House Jan. 6 committee pushes back on legal challenge to its structure

The House Jan. 6 Select Committee pushed back against legal challenges to its authority to issue subpoenas, defending its Democratic-controlled structure as it tries to fend off a mounting number of lawsuits from former President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown Laura Ingraham 'not saying' if she'd support Trump in 2024 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Djokovic may not compete in French Open over vaccine requirement MORE and allies.

In a court filing Wednesday night, the select committee argued that the structure of the panel — comprised of seven Democrats and two Republicans — is consistent with the House's rules and that it has the authority to issue investigative demands. The filing came in response to a lawsuit from Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokesman challenging a subpoena for his financial records.

"Plaintiffs’ specific contentions—that the Select Committee cannot conduct business unless the Speaker appoints exactly thirteen Members after 'consultation' with (and, in Plaintiffs’ understanding, approval by) the Minority Leader — are belied by the text of the House’s governing resolution and the indisputable facts surrounding the appointments," the committee's lawyers wrote in the brief.

ADVERTISEMENT

The panel has been fighting in court for months as Republican leaders and operatives seek to block its subpoenas, but Wednesday's legal brief is perhaps the most comprehensive articulation of its authority that the select committee has submitted to a court.

Republicans have argued that the committee is improper because of its partisan imbalance and because House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi suggests filibuster supporters 'dishonor' MLK's legacy on voting rights The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat GOP senator knocks Biden for 'spreading things that are untrue' in voting rights speech MORE (D-Calif.) did not give the GOP authority to select its own delegates.

The two Republicans that Pelosi tapped as members — Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Left laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket The Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness MORE (R-Wyo.), the committee's vice chair, and Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' The fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Republican rep who voted to impeach Trump running for reelection MORE (R-Ill.) — are some of the most outspoken Trump critics in their party.

But the House's lawyers argued on Wednesday that the committee's structure is consistent with the resolution that created it. The brief pointed to recent examples of select committee structures, including one formed in 2005 to investigate the George W. Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina, which was comprised entirely of Republican members.

The panel's lawyers wrote that the House resolution does not require that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Former acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report GOP's McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel MORE (R-Calif.) be able to select the Republican members who sit on the committee.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Had the House intended a binding role for the Minority Leader, it could have provided for such a requirement. For instance, in the 116th Congress, the House created two Select Committees, both of which required that a portion of the Members be appointed by the Speaker 'on the recommendation of the Minority Leader,'" the filing reads.

"Similarly, had the House wanted to delegate appointment power directly to the Minority Leader, it knew how to do so."

"In contrast, when creating the Select Committee, the House did neither, instead deliberately selecting the phrase 'after consultation with the Minority Leader,' which plainly allows the Speaker greater authority and opportunity regarding the appointment of minority party Members."

A federal judge will hear arguments Jan. 20 over whether to grant Budowich an emergency restraining order against the committee.

--Updated 10:17 a.m.