WASHINGTON — Four House Republicans, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Minority Leader, signaled Thursday that they would not cooperate with subpoenas from the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. , posing a dilemma for the panel that could have broad implications for the investigation and for Congress itself.
Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Andy Biggs of Arizona each sent letters to the committee opposing the inquiry ahead of depositions scheduled for this week, and Mr McCarthy of California filed a court case arguing the panel’s subpoenas. are illegitimate.
In a statement, Mr Perry called the Democratic-led committee a “kangaroo court” and accused the panel of “perpetuating political theater, defaming and destroying political opponents”.
Republican recalcitrance could hamper the committee’s investigation, leaving questions unanswered about the deadly mob attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, which left more than 150 police officers injured. It will also likely force the panel to decide whether to pursue criminal contempt of Congress charges against the men, which could spark a legal showdown the outcome of which could set a precedent for future congressional investigations.
Mr. Perry, Mr. Biggs and Mr. Jordan have been called to testify this week, with Mr. McCarthy and Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama scheduled for next week.
CNN reported earlier that Mr. Perry and Mr. Biggs had sent letters to the committee opposing the subpoenas. Mr. Brooks did not respond to a request for comment.
The men employed slightly different tactics to resist the subpoenas. While Mr. Perry has refused to appear – his lawyer has stated categorically that the congressman “refuses to appear for a deposition on May 26 and asks you to withdraw the subpoena” – Mr. Jordan has issued a long list of demands to which the panel was unlikely to agree. .
Mr Jordan, who is set to become chairman of the Judiciary Committee if his party takes control of Congress after the November midterms, demanded that “all documents, videos or other materials in the possession of the select committee” be used in his interrogation and any material the panel has in which his name appears.
“Your attempt to compel a colleague to testify about a colleague’s deliberations on a statutorily mandated legislative matter and an important constitutional office is a dangerous escalation of the House Democrats’ pursuit of political vendettas,” wrote Mr. Jordan to Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and President. of the committee.
A spokesperson for the committee declined to comment.
The men’s resistance came as 21 former Republican members of the House urged them to cooperate with the panel.
“We understand that you may have concerns about this exercise of the committee’s subpoena power,” the former members wrote in their letter, posted on Medium. “Indeed, in most circumstances, we would strongly advise against coercing the testimony of sitting members of Congress. But the exceptional nature of this circumstance is clear: a circumstance in which serving members may have first-hand knowledge of an attack on our government. The best way to ensure a full and fair account of what happened before and on January 6 is for you to provide your understanding of events and explain it to the American people.
The committee issued the subpoenas this month as it delved into the role Republicans played in attempts to void the 2020 election.
Mr. Perry, who coordinated a plan to try to replace the acting attorney general after resisting false claims of widespread voter fraud by Mr. Trump, argued in a letter to the committee that there was “nothing inappropriate” in his actions.
“The committee has no authority to issue the subpoena, and we respectfully request that it be immediately withdrawn,” wrote his attorney, John P. Rowley III.
The panel was told by at least one witness that Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, burned documents in his office fireplace after a meeting with Mr. Perry, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday. committee activities. The information was first reported by Politico. The Times reported on Wednesday that the committee had information that Mr Meadows had used his fireplace to dispose of documents.
Mr. McCarthy, along with Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican, filed a brief in support of Stephen K. Bannon, a Trump ally who was charged with contempt of Congress after failing to comply with a committee subpoena.
In the brief, Mr. McCarthy’s lawyers argued that the committee’s subpoenas were illegitimate because, they said, the panel does not follow House rules regarding the number of committee members and the role of Republicans on the panel. Several judges have already rejected this argument in other lawsuits.
Mr. Bannon is trying to have the contempt charges thrown out, and Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Scalise have sided with him, arguing that the January 6 committee’s prosecution of Mr. Bannon could cause ‘potential damage’ to the institution of the Chamber.
The panel’s decision to compel cooperation from Republicans was widely seen as unprecedented in the modern history of congressional investigations. In the House, subpoenas are almost never issued outside of the ethics committee, which is tasked with investigating allegations of member misconduct.
Before sending their letters, the subpoenaed Republicans discussed privately how best to respond, according to people familiar with their thinking who described it on condition of anonymity. Some have argued there’s a clear political advantage to challenging the committee — because former President Donald J. Trump’s base would almost certainly look favorable on the move — but some also fear weakening the authority of their own subpoenas if their party gains control of Congress.
Mr Thompson said if the men do not comply, another option beyond a contempt charge could be a referral to the ethics committee.
Maggie Haberman contributed report.