January 6 The committee requests Kevin McCarthy interview, records

WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives panel investigating the US Capitol Uprising on Wednesday requested an interview and records from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as it continues to seek first-hand information from members of Congress on former President Donald Trump’s actions on the day hundreds of his supporters brutally beat the police, stormed the building and interrupted the certification of the 2020 election.

Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson, Democratic chairman of the panel, asked McCarthy, R-Calif., To provide information to the nine-member panel regarding his talks with Trump “before, during and after” the riot. The request also seeks information about McCarthy’s communications with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the days before the attack.

“We also need to learn about how the president’s plans for January 6 coincided and all the other ways he tried to change the outcome of the election,” Thompson said in the letter. “For example, prior to January 6, you allegedly explained to Mark Meadows and the former president that objections to the certification of the January 6 election” were doomed to fail. “

A few hours after the committee’s request, McCarthy issued a statement saying he would refuse to cooperate. He said the investigation was not legitimate and was an “abuse of power.”

Without his cooperation, it is still unclear whether the panel will be able to get testimony from McCarthy or any other congressional ally of Trump. While the committee has considered suing other lawmakers, it would be an extraordinary step and could face legal and political challenges.

Lawmakers are seeking a window into Trump’s state of mind from an ally who has acknowledged repeated interactions with the then president. The committee also wants to question McCarthy about communication with Trump and White House staff in the week following the violence, including a conversation with Trump that was allegedly heated.

The committee acknowledged the sensitive and unusual nature of its request when it proposed a meeting with McCarthy on either February 3rd or 4th. “The select committee has enormous respect for the powers of Congress and the privacy of its members,” Thompson wrote. “At the same time, we have a solemn responsibility to fully investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding these events.

Democrats have been seeking more information about McCarthy’s communications with Trump since the former president’s second state court trial last year. At one point in the trial, Democrats said they would try to call the rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., As a witness because she had described a potentially crucial call between the two men after hearing a report from McCarthy.

Herrera Beutler’s statement said McCarthy told her he had asked Trump to publicly “interrupt the riot” and had said the violent mob consisted of Trump supporters, not extreme left-wing antifa members.

She said in the statement: “That was when, according to McCarthy, the president said, ‘Well, Kevin, I think these people are more bored with the election than you are.’

Finally, the Democrats read a statement from Herrera Beutler into the matter. Trump, who had just left office, was acquitted by the Senate.

McCarthy had initially criticized Trump’s actions after the 2020 election, saying he “bears responsibility” for the deadly January 6 attack, which is still the most serious domestic attack on the building in its history.

“The saddest day I’ve ever had” in Congress, McCarthy said the night of the attack, even as he continued to join 138 other Republicans in the House of Representatives in voting to reject election results.

The latest request from the panel also puts McCarthy face to face with its vice president, Rep. Liz Cheney, who he dumped from the House’s No. 3 leadership position last summer as her very public criticism of Trump’s lies about his 2020 election loss resonated through the Republican Party.

The GOP leader had advised Cheney to stay on the message, but as she continued to warn the party against Trump’s lies, McCarthy nurtured a newly transformed Trump acolyte, Rep. Elise Stefanik, RN.Y., as her successor.

McCarthy is the third member of Congress to be contacted by the committee for voluntary information. In the last few weeks, GOP representatives Jim Jordan and Scott Perry have also been contacted by the panel, but they have declined requests to sit down with lawmakers or provide documents.

The panel, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, has interviewed nearly 350 people and issued public subpoenas to about 50 people and organizations as it seeks to create a comprehensive record of the January 6 attack and the events that led to it. .

On Wednesday, former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany spoke virtually to the panel, according to a person familiar with the interview, who requested anonymity to discuss it. The committee sued McEnany in November.

The committee says the extraordinary crowd of material it has collected – 35,000 pages of records so far, including texts, emails and phone records from people close to Trump – is to elaborate on critical details of the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries, which played out on live TV.

Thompson told The Associated Press in an interview last month that about 90% of the witnesses summoned by the committee have cooperated despite the defiance of high-profile Trump allies like Meadows and Steve Bannon. Lawmakers have said they have been effective at gathering information from other sources, in part because they share a unit of purpose that is rarely seen in a congressional inquiry.

Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

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