WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is making it clear he will likely defy a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.escalating a standoff with the panel over his testimony and that of other GOP lawmakers.
In an 11-page letter to the panel on Friday, a lawyer for McCarthy argued that the select committee lacked the authority to issue subpoenas to lawmakers under House rules and demanded answers to a series of questions and documents if his client were to comply. .
Attorney Elliot Berke requested a list of “topics the select committee would like to discuss with the leader, and the constitutional and legal justifications for the request.”
“I expressly reserve Chief McCarthy’s right to assert any other privileges or objections applicable to the select committee’s subpoena,” Berke wrote.
Committee spokesman Tim Mulvey responded Friday evening: “Chief McCarthy and other members who have received subpoenas are hiding behind debunked arguments and baseless demands for special treatment.”
He added: “The refusal of these MPs to cooperate is a continuing attack on the rule of law and sets a dangerous new precedent that could hamper the House’s ability to exercise oversight in the future.” Mulvey said committee chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., “will formally respond to these members in the coming days.”
The House panel believes the Republican lawmakers’ testimony is crucial to their investigation, as each of the men had contact with then-President Donald Trump and his allies in the weeks and days leading up to the incident. Capitol insurrection. Some have attended meetings and urged the White House to try to overturn the 2020 presidential results.
McCarthy admitted speaking with Trump on Jan. 6 as Trump supporters beat up police outside the Capitol and forced their way into the building. But he didn’t share many details. The committee requested information about his conversations with Trump “before, during and after” the riot.
His apparent defiance presents a new challenge for the committee after lawmakers decide to take the extraordinary and politically risky step of subpoenaing their own colleagues.
“For House Republican leaders to agree to participate in this political stunt would change the House forever,” the California lawmaker wrote Thursday in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. with GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.
The committee must now decide whether to enforce the subpoenas even as it seeks to wrap up the investigation and prepare for a series of public hearings in early June. He could refer lawmakers to the House Ethics Committee or take action to despise them.
Subpoenas were issued to McCarthy, Jordan and Representatives Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama in mid-May. The panel has already interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses and collected more than 100,000 documents as it investigates the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries.
“I have no relevant information that would advance a legitimate legislative purpose,” Jordan said in a letter detailing his reasons for not cooperating. The others indicated after the subpoenas were issued that they too would not cooperate.
Perry’s attorney sent the committee a letter earlier this week saying he could “not in good conscience comply” with the subpoena because he does not believe it is valid under the rules of bedroom.
Biggs and Brooks’ requests for comment were not immediately returned.
The panel had previously sought the voluntary cooperation of the five lawmakers, along with a handful of other GOP members, but all refused to speak with the panel, which debated for months whether to issue the subpoenas. .
McCarthy and the others have been called to testify before investigators this week and next week. McCarthy, who aspires to be Speaker of the House if Republicans win a majority next year, said the committee’s decision will have a lasting impact.
“Each representative of the minority would be subjected to examinations compelled by the majority, under oath, without any basis of fairness, and at the expense of the taxpayers,” he wrote in the editorial.
In a separate move, McCarthy and House Republican No. 2 Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise filed a brief supporting Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon, who faces contempt charges. criminal for defying a committee subpoena. In the brief, attorneys for both write that the committee lacks the power to issue subpoenas, an argument that has been rejected in other court proceedings.
The lawyers also wrote that McCarthy and Scalise filed the case “out of concern for potential damage to the institutional rules and order of the House.”