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Expert Says Trump Could Face Perjury Charge If He Lies at Live Jan. 6 Deposition

Trump has reportedly told aides he favors going before the select committee, but only if he can appear on live TV.

Then-President Donald Trump is seen on the screen as the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing on Capitol Hill on October 13, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Members of the House select committee investigating the attack on the United States Capitol building on January 6, 2021, are reportedly split on whether they should allow former President Donald Trump the opportunity to appear on live television to deliver a deposition.

During what may have been its final live hearing, the January 6 committee last week voted unanimously to subpoena Trump. After doing so, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman said that people close to Trump said he wanted to comply with their order to testify — but only if he could do so during another live hearing.

“The former president has been telling aides he favors doing so, so long as he gets to do so live, according to a person familiar with his discussions,” Haberman reported.

According to other reports, Trump’s advisers are urging him to fight the subpoena order and not appear for a deposition, but the former president appears to be committed to the idea of speaking to the committee, so long as he appears on live TV.

Some members of the committee themselves are wary about allowing Trump to testify under those conditions, ABC News reported on Monday. Trump could use the opportunity to continue pushing false election fraud claims and to downplay his involvement in the plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

But “there appears to be more of an openness among committee members to have him appear live,” ABC News reported.

If he does testify, Trump could perjure himself, telling the committee a lie that he knows is false, resulting in a felony charge against him. It is against the law “to make false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements before any department or agency of the United States, including congressional committees,” although a perjury charge is limited to statements that relate to the purpose of the committee’s work.

Even with those exceptions in mind, Trump’s response to the committee that the former president published last week, if said aloud during his deposition, would render him a perjury charge, some legal experts have said.

Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, noted that Trump’s response, which contained many falsehoods and errant accusations about the committee itself, wouldn’t be deemed protected speech under federal perjury laws.

“Trump’s rambling non-responsive response is no substitute for testimony under oath,” Tribe said on Twitter. “If he swore to much of what [his] BS reply says, he’d be guilty of perjury.”

The committee hasn’t yet given an official response to the possibility of Trump giving a live deposition, but some members of the panel, including Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), have discussed the idea.

Appearing on ABC News’s “This Week” program on Sunday, Kinzinger said that any live appearances by Trump would require “a negotiation” between the committee and his legal team. Kinzinger is also skeptical about the reports themselves, believing that Trump may change his mind about the plan.

“I have long learned in this that people will say something publicly” before choosing to do something else, Kinzinger said.