Several Republican delegates, including Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, have refused to cooperate with the House select committee on the January 6 attacks, and the committee may now seek further options to obtain information from them, including potential criminal charges. .
The committee requested an appearance from Jordan on 22 December to collect information related to his knowledge of the riots at the US Capitol. However, Jordan, who backed former President Donald Trump’s efforts to invalidate the results of the 2020 presidential election, sent a letter to the committee on Sunday saying he had “no relevant information that would be relevant to any legislative Will assist the selection committee in furtherance of the objective.”
Jordan reportedly spoke with the former president on January 6, 2021, and had phone conversations with Trump employees and legal advisers.
In response, the committee, headed by Democratic Representative Benny Thompson of Mississippi, stated that Jordan “[failed] To address the main premise of the Select Committee’s request for a meeting in which he worked directly with President Trump and the Trump legal team to attempt to reverse the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election.
“Mr. Jordan has admitted that he spoke directly to President Trump on January 6 and is thus a physical witness,” the committee said.
Perry was the first current member of Congress to reach the committee after requesting an interview with Jordan on December 20, two days before Jordan. Perry similarly promoted false claims of electoral fraud and was reportedly a key member of the effort to install Trump loyalist Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general.
Perry declined the interview request, calling the committee “illegitimate”.
Following these denials of information, the committee may move to legal action to get members of the Republican Party to cooperate with the investigation. It would not be an unprecedented move, as even members of Trump’s inner circle have seen the results after refusing to cooperate with the committee.
Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, and Steve Bannon, his former top strategist, were both held in contempt of Congress by the House after ignoring congressional summons from the committee. Bannon surrendered himself to the authorities shortly thereafter, and Meadows later agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
Although both of these individuals were not sitting Congressmen at the time of their allegations, the committee could eventually proceed to issue summons seeking information from Jordan and Perry.
Their own legislative body could potentially hold them in contempt of Congress if they refuse to cooperate with the summons. The power of Congress to hold people in contempt is not invested in the Constitution, but an implied power, and the legal precedence for contempt of Congress charges has been upheld by the Supreme Court.
High Court upholds power of Congress to issue summons in 1957 case Watkins v. United States, as well as the power to accuse of contempt in 1917 Marshall V. Gordon,
These powers legally extend to government officials at the highest level who refuse to cooperate with Congressional subpoenas.
Perhaps the most notable example was during the Watergate scandal, when Congress considered then-President Richard Nixon in contempt after he refused to comply with a subpoena relating to a record tape on the incident.
It seems legally plausible, that current members of Congress could face similar charges if eventually summons are issued and ignored. Meadows, himself a former member of the House, was the first former member of Congress to be charged with contempt.
newsweek Representatives have reached out to Thompson’s office for comment.