National Security

Jan. 6 panel asks McCarthy to cooperate

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol took the remarkable step Wednesday of asking for voluntary cooperation from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), the highest-ranking Republican to face such a request in the probe.

In a six-page letter to McCarthy, the committee laid out a host of questions for the Republican leader, who initially condemned the attack and former President Trump’s role in it but who has since become a chief critic of the panel and its work.

“You have acknowledged speaking directly with the former President while the violence was underway on Jan. 6. … Further, you shared an account of your communications with President Trump with a local news outlet in your district, which reported that you had a ‘very heated conversation’ with the President as the riot was taking place, and urged the President to ‘get help’ to the Capitol,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the select committee, wrote in the letter to McCarthy.

“As is readily apparent, all of this information bears directly on President Trump’s state of mind during the January 6th attack as the violence was underway.”

The committee asks to meet with McCarthy as soon as Feb. 3, requesting he divulge information about his communications with Trump “before, during and after the violent Jan. 6 attack.”

McCarthy responded to the committee’s request in a statement Wednesday evening, saying that he would not cooperate and calling the panel “illegitimate.”

“As a representative and the leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded to not participate with this select committee’s abuse of power that stains this institution today and will harm it going forward,” he said in a statement. 

He added the committee was seeking to interview him about “private conversations not remotely related to the violence that unfolded at the Capitol.”

The committee’s letter dissects McCarthy’s reactions to the riot, starting with his speech on the House floor in which he said Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack.

It then uses multiple sources to relay McCarthy’s intense exchange with the White House during the attack and how he encouraged Trump to call off his supporters.

But the committee argues McCarthy’s tone changed following a meeting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago organized after the former president made harsh statements about the minority leader.

“Your public statements regarding January 6th have changed markedly since you met with Trump. At that meeting, or at any other time, did President Trump or his representatives discuss or suggest what you should say publicly, during the impeachment trial (if called as a witness), or in any later investigation about your conversations with him on January 6th?” the committee asks.

The committee lays out a number of other questions for McCarthy, including why he continued to object to election results into the early morning hours of Jan. 7, and any communications he had with Trump, his legal team, and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on that topic.

It also asks about an excerpt in a book from ABC News’s Jonathan Karl where McCarthy reportedly told Trump and chief of staff Mark Meadows such an effort “was doomed to fail.”

“How did they respond? Why were they nevertheless so confident that the election result would be overturned?” the committee asks.

The letter also asks about any conversations McCarthy had with Trump ahead of President Biden’s inauguration, including a conversation with Trump around Jan. 11 of last year where The Bakersfield Californian reported McCarthy encouraged the then-president to “​​move forward with a peaceful transition of power.” 

“It appears that you may also have discussed with President Trump the potential he would face a censure resolution, impeachment, or removal under the 25th Amendment. It also appears that you may have identified other possible options, including President Trump’s immediate resignation from office,” the committee wrote.

McCarthy is the latest in a string of requests from the committee seeking voluntary cooperation with investigators, stopping short of subpoenaing sitting members of Congress. 

The committee has also sought voluntary interviews with Jordan as well as Rep. Scott Perry (R-Penn.) while Thompson has said the committee plans to issue a similar invitation to former Vice President Mike Pence by the end of the month.

Jordan over the weekend sent the committee a letter saying he would not be willing to appear before the committee. 

And McCarthy has been similarly dismissive, using a January letter to colleagues to accuse Democrats of using the panel “as a partisan political weapon to further divide our country.”

In an effort to combat a rejection from McCarthy, the committee pointed to an interview he gave in late December.

“I don’t really have anything to add. I have been very public, but I wouldn’t hide from anything,” McCarthy told KBAK.

Updated at 10:17 p.m.

Tags Bennie Thompson Capitol breach Donald Trump jan. 6 Jan. 6 Committee Jim Jordan Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Mark Meadows Mike Pence Scott Perry

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