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McCarthy, GOP lawmakers escalate standoff with Jan. 6 panel

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during his news conference on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.

Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is making clear that he’ll defy a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, escalating a standoff with the panel over his and other GOP lawmakers’ testimony.

“For House Republican leaders to conform to take part in this political stunt would change the House endlessly,” the California lawmaker wrote Thursday in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal with GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

The House panel believes testimony from the Republican lawmakers are crucial to their investigation as each of the lads was in touch with then-President Donald Trump and his allies within the weeks and days leading as much as the Capitol rebellion. Some participated in meetings and urged the White House to try to overturn the 2020 presidential results.

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 defiance presents a latest challenge for the committee after lawmakers decided to take the extraordinary and politically dangerous step of subpoenaing their very own colleagues. 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, R-Calif., 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 don’t have 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. A request for comment from Biggs, Brooks and Perry was not 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 may have a long-lasting impact.

“Every representative within the minority could 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 transient in support of Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon, who’s facing criminal contempt charges for defying a subpoena from the committee. Within the transient, 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 transient “out of concern for the potential damage to House institutional,” rules and order.

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