By Farnosh Amiri and Marie Claire Jalonik
WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) — Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is making it clear that he will defy a subpoena from a House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack, leading to a standoff with the panel over testimony from him and other GOP lawmakers. Will go
In an 11-page letter to the panel Friday, a lawyer for McCarthy argued that the select committee does not have the authority to issue summons to lawmakers under House rules and questions and documents if their client is to comply. demanded a series answer. ,
Attorney Elliot Burke requested “a list of topics the Select Committee would like to discuss with the leader, and the constitutional and legal arguments justifying the request.”
“I expressly reserve the right of Leader McCarthy to claim any other applicable privilege or objection to the Select Committee’s summons,” Burke wrote.
Committee spokesman Tim Mulvey responded Friday evening, “Leader McCarthy and other members who have been summoned are hiding behind baseless arguments and baseless requests for special treatment.”
“The refusal of these members to cooperate is a continuing attack on the rule of law and sets a dangerous new precedent that could impede the House’s ability to supervise in the future,” he said. Mulvey said committee chairman Benny Thompson, D-Miss., “will formally respond to these members in the coming days.”
The House panel believes the testimony of Republican lawmakers is crucial to their investigation because each person was in contact with then-President Donald Trump and his aides in the weeks and days leading up to the Capitol rebellion. Some attended meetings and urged the White House to try to reverse the 2020 presidential results.
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.
His apparent defiance presents a new challenge to the committee when lawmakers decide to take the extravagant and politically risky step of summoning their own allies.
“The House will be changed forever for Republican leaders to agree to participate in this political stunt,” the California lawmaker wrote Thursday in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal with GOP Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio. .
The committee will now have to decide whether to invoke the summons, even as it prepares to conclude the investigation and a series of public hearings in early June. It can refer MPs to the Ethics Committee of the House or take steps to hold them in contempt.
In mid-May, summons were issued to McCarthy, Jordan and Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Moe Brooks of Alabama. The panel has already interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses and collected over 100,000 documents as it investigates the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries.
“I have no relevant information that would advance any legitimate legislative purpose,” Jordan said in a letter detailing his reasons for not cooperating. After the summons was issued, others indicated that they too would not cooperate.
Perry’s lawyer sent a letter to the committee earlier this week saying he “cannot exercise good conscience” with the subpoena because he does not believe it is valid under House rules.
Requests for comment from Biggs and Brooks were not immediately returned.
The panel had previously asked five lawmakers for voluntary cooperation, along with some other GOP members, but all declined to speak with the panel, which has spent months debating whether to issue subpoenas.
McCarthy and others were called to testify before investigators this week and next week. McCarthy, who aspires to become House speaker if Republicans win a majority next year, indicated that the committee’s decision would have a lasting effect.
“Every representative in the minority shall be subject to a majority vote, under oath, without any grounds of impartiality and forcible interrogation at the expense of the taxpayers,” he wrote in the op-ed.
In a separate move, McCarthy and No. 2 House Republican, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, filed a court brief in support of Donald Trump aide Steve Bannon, who pleaded guilty to criminal contempt for defying a subpoena from the committee. facing charges. In short, lawyers for both write that the committee does not have authority to issue summons, an argument that has been overruled in other court proceedings.
The attorneys also wrote that McCarthy and Scalise briefly filed the rules and order “out of concern for potential harm to the House Institutional.”