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GOP Leader McCarthy Says He Won’t Cooperate With Jan 6 Panel

January 13, 2022 by Reece Nations
GOP Leader McCarthy Says He Won’t Cooperate With Jan 6 Panel
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., joined at right by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, holds a news conference before the start of a hearing by a select committee appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the Jan. 6 insurrection, at the Capitol in Washington, on July 27, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is refusing a request by the House panel investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection to submit to an interview and turn over records pertaining to the deadly riot.

The House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol formally requested McCarthy, R-Calif., to voluntarily provide information related to the probe on Wednesday.

McCarthy issued a statement refusing to cooperate with the House committee. He said the investigation was not legitimate and accused the panel of “abuse of power.”

He then appeared on the Fox News Channel on Thursday and asserted some committee members want “to deny me ever the chance to be speaker,” if Republicans retake the House in the 2022 midterm elections.

The request to McCarthy came in a letter written by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who chairs the committee. McCarthy is the latest high-profile Republican leader to receive an interview request from the committee, which has also tapped House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who serves as a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Both Perry and Jordan have thus far refused to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee’s requests for information.

McCarthy has publicly criticized the committee since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., rejected his request to appoint Jordan and Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., to the bipartisan committee over their objection to President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

“We write to request your voluntary cooperation with our investigation on a range of critical topics, including your conversations with President Trump before, during and after the violent Jan. 6 attack,” the letter to McCarthy read. “You have acknowledged speaking directly with the former president while the violence was underway on Jan. 6.”

The letter noted that McCarthy himself disavowed former President Donald Trump for his conduct on Jan. 6 in a speech from the House floor days later. McCarthy has acknowledged speaking directly with Trump while throngs of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a vain attempt to prevent the certification of the Electoral College ballots.

“What we saw last week was not the American way. Neither is the continued rhetoric that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president,” McCarthy said in remarks on the House floor on Jan. 13, 2021. “Let’s be clear, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the president of the United States in one week because he won the election.”

In the letter, Thompson posed several direct questions to McCarthy about: 

  • His communications with the White House regarding FBI briefings he received on potential violence immediately following the attack. 
  • His communications with the White House in the week that followed the attack. 
  • His communications with Trump’s legal team pertaining to the attack. 

The panel also is seeking insight from McCarthy on his direct communication with Trump on the day of the Capitol attack and, in particular, details of the hourlong phone conversation the two had in which McCarthy pleaded with Trump to accept his electoral defeat and quell the violence as it unfolded.

Thompson requested McCarthy’s presence before the committee on either Feb. 3 or Feb. 4, while also proposing the week of Feb. 7 as a potential substitute for those dates. During a Jan. 2 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Thompson said the committee is examining whether it can lawfully issue subpoenas to sitting members of Congress.

“The select committee has tremendous respect for the prerogatives of Congress and the privacy of its members,” Thompson’s letter to McCarthy read. “At the same time, we have a solemn responsibility to investigate fully the facts and circumstances of these events. Our investigation will inform our specific legislative recommendations, and ensure that we can take action to prevent another Jan. 6 from ever happening again.” 

Reece can be reached at reece@thewellnews.com

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