(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Liz Cheney said the House Jan. 6 committee is in talks with former President Donald Trump’s lawyers about his potential testimony.
“The committee is in discussions with President Trump’s attorneys and he has an obligation to comply,” Cheney, the vice chair of the committee, said Tuesday during a discussion with PBS journalist Judy Woodruff at Cleveland State University.
“We treat this and take this very seriously,” Cheney added. “This is not a situation where the committee is going to put itself at the mercy of Donald Trump in terms of his efforts to create a circus.”
The House committee took the historic step of formally issuing a subpoena to Trump on Oct. 21.
Trump faces his first deadline this Friday, Nov. 4, the date the subpoena requires him to turn over documents. The subpoena also requires him to appear for one or more days of deposition beginning around Nov. 14.
“As demonstrated in our hearings, we have assembled overwhelming evidence, including from dozens of your former appointees and staff, that you personally orchestrated and oversaw a multi-part effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power,” Cheney and Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote in a letter to Trump.
Trump has not publicly said whether or not he will cooperate with the subpoena. According to sources familiar with his thinking, Trump told advisers he’d welcome a live appearance before the panel. It doesn’t appear the committee is willing to give Trump the benefit of an unfiltered megaphone to repeat falsehoods about the 2020 election.
David Warrington, an attorney for Trump, said the day the issue was subpoenaed they would “review and analyze it, and will respond as appropriate to this unprecedented action.”
Committee members have been split about whether they would want Trump to testify in a live setting, but the panel’s been clear that any testimony would need to happen under oath.
“We haven’t made determinations about the format itself but it will be done under oath, it will be done potentially over multiple days,” Cheney told Woodruff on Tuesday. “We have significant questions based on the evidence that we’ve developed and what we know already about the extent to which he was personally and directly involved in every aspect of the effort.”
Woodruff pressed Cheney on the odds that Trump will testify or not.
“I think he has a legal obligation to testify but that doesn’t always carry weight with Donald Trump,” Cheney said.
Asked if she believes the committee should make a criminal referral to the Justice Department should Trump refuse to comply, Cheney said she didn’t want to get ahead of the panel’s work.
“The committee has been working in a very collaborative way and I would anticipate we won’t have disagreements about that, but we’ll have to make those decisions as we come to it,” she said.
The Jan. 6 committee will conclude its work by the end of the year and produce a report on its findings and recommendations to Congress.
– ABC News’ Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.
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