A House panel on Thursday summoned House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and four other Republican lawmakers into an investigation into the violent January 6 uprising, an extraordinary move that has little precedent and is sure to further fuel partisan tensions over the 2021 attack .
The panel is investigating McCarthy’s conversations with then-President Donald Trump on the day of the attack and four other lawmakers held earlier meetings with the White House as Trump and his aides worked to reverse their 2020 election defeat. Supporters of the former president violently pushed police that day, smashing the Capitol’s windows and doors and obstructing President Joe Biden’s certification of victory.
The decision to issue summons to McCarthy, R-California, and Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Mo Brooks of Alabama is a theatrical show of force by the panel, who has already interviewed nearly Collected 1,000 witnesses and over 100,000 documents as it investigates the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries.
The move is not without risk, as Republicans favor capturing a House majority in this fall’s midterm elections and have promised retaliation for Democrats if they take control.
Following the announcement, McCarthy, who aspires to become House Speaker, told reporters “I have not seen a subpoena” and said his view on the January 6 committee had not changed since a nine-legislative panel earlier this year called for his Voluntary cooperation was asked. ,
“They are not doing a legitimate investigation,” McCarthy said. “It’s like they just want to go after their political opponents.”
Similarly, Perry told reporters that the investigation was a “drunken one” and that the summons was “all about the headlines.”
No one said whether it would comply.
The panel, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, had previously sought voluntary cooperation from five lawmakers along with some other GOP members, but all of them declined to speak with the panel, which debated for months whether to issue the subpoenas.
“Before our hearing next month, we wanted to provide members with the opportunity to voluntarily discuss these matters with the committee,” said Mississippi Rep. Benny Thompson, the panel’s Democratic chairman. “Sadly, the individuals who received the summons today have refused and we are compelled to take this step to help ensure that the committee uncovers facts relating to January 6th.”
The panel’s Republican vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, said the move was not taken lightly. He said the reluctance of lawmakers to provide relevant information about the attack, “is a very serious and dire situation.”
Congressional summons to current members of Congress, especially to a party leader, has been rare in recent decades, and it is not clear if any or all of the five refuse to comply. What will be the implications. The House has voted to hold two other non-trial witnesses, former Trump aide Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows, in contempt, referring their cases to the Justice Department.
Announcing the subpoenas, the January 6 panel noted that there is historical precedent for the move and noted that the House Ethics Committee has “issued a number of subpoenas to members of Congress for evidence or documents,” although such actions are generally But done in secret.
“We believe this is quite unprecedented,” said Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, the other GOP member of the panel, after the committee’s summons was announced. “But the January 6 attack was very unprecedented.”
Kizinger said that “it’s important for us to get as much information as possible.”
McCarthy has admitted that he spoke with Trump on January 6 as Trump supporters were beating police outside the Capitol and forcing them to enter the building. But he did not share much details. The committee sought information about his conversations with Trump before, during and after the riots.
McCarthy went on the floor of the House after the rioters were cleared and said in a loud speech that Trump “takes responsibility” for the attack and that it was “the saddest day I’ve ever had” in Congress – even That he joins 138 other House Republicans who voted to reject the election results.
Another member of the GOP caucus, Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beitler said after the attack that McCarthy said he had publicly told Trump to “stop the rioting” and that the violent mob was made up of Trump supporters, not far-left Antifa members, as in Trump claimed.
“That’s why, according to McCarthy, the president said, ‘Well, Kevin, I think these people are more upset about the election than you are,'” Herrera Beutler said in a statement last year.
The GOP leader soon settled with Trump, however, to meet with him in Florida and rally House Republicans to vote against an investigation into the attack.
The other four were in contact with the White House for several weeks before the rebellion, talking to Trump and his legal advisers about ways to halt the January 6 congressional election count to certify Joe Biden’s victory. .
“These members include people who attended meetings at the White House, who had direct conversations with President Trump during and during the attack on the Capitol, and who were involved in planning and coordinating certain activities on and before January.” 6th,” the committee said in a release.
Brooks, who has been critical of Trump ever since, spoke with the former president at a massive rally in front of the White House on the morning of January 6, telling supporters to “start taking names and kicking ass” before broke into hundreds of them. capital.
Perry spoke to the White House about replacing Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with an official who was more sympathetic to Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, and called on Biggs to bring protesters to Washington and legitimize state officials. were involved in a plan to press for reversing the election results, according to the panel. Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, spoke to Trump on January 6 and was also involved in planning a strategy to reverse the election.
Many of his efforts were detailed in texts issued to the panel by Meadows, who was Trump’s chief of staff at the time.
“11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to the inauguration,” Perry texted Meadows on December 26, 2020. “we have to leave!”