by Farnosh Amiri and Eric Tucker
WASHINGTON (AP) – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is denying a request to submit an interview to a House panel investigating the US Capitol uprising and to turn over records related to the deadly riot.
The panel is asking members of Congress for a direct account of the actions of then-President Donald Trump, the day hundreds of his supporters brutally beat police, stormed the building and obstructed the certification of the 2020 presidential election.
McCarthy, R-Calif., issued a statement Wednesday refusing to cooperate with the House committee. He said the investigation was not valid and accused the panel of “abuse of power”.
He told Fox News Channel on Thursday that I had a minute conversation with the president, then I went on to the national news – not one but several. I can’t add anything to this committee in the long run, and they certainly want to attack on the basis of a political circle, when you have that number of committee members saying that their goal is to give me a chance to be speaker. have to give. This is politics.” (edited)
Mississippi Representative Benny Thompson, the Democratic chairman of the panel, requested that McCarthy provide the nine-member panel with information about his conversations with Trump before, during and after the riot. The request also sought information about McCarthy’s communications with the then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the days before the attack.
McCarthy told Fox News Channel on Thursday that he had nothing to add beyond his media interviews after the riots. He claimed that some members of the House panel want to “never give me a chance to be speaker” if Republicans retake the House in the 2022 midterm elections.
In his letter, Thompson said that the panel “should learn about how the president’s plans for January 6 came together, and about all the other ways they attempted to change the results of the election. For example, from January 6″. Previously, you allegedly explained to Mark Meadows and the former president that the January 6 objection to the validation of electoral votes was ‘doomed to fail.'”
It is unclear whether the panel will 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.
The panel is 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 were going to 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 said McCarthy told him she told Trump publicly to “stop the rioting” and that the violent mob was made up of Trump supporters, not far-left Antifa members, As Trump initially claimed.
“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. In 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.