McCarthy, GOP lawmakers escalate standoff in Jan. 6 panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has made it clear he will Ignoring subpoena for House committee investigating Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attackan escalating standoff with the panel over testimony from him and other Republican lawmakers.

“House GOP leaders agree to engage in this political stunt that will change the House forever,” the California lawmaker wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Thursday with Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan.

The House panel argued that testimony from Republican lawmakers was critical to their investigation because they were in contact with then-President Donald Trump and his allies in the weeks and days leading up to the Capitol riots. Some attended the meeting and urged the White House to try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

McCarthy admitted he spoke with Trump on January 6, when Trump supporters beat up police outside the Capitol and forced their way into the building. But he didn’t share many details. The committee asked for information on his conversations with Trump “before, during and after” the unrest.

His revolt brought new challenges to the committee after lawmakers decided to take the extraordinary and politically risky step of subpoenaing their own colleagues. The committee must now decide whether to enforce the subpoena, even as it hopes to conclude the investigation and prepare for a series of public hearings in early June. It could refer lawmakers to the House Ethics Committee or take steps to hold them in contempt.

Subpoenas were issued in mid-May to McCarthy of California, Jordan and Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama. The team has interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses and collected more than 100,000 documents to investigate the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries.

“I have no information to advance any legitimate legislative purpose,” Jordan said in a letter detailing his reasons for not cooperating. Others said they would also not cooperate after the subpoena was issued. Requests for comment from Biggs, Brooks and Perry were not immediately returned.

The group had previously asked five lawmakers and a handful of other Republican members to voluntarily cooperate, but all declined to speak to the group, which has debated for months whether to issue a subpoena.

This week and next, McCarthy and others were called to testify before investigators. McCarthy, who aspires to become House speaker next year if Republicans hold a majority, said the committee’s decision would have a lasting impact.

“Every representative of the minority will be subject to mandatory trial by the majority, sworn in without any fair basis, and at the expense of the taxpayer,” he wrote in the column.

In another move, McCarthy and 2nd House Republican, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, filed a court brief in support of Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon, who Facing criminal contempt of court charges for ignoring a committee subpoena. In the briefing, lawyers for the two wrote that the committee does not have the authority to issue a subpoena, an argument that has been rejected in other court proceedings.

The lawyers also wrote that McCarthy and Scalise filed the brief “out of concerns about potential damage to the House system” rules and order.

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Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

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