House GOP leader and other Republican members have refused to give evidence to panel, raising possibility of legal clash
The select committee investigating the 6 January 2021 attack on the US Capitol has promised to take action against several Republican congressmen who are refusing to comply with its subpoenas.
The panel, whose public hearings are set to begin in less than two weeks’ time, was responding to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is one of the members it has summoned to testify.
In his piece, Mr McCarthy claimed that the committee was overstepping its authority by demanding his testimony, claiming that “For House Republican leaders to agree to participate in this political stunt would change the House forever.”
In response, the committee put out a remarkably sharp statement charging that “Leader McCarthy and other Members who have been served subpoenas are hiding behind debunked arguments and baseless requests for special treatment.
“Claims challenging the composition of the Select Committee and the legitimacy of its subpoenas have repeatedly failed in the courts,” wrote spokesperson Tim Mulvey. “The refusal of these Members to cooperate is a continued assault on the rule of law and sets a dangerous new precedent that could hamper the House’s ability to conduct oversight in the future.
“Chairman Bennie Thompson will formally respond to these Members in the days ahead.”
Mr Jordan, who has confirmed he was in direct contact with Donald Trump on the day of the attack, was one of the five Republicans Mr McCarthy nominated to the select committee when it was first created. Nancy Pelosi refused to seat him and fellow nominee Jim Banks on the panel, remarking that her own members had concerns about “the impact their appointments may have on the integrity of the investigation”.
Liz Cheney, one of the panel’s two Republican members and a staunch Trump critic, confirmed afterwards that Mr Jordan might be considered a “material witness” to the investigation – a designation the panel confirmed at the start of this year.
Mr Brooks, meanwhile, was not only in close contact with the Trump team after the 2020 election but even spoke at the 6 January rally outside the White House that precipitated the Capitol attack. He is currently running for Alabama’s open Senate seat.
Mr Trump initially endorsed him in the race but then withdrew his backing, citing Mr Brooks’s telling an audience of supporters that Republicans should “move on” from fixating on the 2020 election. After he dumped Mr Brooks, the congressman shared an unflattering description of the former commander-in-chief’s repeated demands that he be somehow reinstated as president despite Mr Biden’s victory.
Alongside its subpoenas, the select committee has also requested the assistance of Georgia representative Barry Loudermilk. In a letter sent to him earlier this month, Ms Cheney and chair Bennie Thompson wrote that they have information that he led a tour group through the Capitol complex on 5 January 2021 without authorisation.
Mr Loudermilk has previously claimed that “no Republican Member of Congress led any kind of ‘reconnaissance’ tours through the Capitol on any date, including January 5, 2021”. However, Mr Thompson and Ms Cheney insisted that the panel’s “review of evidence directly contradicts that denial”.
The first of the six televised hearings the panel has scheduled for the summer will take place on 9 June.