Jan 6 Panel summons 5 Republican representatives

Jan 6 Panel summons 5 Republican representatives

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol on Thursday issued subpoenas for five Republican members of Congress, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader who had refused to volunteer with the panel hold true.

The committee chairs had refused to issue subpoenas to their co-legislators. This is an extraordinarily rare step taken by most congressional bodies, despite the fact that the House Ethics Committee, which is responsible for investigating allegations of member misconduct, is known to do so.

The panel said it is seeking documents and testimony from Mr. McCarthy, of California, who had a heated phone call with President Donald J. Trump during the Capitol violence; Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry, who coordinated a plan to try to replace the acting attorney general after defying Mr. Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud; Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who was heavily involved in campaigning against the election results; Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, former chairman of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus; and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who said Mr Trump had been seeking illegal reinstatement for more than a year.

All five have turned down requests for voluntary interviews about the role they played in leading up to the attack from supporters of the former president who believed his lie about widespread voter fraud.

Mr McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday that he had yet to see the subpoena.

“My opinion on the committee hasn’t changed,” he said. “You are not conducting a legitimate investigation. It seems they just want to go after their political opponents.”

Mr. Perry called the investigation “a charade” and a “political witch hunt” by Democrats to “fabricate headlines and distract Americans from their abysmal record of rocking America.”

The subpoenas come as the committee conducts a series of public hearings over the next month to announce its findings. The eight hearings are scheduled to take place over several weeks beginning June 9, some during prime time, to attract large television audiences.

“The special 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,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and committee chair, in a statement. “Before we hold our hearings next month, we would like to give members the opportunity to raise these matters with the committee on a voluntary basis. Unfortunately, those receiving subpoenas today have refused, and we are compelled to take this step to ensure the committee uncovers facts about January 6.”

For weeks, members and investigators of the House Special Panel have privately agonized over how aggressively they should prosecute sitting members of Congress, balancing their desire for information about lawmakers’ direct interactions with Mr. Trump against the potential legal difficulties and political ramifications.

Behind closed doors, the committee and staff researched the law, parliamentary rules and previous precedents before deciding to proceed, people familiar with the inquiry said.

In letters to lawmakers sent Thursday, Mr Thompson wrote that their refusal to cooperate left the panel “no choice” but to issue subpoenas.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat and a member of the committee, said the panel has conducted more than 1,000 interviews but needs to hear from members of Congress who are so closely involved in the former president’s plans.

“The precedent we want to set with our work is that people should not try to overthrow the electoral and political institutions of the United States,” he said.

Mr. McCarthy’s subpoena is particularly notable because he is slated to become Speaker if Republicans win control of the House of Representatives this November. Should he refuse to comply, it could set in motion a process that could result in a Democratic-controlled House viewing him with contempt for Congress in the face of the upcoming midterm elections.

Congressional investigators have seldom faced a situation with so much at stake for their institution.

Mr. McCarthy has long feared being subpoenaed into the investigation. For the past few months, he has been speaking to William A. Burck, a longtime Washington attorney, about how to counter a subpoena.

The Committee would like to question Mr. McCarthy about conversations he had after the attack about the President’s culpability in the attack and what should be done to address it. The committee has also suggested that Mr. Trump may have influenced Mr. McCarthy’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation.

Mr McCarthy issued a fierce statement in January condemning the committee as illegitimate and saying it would refuse to cooperate with its investigation. He has argued that the panel violated Republican privacy by subpoenaing bank and phone records. Mr McCarthy also denounced Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California for turning down two of his five choices for a seat on the panel – one of which was Mr Jordan.

The committee wrote to Mr. Jordan in December that his investigators wanted to question him about his communications related to the run-up to the Capitol riots. These include Mr. Jordan’s messages to Mr. Trump and his legal team, as well as others involved in planning Jan. 6 rallies, and objections by Congress to confirming Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

In the weeks following the 2020 election, Mr. Perry, a congressman who has been close to Mr. Jordan since 2013, compiled a dossier of allegations of voter fraud and coordinated a plan to try to replace the incumbent attorney general, who opposed Mr. Jordan’s Trumps Try to overturn the election with a more docile official. Mr Perry also backed the idea of ​​encouraging Mr Trump’s supporters to march on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

In a letter to Mr. Biggs, the committee chairmen wrote that they wanted to question him about evidence they obtained regarding the efforts of certain House Republicans after Jan. 6 related to Mr. Trump’s efforts to attribute the 2020 election rush to seek a presidential pardon.

And the panel said it wanted to question Mr Brooks about statements he made in March and alleged Mr Trump had repeatedly urged him in the months since the election to illegally “overturn” the results, remove President Biden and hold a special election to force.

The constitution’s so-called speech or debate clause, designed to protect the independence of the legislature, states that senators and lawmakers may not be questioned “in any other place” about a speech or debate in either house. It has been construed broadly to cover all legislative action, not just words. At first glance, however, this clause is limited to questioning them in “other” places such as courtrooms.

There is also precedent for the House to subpoena its own Members in a narrow context. The House Ethics Committee has the authority under the Chamber’s rules to subpoena members to testify or produce documents, and members are required to comply.

The committee has also requested an interview with Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson, Mr Trump’s former White House doctor, about why he was mentioned in encrypted messages from the militia group Oath Keepers, some members of which have criminally charged members in connection with the attack became .

Mr. Jackson also refused to cooperate voluntarily, but he was not among those issued with a subpoena Thursday.

Ms Pelosi declined to comment except to say she respects the committee’s work. Maryland Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the second house Democrat, said he’s not concerned that Republicans would try to retaliate by issuing their own subpoenas in other investigations if they win the House.

“We should all be subject to being asked to speak the truth before a committee that is gathering information that is important to our country and our democracy,” Mr Hoyer said.

Michael S Schmidt contributed reporting.

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