In a announcement issued later Wednesday, McCarthy said he would not cooperate with the request.
“As a representative and leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded not to participate in the abuse of power of this select committee that is tarnishing this institution today and will harm it in the future,” he said.
Asked if the panel would sue him to ensure his compliance, Thompson told reporters: “We will consider it.” McCarthy is the third GOP legislator the panel has asked to testify. The others, reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Have rejected the committee’s prayers. Both men were Trump’s key allies when he tried to undermine the 2020 election result.
Thompson said the committee is particularly interested in McCarthy’s shifting tone around his characterization of Trump’s actions during the riots, adding that members intend to ask him if Trump or his allies suggested, “what to say publicly during the trial (if called as a witness), or in any subsequent investigation into your conversations with him on January 6. “
In addition, Thompson said he was not aware if the committee had received any of McCarthy’s text messages or bank details. McCarthy’s telephone records were on an initial retention request that the committee sent to telecommunications companies at the beginning of its investigation.
In particular, the select panel has received a number of text messages sent and received by Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, who briefly collaborated on its investigation. The committee is also battling the former president in court to get call logs from Trump’s White House from the National Archives, a case pending before the Supreme Court.
McCarthy, who was instrumental in killing an attempt to set up a bipartisan commission to investigate the uprising, has spent months defeating the committee on January 6. Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy’s first choices to sit on the panel – Jordan and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) – and considered them intertwined with Trump to be credible investigators. In return, McCarthy withdrew his remaining three nominees and boycotted the committee altogether.
McCarthy also issued a thinly veiled threat to telecommunications companies that cooperated with the committee’s request on Jan. 6 for lawmakers’ phone records, saying a majority in the GOP next year “will not forget” their decisions.
The panel proposed a meeting on 3 or 4 February or some time the following week.
McCarthy has softened his tone towards Trump since the immediate aftermath of the Capitol riot. He initially said in the House of Representatives that Trump “bears responsibility” for the violence, but within six months he had begun to circumvent such issues.
Some House Republicans who wanted Trump to be purged from the party blame McCarthy for putting Trump back in a position of influence – especially after Parliament’s GOP leader met with Trump in Mar-a-Lago just weeks after the attack. However, the Trump loyalists in the House of Representatives welcomed the move.
McCarthy’s early criticism after the uprising angered Trump, who has at times cracked down on the legislature. But McCarthy has worked diligently to build relations with Trump and the former president’s allies in Parliament, while focusing on his goal of claiming the speaker’s hammer by 2023 if Republicans were to regain the chamber.
The GOP leader has also offered different answers when asked if he would testify. In May, he answered a journalist’s question with a “sure”. At other times, he has offered less clear answers.
In an interview with local California news channel Eyewitness News in late December, McCarthy was asked if he would testify before the panel on January 6. He replied, “I do not really have anything to add. I have been very public, but I did not want to hide for anything either.”
In its letter to McCarthy, the panel also revealed a new text message from Fox News host Laura Ingraham to Meadows urging Trump on January 12, 2021, to deter supporters from bringing weapons to state capitals.
“Comments on the camera deter protests against the state capital[o]Especially with weapons will be well advised given how hot the situation is. [E]everyone needs to calm down and pray for our country and for those who lost their lives last week, Ingraham told the then chief of staff.
The message came amid a growing fear that the State Capitols were vulnerable to violent attacks in the wake of the January 6 uprising.
A Fox News representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.