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Will former US President Donald Trump have to testify if he is subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee?

Trump has been ordered to appear before the committee but there is no guarantee he will show up. Is there a punishment for this?

FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally ahead of the midterm elections, in Mesa, Arizona, U.S., October 9, 2022.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

This week, the January 6 committee met for the first time in months. On the agenda was the usual investigation into the events leading up to and during the riot but there was one big announcement. Every person on the nine-member panel voted in favour of issuing a subpoena to former president Donald Trump.

Representative Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice-chairwoman and one of only two Republicans on the committee, said, “We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion. And every American is entitled to those answers.”

Trump will be summoned to appear before the committee in the coming days or weeks. Don’t expect many new revelations; it is likely he will testify behind closed doors and plead the fifth amendment like many of his colleagues have.

Despite the seriousness of the subpoena, there is no method of enforcing Trump to testify. In a post on his Truth Social network, he dismissed the committee as “a laughing stock.”

What happens if Trump doesn’t testify?

According to House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House, published by the US government, there are punishments for refusing to comply with a subpoena. Under Section 2 of House Practice, the guide notes that under an 1857 statute:

“The wrongful refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena is made punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to one year. A committee may vote to seek a contempt citation against a recalcitrant witness. This action is then reported to the House. 2 USC Sec. 192. If a resolution to that end is adopted by the House, the matter is referred to a US Attorney, who is to seek an indictment. See 2 USC Sec. 194; Manual Sec. 299.”

A recent example of this in action is the contempt of Congress by Steve Bannon. He is looking at up to two years in jail as well as a $200,000 for ignoring a subpoena summons by the January 6 committee.