McCarthy has acknowledged he spoke with Trump on Jan. 6 as Trump’s supporters were beating police outside the Capitol and forcing their way into the constructing. But he has not shared many details. The committee requested details about his conversations with Trump “before, during and after” the riot.
His apparent defiance presents a recent challenge for the committee after lawmakers decided to take the extraordinary and politically dangerous step of subpoenaing their very own colleagues.
“For House Republican leaders to comply with take part in this political stunt would change the House perpetually,” the California lawmaker wrote Thursday in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal with GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.
The committee now must determine whether to implement the subpoenas at the same time as it looks to wrap up the investigation and prepare for a series of public hearings in early June. It could refer the lawmakers to the House ethics committee or take steps to carry them in contempt.
The subpoenas were issued to McCarthy, Jordan, and Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama in mid-May. The panel has already interviewed greater than 1,000 witnesses and picked up greater than 100,000 documents because it investigates the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries.
“I haven’t any relevant information that might advance any 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 wouldn’t cooperate.
Perry’s lawyer sent the committee a letter earlier this week saying he could “not in good conscience comply” with the subpoena because he doesn’t consider it’s valid under House rules.
Requests for comment from Biggs and Brooks weren’t immediately returned.
The panel had previously asked for voluntary cooperation from the five lawmakers, together with a handful of other GOP members, but all refused to talk with the panel, which debated for months whether to issue the subpoenas.
McCarthy and the others were summoned to testify in front of investigators this week and next week. McCarthy, who aspires to be House speaker if Republicans take over the bulk next 12 months, indicated that the committee’s decision can have an enduring impact.
“Every representative within the minority can be subject to compelled interrogations by the bulk, under oath, with none foundation of fairness, and on the expense of taxpayers,” he wrote within the op-ed.
In a separate move, McCarthy and the No. 2 House Republican, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, filed a court temporary in support of Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon, who’s facing criminal contempt charges for defying a subpoena from the committee. Within the temporary, lawyers for the 2 write that the committee doesn’t have the authority to issue subpoenas, an argument that has been dismissed in other court proceedings.
The lawyers also wrote that McCarthy and Scalise filed the temporary “out of concern for the potential damage to House institutional” rules and order.