a recording of former president Donald Trump's phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger during what is expected to be their final public hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, October 13, 2022.
US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol plays a recording of former president Donald Trump's phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger during what is expected to be their final public hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, October 13, 2022. (Reuters)

Lawmakers probing the 2021 attack on the US Capitol have voted to subpoena former president Donald Trump to testify on his involvement in the violence, in a major escalation of its sprawling inquiry weeks before it is due to wind up.

In what was expected to be its final hearing before the midterm elections, the House panel of seven Democrats and two Republicans agreed unanimously on Thursday to compel Trump's appearance before investigators.

"We need to be fair and thorough and gain a full context for the evidence we've obtained. But the need for this committee to hear from Donald Trump goes beyond our fact-finding," said Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the committee.

"This is a question about accountability to the American people. He must be accountable. He is required to answer for his actions."

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Trump slams committee over subpoena

Trump immediately denounced a subpoena and asked why he had not been called earlier to testify.

"Why didn't the Unselect Committee ask me to testify months ago?" Trump said on the Truth Social platform after lawmakers looking into the assault on the US Capitol voted to compel his testimony.

"Why did they wait until the very end, the final moments of their last meeting?" Trump asked.

"Because the Committee is a total 'BUST' that has only served to further divide our Country," he said.

Subpoenas from the panel have proved difficult to enforce, with former White House aide Steve Bannon the only target convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to comply.

Trump is notorious for his ability to run down the clock on congressional investigations and legal action, and it remains highly unlikely that he would agree to give evidence.

Any subpoena would expire in any case with the new congressional term in January. 

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Criminal contempt possible

The House of Representatives is expected to be flipped in November elections to the Republicans, who plan immediately to end the investigation.

But the move marks an aggressive escalation of the probe, which has issued more than 100 subpoenas and interviewed more than 1,000 people since its inception in 2021.

While no sitting president has ever been forced to testify before Congress, lawmakers have summoned former presidents to discuss their conduct in office.

If Trump refuses to comply, the full House can hold him in criminal contempt in a vote recommending him for prosecution.

READ MORE: Trump slams US Capitol riot hearings as 'mockery of justice'

Source: TRTWorld and agencies