U.S. House investigators said Thursday they have issued subpoenas to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and four other Republican lawmakers as part of their probe into the violent Jan. 6 insurrection, an extraordinary step that has little precedent and is certain to further inflame partisan tensions over the 2021 attack.
The Jan. 6 panel’s subpoenas for McCarthy, and Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama come as the investigation is winding down and as the panel prepares for a series of public hearings this summer.
After the announcement, McCarthy, who aspires to be House speaker if Republicans take the majority in midterm elections, told reporters that “I have not seen a subpoena,” and that his view on the committee has not changed since they asked for his voluntary co-operation earlier this year.
“They’re not conducting a legitimate investigation,” McCarthy said. “Seems as though they just want to go after their political opponents.”
The panel had previously asked for voluntary co-operation from the five men, along with a handful of other Republican lawmakers, but all of them refused to speak with the panel, which debated for months whether to issue the subpoenas.
“Before we hold our hearings next month, we wished to provide members the opportunity to discuss these matters with the committee voluntarily,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chairman of the panel. “Regrettably, the individuals receiving subpoenas today have refused and we’re forced to take this step to help ensure the committee uncovers facts concerning January 6th.”
Congressional subpoenas for sitting members of Congress, especially for a party leader, have little precedent in recent decades, and it is unclear what the consequences would be if any or all of the five men decline to comply. The House has voted to hold two other noncompliant witnesses, former Trump aides Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows, in contempt, referring their cases to the U.S. Justice Department.
The committee has been investigating McCarthy’s conversations with then-U.S. president Donald Trump the day of the attack and meetings that the four other lawmakers had with the White House as Trump and his aides conspired to overturn his defeat. (CBC)