GOP leader McCarthy says he won’t cooperate with 1/6 House panel
WASHINGTON (AP) — 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 panel is seeking first-hand details from members of Congress on then-President Donald Trump’s actions on the day hundreds of his supporters brutally beat police, stormed the building and interrupted the certification of the 2020 presidential election.
McCarthy, R-Calif., issued a statement Wednesday refusing to cooperate with the House committee. He said the investigation was not legitimate and accused the panel of “abuse of power.”
He told Fox News Channel on Thursday that he had nothing to add beyond his media interviews after the riot. He claimed some committee members want “to deny me ever the chance to be speaker,” if Republicans retake the House in the 2022 midterm elections.
Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democratic chairman of the panel, requested that McCarthy provide information to the nine-member panel about his conversations with Trump “before, during and after” the riot. The request also seeks information about McCarthy’s communications with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the days before the attack.
In his letter, Thompson said the panel “must learn about how the President’s plans for January 6th came together, and all the other ways he attempted to alter the results of the election. For example, in advance of January 6th, you reportedly explained to Mark Meadows and the former President that objections to the certification of the electoral votes on January 6th ‘was doomed to fail.'”
It remains unclear whether the panel will be able to gain testimony from McCarthy or any other congressional allies of Trump. While the committee has considered subpoenaing fellow lawmakers, that would be an extraordinary move and could run up against legal and political challenges.
The panel is seeking a window into Trump’s state of mind from an ally who has acknowledged repeated interactions with the then-president. The committee also wants to question McCarthy about communications with Trump and White House staff in the week after the violence, including a conversation with Trump that was reportedly heated.
The committee acknowledged the sensitive and unusual nature of its request as it proposed a meeting with McCarthy on either Feb. 3 or 4. “The Select Committee has tremendous respect for the prerogatives of Congress and the privacy of its Members,” Thompson wrote. “At the same time, we have a solemn responsibility to investigate fully the facts and circumstances of these events.”
Democrats have been seeking more information about McCarthy’s communications with Trump since the former president’s second impeachment trial last year. At one point in the trial, Democrats said they would try and call Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., as a witness because she had described a potentially pivotal call between the two men after hearing an account from McCarthy.
Herrera Beutler’s statement said McCarthy told her he had asked Trump to publicly “call off the riot” and had said the violent mob was made up of Trump supporters, not far-left antifa members, as Trump initially claimed.
She said in the statement, “That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said, ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.'”
In the end, Democrats read a statement from Herrera Beutler into the record. Trump, who had just left office, was acquitted by the Senate.
McCarthy had initially criticized Trump’s actions after the 2020 election, saying he “bears responsibility” for the deadly Jan. 6 attack, which remains the most serious domestic assault on the building in its history.
“The saddest day I have ever had” in Congress, McCarthy said the night of the attack, even as he went on to join 138 other House Republicans in voting to reject election results.
The latest request from the panel also puts McCarthy face-to-face with its vice-chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, whom he dumped from the No. 3 House leadership position last summer as her very public criticism of Trump’s lies about his 2020 election loss reverberated through the Republican Party.