Ex-lawmakers request ethics probes into sitting members of Congress linked to Jan. 6
More than 30 former House lawmakers are calling for ethics investigations into sitting members of Congress “who played a role” in the events on the day of and before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, arguing that elected officials involved with the riot “must be held accountable.”
In an open letter first shared with The Hill, the group — which includes 36 former House members from both parties — is calling on sitting lawmakers in the lower chamber to “demand that the Office of Congressional Ethics thoroughly investigate” members linked to the Capitol riot. If necessary, the ex-lawmakers write, they also want the House to “exercise its disciplinary functions.”
“As is now clear, January 6th was only one event among many that together constituted an extraordinary campaign to overturn an election,” the letter reads. “The scale and audacity of the campaign is profoundly troubling.”
“Among the most alarming findings is that various members of Congress participated in it,” the former lawmakers added.
The letter, which will be posted on Medium Saturday, does not name specific lawmakers who should be subject to investigation, but it does reference a number of allegations that have been linked to members through media reporting and the probe conducted by the House select committee investigating Jan. 6.
“We now know, for example, that sitting lawmakers corresponded and met with White House officials and allies to plot various prongs of the campaign, including to advocate that the president declare martial law; that states submit false certificates of electoral votes to Congress; that the vice president, in contravention of his constitutional duties, interfere with the counting of electoral votes; and that federal law enforcement authorities be enlisted to interfere with the election; among other startling facts. We also now know that various sitting lawmakers sought presidential pardons,” the letter reads.
At its hearing in June, the Jan. 6 select committee named six House Republican lawmakers who requested pardons or contacted officials regarding pardons after voting to overturn election results in states the day of the riot: Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.).
Additionally, this week, Talking Points Memo published text messages former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows exchanged with members of Congress. In one exchange on Jan. 17, 2021, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) asked Meadows to urge then-President Trump to impose martial law — spelling it “Marshall Law” — calling such a move “Our LAST HOPE” for “saving our Republic.”
Separately on Jan. 17, Greene texted Meadows with a similar message stating that the president should call for martial law.
“In our private chat with only Members, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall law. I don’t know on those things. I just wanted you to tell him,” Greene texted Meadows, according to CNN.
The network also reported that, on Nov. 6, 2021, Biggs texted Meadows about a “proposal” to encourage Republican state legislators to send alternate slates of electors to Congress.
And, in the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoena to Brooks sent in May, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the panel, said the group has evidence that Brooks’s staff met with staffers from then-Vice President Mike Pence’s office to relay their claim that Pence did “have authority to unilaterally refuse to count certified electoral votes.”
The former lawmakers said an Office of Congressional Ethics investigation is necessary to hold sitting lawmakers linked to the riot accountable.
The Office of Congressional Ethics is an independent watchdog that probes allegations of misconduct against members and other House staffers. When appropriate, the group refers matters to the House Ethics Committee.
“These lawmakers stopped short of storming the Capitol themselves. But they shared a common goal with those who did: to prevent the lawful transfer of power for the first time in the Republic’s history,” the former lawmakers wrote. “As with those who stormed the Capitol, they must be held accountable.”
“We expect that Congress will and should be home to intense and passionate disagreement. But we did not expect that lawmakers who found their party on the losing side of a presidential election would take matters into their own hands,” they added. “Our ability to ensure that such efforts are not repeated rests upon accountability for unlawful and unethical behavior. No one—including members of Congress—is above the law.”
The letter comes days before the Jan. 6 select committee is set to hold its final public presentation and release its concluding report, the culmination of more than a year of investigation into the Capitol riot.
The committee is expected to vote on criminal referrals to the Justice Department on Monday, including at least three targeting Trump, according to several reports.
But the panel could also vote on referrals to the House Ethics Committee after five GOP lawmakers ignored subpoenas issued by the committee. That group comprises House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Perry, Biggs and Brooks.
Earlier this month Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the select committee, indicated that the faction of five could be referred to the House Ethics Committee.
The signatories of the letter are former Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.), Steve Bartlett (R-Texas), Robert E. Bauman (R-Md.), Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Lois Capps (D-Calif.), Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), M. Robert Carr (D-Mich.), Rod Chandler (R-Wash.), Tom Coleman (R-Mo.), Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.), David F. Emery (R-Maine), Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.), Paul Hodes (D-N.H.), Elizabeth Holtzman (D-N.Y.), Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio), Mike Kopetski (D-Ore.), Larry LaRocco (D-Idaho), John LeBoutillier (R-N.Y.), Mel Levine (D-Calif.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Matthew F. McHugh (D-N.Y.), Glenn Nye (D-Va.), Thomas Perriello (D-Va.), Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), Scott Rigell (R-Va.), Claudine Schneider (R-R.I.), Philip Sharp (D-Ind.), Peter Smith (R-Vt.), Alan Steelman (R-Texas), Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), Peter G. Torkildsen (R-Mass.), David Trott (R-Mich.), James T. Walsh (R-N.Y.) and Joe Walsh (R-Ill.).