Updated Jan 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Kevin McCarthy declines interview with Jan. 6 select committee

Kevin McCarthy

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Wednesday he will not participate with the Jan. 6 select committee's request to interview him about his communications with former President Trump.

Driving the news: McCarthy, the highest-ranking elected official the panel has asked for information, said that he had nothing to add and criticized the panel's "abuse of power."

  • "As a representative and the leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded to not participate with this select committee’s abuse of power that stains this institution today and will harm it going forward," McCarthy said in a statement.

The big picture: The committee has also requested information from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), the chair of the House Freedom Caucus. Both refused to cooperate.

  • The committee is weighing whether it has the authority to bring subpoenas against sitting members of Congress.
  • "I just don't even think that's a close question," said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) of the legality of subpoenas. He said the committee has had "no formal discussions" about the matter since returning from break.

What they're saying: "You have acknowledged speaking directly with the former President while the violence was underway on January 6th," Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chair of the committee, wrote to McCarthy in a letter.

  • Thompson said the content of their conversations on Jan. 6 "bears directly on President Trump's state of mind" during the attack.
  • Thompson also cited McCarthy's support for election objections after the attack. The committee "wishes to question you regarding communications you may have had with President Trump, President Trump’s legal team, Representative Jordan, and others at the time on that topic," he wrote.

Other questions Thompson said the committee has for McCarthy revolve around his conversations with Trump and the White House in the aftermath of Jan. 6, including about censure, impeachment, resignation and the 25th Amendment.

  • Thompson said the committee is "concerned about the potential for continued violence," asking McCarthy if he communicated concerns about violence in the lead-up to Jan. 6 with the Trump administration.
  • Thompson also said the committee has questions about McCarthy's Jan. 28 meeting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, specifically whether Trump or his team nudged McCarthy to defend Trump during the impeachment trial.

What's next: Thompson said the committee would like to meet with McCarthy on Feb. 3 or 4, or the week of Feb. 7.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from McCarthy.

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