by Farnosh Amiri and Eric Tucker
WASHINGTON (AP) – A House panel probing the US Capitol uprising has requested an interview and records from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, as it continues to seek direct details from members of Congress on former President Donald Trump’s hundreds of days of actions. Is. Supporters brutally beat up police, stormed the building and obstructed the certification of the 2020 election.
McCarthy issued a statement Wednesday saying he would decline to cooperate. He said the investigation was not valid and accused the panel of “abuse of power”.
The panel’s Democratic chairman, Mississippi Rep. Benny Thompson, requested that McCarthy, R-Calif., provide information to the nine-member panel about his conversations with Trump before, during, and after the riot. The request also sought information about McCarthy’s communications with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in the days before the attack.
“We must also learn how the president’s plans for January 6 came together, and all the other ways he attempted to change the outcome of the election,” Thompson said in the letter. “For example, prior to January 6th, you allegedly explained to Mark Meadows and the former president that objections to the validation of electoral votes on January 6th were ‘doomed to fail.'”
Without their cooperation, it is unclear whether the panel would be able to obtain testimony from McCarthy or any of Trump’s other congressional aides. While the committee has considered summoning fellow MPs, this would be an extraordinary step and could run up against legal and political challenges.
Lawmakers are looking for a window into Trump’s state of mind from an aide, who has acknowledged repeated talks with the then-president. The committee also wants to question McCarthy about communications with Trump and White House staff in the weeks following the violence, including conversations with Trump that were reportedly heated.
Thompson wrote, “The committee acknowledged the sensitive and unusual nature of its request as it proposed a meeting with McCarthy on February 3 or 4. “The Select Committee has great respect for the privileges of Congress and the privacy of its members.” “At the same time, we have a serious responsibility to thoroughly investigate the facts and circumstances of these incidents.
Democrats have been seeking more information about McCarthy’s communications with Trump since the former president’s second impeachment trial last year. At one point in the trial, the Democrats said they would vote for Rep. Jaime Herrera would try to call Beutler, R-Wash, as a witness after he heard an account of McCarthy describing a potentially important call between the two men.
Herrera Beutler’s statement says McCarthy told her she told Trump publicly to “stop the rioting” and that the violent mob was made up of Trump supporters, not far-right Antifa members .
“Then, according to McCarthy, the president said, ‘Well, Kevin, I think these people are more upset about the election than you are,'” she said in the statement.
Finally, the Democrats read on record a statement by Herrera Beutler. Trump, who had just stepped down, was acquitted by the Senate.
McCarthy initially criticized Trump’s actions after the 2020 election, saying he “bears responsibility” for the deadly January 6 attack, the most serious domestic attack on the building in its history.
“The saddest day ever” in Congress, McCarthy called the night of the attack, even as he joined 138 other House Republicans in voting to reject the election results.
The panel’s latest request puts McCarthy face-to-face with its vice president, Representative Liz Cheney, whom he removed from the No. 3 House leadership position last summer because of public criticism of Trump’s lies about his 2020 election. . The loss resonated through the Republican Party.
The GOP leader had advised Cheney to stay on the message, but as he continued to warn the party of Trump’s lies, McCarthy hired a newly converted Trump retainer, Rep. Alice Stefanik, RN.Y., as his replacement. prepared to
McCarthy is the third member of Congress the committee has contacted for voluntary information. Over the past few weeks, GOP representatives Jim Jordan and Scott Perry were also contacted by the panel, but have declined requests to sit with lawmakers or provide documents.
The panel, which includes seven Democrats and two Republicans, has interviewed nearly 350 people and issued public summons to nearly 50 people and organizations as it seeks to create a comprehensive record of the January 6 attack and the events that followed.
On Wednesday, former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany spoke to the panel, who requested anonymity, to discuss it, according to a person familiar with the interview. The committee summoned McEnany in November.
The committee says the material it has collected – 35,000 pages of records to date, including texts, emails and phone records from people close to Trump – is uncovering important details of the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries. which was played out on live television.
Thompson told The Associated Press in an interview last month that nearly 90% of the witnesses presented by the committee have cooperated, despite disregarding high-profile Trump aides such as Meadows and Steve Bannon. The lawmakers said they have been effective in gathering information from other sources because they share a unity of purpose rarely seen in Congress’ investigations.
Associated Press writer Marie Claire Jalonik contributed to this report.