Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Kevin McCarthy and four other House Republicans
The move marks a significant escalation in the committee’s efforts to obtain information related to lawmakers’ communications with President Donald Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows before, during and after the attack.
The status of the main investigations involving Donald Trump
The five Republican lawmakers subpoenaed Thursday declined to voluntarily provide information to the committee.
In a statement, Thompson said the committee “has learned that several of our colleagues have information relevant to our investigation into the January 6 attack and the events leading up to it.”
“Before we hold our hearings next month, we wanted to provide members with the opportunity to voluntarily discuss these issues with the committee,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately, those receiving subpoenas today have refused and we are compelled to take this action to help ensure the committee finds out the facts about January 6. We urge our colleagues to obey the law, do their patriotic duty, and cooperate with our investigation as hundreds of other witnesses have done.
The attack: before, during, after
The committee said in its letters to McCarthy and Brooks that it was compelling the two Republicans to appear for depositions on May 31. Biggs and Perry’s depositions are scheduled for May 26 and Jordan is due to testify on May 27.
The committee’s long-awaited public hearings are due to begin on June 9.
Until Thursday, the committee had been reluctant to subpoena GOP lawmakers due to a variety of issues, including time constraints — a a protracted fight could last beyond November’s midterm elections – and fears of retaliation if Republicans regain a majority in the House, which many Democrats privately believe will happen.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-California), a member of the committee, said the five lawmakers subpoenaed to appear Thursday have “some of the most relevant information for the committee” as it investigates the Jan. 6 attack.
“These are people who were at the rally, who were on the phone with the president, who the president allegedly told to cancel the election, and one of whom may have asked for forgiveness from those involved,” Schiff said. to reporters at the Capitol. “It’s hard to imagine witnesses with evidence more directly relevant to our committee and information more important to the American people.”
Investigators had tried to identify precedents for subpoenas of members of Congress, according to two people familiar with the investigation. One example they focused on was the House Ethics Committee’s two-year investigation into the personal finances of former Congressman Charles B. Rangel. The New York Democrat, who was ultimately convicted on 11 ethics charges, was subpoenaed by the House Ethics Committee’s investigative subcommittee. after refusing repeated requests for a forensic accountant’s report and other documents.
Republicans subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee did not pledge to abide by the orders. In a brief interview with reporters, McCarthy declined to say whether he would comply with the subpoena while reiterating his criticism of the committee.
“My view of the committee hasn’t changed,” he said. “They are not conducting a legitimate investigation. Looks like they just want to go after their political opponents.
Jordan, Perry, Biggs and Brooks also declined to say whether they would comply and said they had not yet seen the subpoenas Thursday afternoon.
“It’s all for the headlines and the sensationalism,” Perry told reporters.
In an interview on Fox News Channel, Biggs argued without evidence that the committee “doesn’t really have the power to issue subpoenas” and that it doesn’t “want to honor what they’re doing.”
Brooks released a lengthy statement in which he called the panel a “witch hunt committee” and repeated Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
In a January letter to McCarthy, Thompson said the panel was interested in his correspondence with Meadows before the attack, as well as McCarthy’s communications with Trump during and after the riot. The details of those conversations could provide the committee with additional insight into Trump’s state of mind at the time, Thompson wrote.
“We also need to learn how the president’s plans for Jan. 6 came to fruition and all the other ways he tried to alter the election results,” he wrote. “For example, before January 6, you would have explained to Mark Meadows and the former president that objections to the certification of electoral votes on January 6 were ‘doomed to failure’.”
McCarthy responded in January, saying in a statement that the “sole purpose of the committee is to attempt to harm its political opponents.”
Jordan gave conflicting answers about his communications with Trump. He previously said he couldn’t remember how many times he spoke with Trump on Jan. 6, but they spoke at least once. The panel also asked for details of all communications Jordan had with Trump’s legal team, White House staffers and anyone else involved in Jan. 6-related planning.
Perry introduced Trump to Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official whom Perry sought to install in the role of acting attorney general. Clark then played a key role in Trump’s efforts to challenge the election results.
In a letter to Biggs earlier this month, the Jan. 6 committee said the text messages indicated the Arizona Republican was seeking to persuade state officials of the misconception that the 2020 election had been stolen. The panel also said Biggs was part of an effort by “certain House Republicans after Jan. 6” to apologize to Trump for their efforts to undo Joe Biden’s election victory.
Brooks said in a recent interview that Trump had repeatedly asked him “to cancel the 2020 election.” He and Biggs are among a trio of GOP lawmakers who right-wing activist Ali Alexander says helped him plan the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington that preceded the riot. Both lawmakers denied any involvement.
If Republicans retake the House in November, McCarthy is widely expected to be elected president – although some members of the House GOP conference have expressed reservations after the recent leak of audio recordings in which McCarthy blamed Trump for the insurrection and expressed alarm at the days-long actions of House Republicans following the Jan. 6 attack.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the conservative Republican review committee, said he would defer to McCarthy and others on whether they should comply with the subpoenas. He argued — as nearly every House GOP member has argued — that the bipartisan committee is “a witch hunt.”
“It’s a political circus,” Banks said. “It’s a joke. And no one is surprised that they’ve taken another step to completely politicize this.
Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), one of two Republicans on the panel, told reporters the decision to subpoena lawmakers “was not a decision taken lightly.”
“This reflects the importance and seriousness of the investigation and the seriousness of the attack on the Capitol,” Cheney said.
When asked Thursday if he thinks McCarthy and the other four Republicans will comply with the subpoenas, Thompson replied, “I hope they will.”
Throughout the investigation, the names of the five Republicans “have come up in many ways, and we believe the information and the response is important,” Thompson told reporters on Capitol Hill.
He declined to say whether a contempt vote could be in the works if lawmakers refuse to comply.
“No conversation about contempt. We’ll talk about next steps, which could be any number of things,” Thompson said.
Likewise, other committee members did not commit to the next steps the group would take in the likely event that GOP lawmakers failed to comply with the subpoenas.
“I’m not going,” Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) said when asked if the committee was prepared to disregard non-compliant members. “I have to believe that every member of Congress will want to do their legal duty and their patriotic duty to participate in an investigation into an attack on our own institution and an attack on political institutions in the United States.”
It is likely that the committee has already collected ample evidence documenting the full extent of the role that some lawmakers played in relation to the January 6 attack. So far, the committee has conducted nearly 995 depositions and interviews, received 125,000 documents and followed up on 470 information received through its hotline.
Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.), the No. 2 Democrat in the House, ignored suggestions that members of his party could face future subpoenas under a possible Republican majority.
“I have no problem being subpoenaed personally,” said Hoyer, who is not a member of the committee. “You know, I’ll tell the truth. If I have information they need, that’s fine. I do not understand this extraordinary reaction to the pursuit of a legal and proper process.
Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.