Watchdog group seeks ethics probe over McCarthy’s Jan. 6 comments
A public interest group is calling for an ethics investigation into House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) after he told communications companies that the GOP “will not forget” if they turn phone and email records over to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
The complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) argues that both McCarthy and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) violated House rules by threatening to retaliate against companies that comply with legal requests.
The House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol sent letters to 35 tech and communications firms Monday asking for a trove of documents, including for personal communications of those involved with the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 — a group likely to include lawmakers.
“If these companies comply with the Democrat order to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States,” McCarthy wrote.
“If companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law,” he said.
McCarthy did not cite which law prohibits telecommunications companies from complying with the committee’s request.
While communications companies often seek to alert those whose records will be turned over, it’s not clear if complying with the request would violate the law given Congress’s investigative authority.
“House rules require members to uphold the laws of the United States and to conduct themselves at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House. The threats of Reps. McCarthy and Greene do neither. Threatening retaliation for complying with legally valid document demands and preservation requests appears to violate 18 U.S.C. § 1505, which prohibits obstructing congressional investigations, and does not reflect creditably on the House,” CREW President Noah Bookbinder wrote in a complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Like McCarthy, Greene told Fox News this week that companies would face ramifications for compliance with the requests.
“If these telecommunications companies, if they go along with this, they will be shut down. And that’s a promise,” she told Fox’s Tucker Carlson on Tuesday.
Greene’s records have reportedly been requested by the committee, according to CNN. The news outlet also found the committee would seek the phone records of GOP Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Jody Hice (Ga.), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio), whom Republicans once tapped to serve on the committee.
Following McCarthy’s comment, the committee said it would not be deterred in its work.
“The Select Committee is investigating the violent attack on the Capitol and attempt to overturn the results of last year’s election,” a committee spokesperson said Tuesday.
“We’ve asked companies not to destroy records that may help answer questions for the American people. The committee’s efforts won’t be deterred by those who want to whitewash or cover up the events of January 6th, or obstruct our investigation.”
The Office of Congressional Ethics declined to comment while representatives for McCarthy and Greene did not immediately respond to The Hill.