House GOP leader McCarthy, four other Republicans subpoenaed by Jan. 6 panel

Committee demands Kevin McCarthy, Scott Perry, Jim Jordan, Andy Biggs and Mo Brooks sit for interviews

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during the House Republicans’ news conference in the Capitol to discuss defunding the Homeland Security Department’s Disinformation Governance Board on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during the House Republicans’ news conference in the Capitol to discuss defunding the Homeland Security Department’s Disinformation Governance Board on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted May 12, 2022 at 2:53pm

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot issued subpoenas to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and four other members of his conference, demanding they appear for a deposition — a move that comes after they refused to voluntarily sit for interviews.

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., sent subpoenas to McCarthy and Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama. He directed them to sit for depositions at the end of the month. All of those members dismissed opportunities to meet voluntarily with the special panel.

Thompson’s significant action comes as the committee is gearing up to hold public hearings in June and amounts to a dramatic turn in its probe of what happened before, during and after the attack by a pro-Donald Trump mob.

“The Select Committee has learned that several of our colleagues have information relevant to our investigation into the attack on January 6th and the events leading up to it,” Thompson said in a statement. “Before we hold our hearings next month, we wished to provide members the opportunity to discuss these matters with the committee voluntarily. Regrettably, the individuals receiving subpoenas today have refused and we’re forced to take this step to help ensure the committee uncovers facts concerning January 6th.”

Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., a Jan. 6 panel member, was asked Thursday what the committee would do if the five members opt to ignore the subpoenas. “We’ll handle that when that happens,” she replied.

One of the only two Republicans on the investigatory committee, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, said of the summoned Republicans: “I certainly hope that they will do their duty, that they will do the right thing.

“And the unprecedented nature of the attack, and of the fact that we have members who have information about an attack on our body and have been unwilling to come and talk to the committee is [a] very serious and grave situation,” Cheney told reporters. “And this determination to issue these subpoenas was not a decision the committee made lightly, but it is absolutely a necessary one. And I would hope that my colleagues, you know, will understand that the sanctity of this body and the continued functioning of our constitutional republic requires that we ensure that there never be an attack like that again.”

When asked by Capitol Hill pool reporters if he intends to comply with the subpoena, McCarthy did not answer directly. “I have not seen the subpoena. I guess they sent it to you guys before they sent it to me,” the California Republican said, adding that his view that the panel is “not conducting a legitimate investigation” has not changed.

McCarthy spoke with Trump on the day of the insurrection. McCarthy recounted to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., a conversation he had with the then-president while the attack was happening. Herrera Beutler said when McCarthy reached Trump that day he asked Trump to make a statement calling off his supporters, and that Trump falsely said the rioters were Antifa members. When McCarthy told Trump the rioters were supporters of his, Trump allegedly replied, “‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,’” according to Herrera Beutler’s account of her conversation with the GOP leader.

The committee says McCarthy was in contact with Trump before, during and after the attack, and that he also spoke with other members of the White House staff. 

The panel wants to hear from Perry, the chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, because it has evidence from multiple witnesses, including former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, that Perry played a direct role in pushing to implement Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general. Perry also had communications with the White House about allegations that Dominion voting machines had been corrupted, the committee said.

"That this illegitimate body leaked their latest charade to the media ahead of contacting targeted Members is proof once again that this political witch hunt is about fabricating headlines and distracting Americans from their abysmal record of running America into the ground," Perry tweeted Thursday.

Jordan is of interest to the committee because he was in contact with Trump on Jan. 6 and was involved in meetings and talks from late 2020 to early 2021 on ways to overturn the 2020 presidential election that Trump and other Republicans falsely claim was tilted by Democrats in favor of Joe Biden, the panel said.

The committee wants to hear from Biggs because he participated in meetings to plan components of Jan. 6 and was part of an effort to bring protesters to Washington, D.C., for the counting of Electoral College votes. He was also a part of efforts to convince state officials that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, the panel said.

Brooks, who spoke at Trump’s Save America Rally on the Ellipse, said rioters should “start taking down names and kicking ass” and has publicly said Trump urged him to work to “rescind the election of 2020” and make Trump president once more.

Furthermore, the panel says it has evidence that members of Brooks’ staff met with former Vice President Mike Pence’s staff before Jan. 6, a meeting during which it was relayed by the vice president’s team that Pence lacked the legal authority to refuse to count certified electoral votes, according to the committee.

Thompson said there will be eight hearings in June, starting on the 9th. He said he has asked certain members to handle specific components of the hearings.

Asked if the committee can complete its work effectively without the depositions of McCarthy, Perry, Brooks, Jordan and Biggs, Thompson replied, “It would add additional clarity to the investigation. I hope they come. But we are committed to producing a qualified document that will stand any scrutiny that it receives.”

Last week, Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, was among those asked by the committee to voluntarily appear for an interview. Thompson did not rule out sending more subpoenas.

“We’re not through issuing subpoenas, you know, so there are a number of people we’re looking at,” Thompson said, “but this is our first tranche of subpoenas that we pushed out.”