WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol sent letters on Monday looking for interviews with three Republican members of Congress, and the panel said it had gathered evidence that some House Republicans sought presidential pardons within the aftermath of the violence that engulfed the Capitol.
The committee is requesting interviews with Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, the previous leader of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus; Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, who has said former President Donald J. Trump has continued to hunt reinstatement to office; and Representative Ronny Jackson of Texas, Mr. Trump’s former White House doctor.
In a letter to Mr. Biggs, the committee’s leaders wrote that they desired to query him about evidence they’d obtained about efforts by certain House Republicans to hunt a presidential pardon after Jan. 6 in reference to Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
“Your name was identified as a possible participant in that effort,” Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, the leaders of the committee, wrote to Mr. Biggs. “We would love to grasp all the small print of the request for a pardon, more specific explanation why a pardon was sought, and the scope of the proposed pardon.”
The committee also said it desired to interview Mr. Biggs a few Dec. 21, 2020, meeting he attended on the White House with several other members of the Freedom Caucus. There, the discussion included a plan wherein former Vice President Mike Pence would unilaterally refuse to count certain states’ certified electoral votes on Jan. 6.
Investigators said additionally they had evidence about Mr. Biggs’s efforts to influence state legislators to affix Mr. Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election.
The panel also desires to query Mr. Biggs about Ali Alexander, a outstanding organizer of so-called Stop the Steal rallies with ties to far-right members of Congress who sought to invalidate the 2020 election results. Mr. Alexander has said that he, together with Mr. Biggs, Mr. Brooks and Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, set the events of Jan. 6 in motion.
“We 4 schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Mr. Alexander said in a since-deleted video posted online. He added that even in the event that they couldn’t lobby the lawmakers, “we could change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.”
The committee described Mr. Alexander as “an early and aggressive proponent of the Stop the Steal movement who called for violence before Jan. 6.”
“We would love to grasp precisely what you knew before the violence on Jan. 6 in regards to the purposes, planning and expectations for the march on the Capitol,” Mr. Thompson and Ms. Cheney wrote to Mr. Biggs.
Mr. Brooks, who wore body armor onstage that day as he told the gang to “start taking down names and kicking ass,” and Mr. Biggs, who provided a video message for Mr. Alexander to play at a Dec. 19 rally, have denied coordinating event planning with Mr. Alexander.
The panel desires to query Mr. Brooks about statements he made in March claiming that Mr. Trump had asked him repeatedly within the months because the election to illegally “rescind” the outcomes, remove President Biden and force a special election.
Mr. Brooks said Mr. Trump had made the request of him on multiple occasions since Sept. 1, 2021. He said the previous president didn’t specify exactly how Congress could reinstall him, and that Mr. Brooks repeatedly told him it was not possible.
“I told President Trump that ‘rescinding’ the 2020 election was not a legal option. Period,” Mr. Brooks said.
Investigators said they’d questions for Mr. Jackson, the previous White House doctor who’s now a member of Congress, about why he was mentioned in encrypted messages from the Oath Keepers, a militia group, a few of whose members have been charged criminally in reference to the attack. Within the messages, the militia members appear to have Mr. Jackson’s cellphone and say he’s “on the move” and “needs protection” because the violence was underway.
Members of the Oath Keepers, including its leader, Stewart Rhodes, exchanged encrypted messages asking members of the organization to offer Mr. Jackson personally with security assistance, suggesting that he has “critical data to guard,” in line with federal prosecutors.
“Why would these individuals have an interest in your specific location? Why would they consider you ‘have critical data to guard’?” Mr. Thompson and Ms. Cheney wrote to Mr. Jackson. “Why would they direct their members to guard your personal safety? With whom did you speak by cellphone that day?”
On Jan. 6, Mr. Jackson posted photographs of himself at Mr. Trump’s rally on the Ellipse that preceded the violence, and posted to Twitter: “American Patriots have your BACK Mr. President! We are going to FIGHT for YOU and we are going to fight OUR country!!”
Capitol Riot’s Aftermath: Key Developments
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Weighing changes to the Rebel Act. Some lawmakers on the Jan. 6 House committee have begun discussions about rewriting the Rebel Act in response to the events that led to the Capitol riot. The law currently gives presidents the authority to deploy the military to reply to a rise up, and a few fear it may very well be abused by a president attempting to stoke one.
Mr. Thompson and Ms. Cheney wrote to Mr. Jackson: “We would love to debate how and while you returned from the Ellipse to the Capitol, and the contacts you had with participants within the rally or the next march from the Ellipse to the Capitol.”
Mr. Biggs and Mr. Brooks didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment in regards to the letters.
In a press release, Mr. Jackson called the committee “illegitimate” and said he wouldn’t conform to an interview. He denied being involved with the members of the Oath Keepers.
“I have no idea, nor did I even have contact with, those that exchanged text messages about me on Jan. 6,” Mr. Jackson said. “Actually, I used to be proud to assist defend the House floor from those that posed a threat to my colleagues. The Committee’s witch hunt against me is nothing greater than a coordinated try and do the media’s work on taxpayers’ dime.”
The committee has to this point chosen to not issue subpoenas for the testimony of members of Congress, citing the panel’s “tremendous respect for the prerogatives of Congress and the privacy of its members.”
“At the identical time, now we have a solemn responsibility to research fully the facts and circumstances of those events,” Mr. Thompson and Ms. Cheney wrote.
The panel has already sought interviews with Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader; Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio; and Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.
Each has refused to fulfill with the committee’s investigators.
The panel has interviewed greater than 935 witnesses so far.
The letters to members of Congress come after the committee picked up a court victory late Sunday against the Republican National Committee, which had attempted to dam a subpoena to a vendor, Salesforce.com.
The panel is investigating how Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party raised tons of of tens of millions of dollars from donors while making the false claim that the election had been stolen, and a federal judge ruled investigators may obtain the Republican National Committee’s marketing email data.
The Jan. 6 committee is planning a series of public hearings in June to disclose its findings. Mr. Thompson has said eight hearings will happen over several weeks starting June 9, some in prime time in an effort to draw a big television audience.
Alan Feuer contributed reporting.