May 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

McCarthy, GOP members rebuff Jan. 6 panel's subpoenas

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and three other House Republicans subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 select committee are signaling their refusal to testify before the panel.

Why it matters: The snubbing represents an escalation in already boiling tensions between the mostly Democratic committee and Republicans in Congress, and leaves the committee few clear avenues for recourse.

  • In the weeks since the subpoenas were issued, committee members have been taciturn when pressed on what, if any, options they have to force compliance.
  • In cases of former Trump administration staffers who have brushed off subpoenas, the committee has turned to referring them to the Justice Department for contempt, but that has yielded mixed results.

Driving the news: Elliot Berke, an attorney for McCarthy, sent a letter to Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) challenging the panel's legitimacy.

  • The letter argues that the presence of only nine members on the committee violates the resolution that established it, which says the “Speaker shall appoint 13 members" to the panel.
  • It also makes the case that the subpoena, which asks about McCarthy's phone call with former President Trump during the Jan. 6 attack and his comments in the aftermath, lacks a "valid legislative purpose."
  • Berke ends with a list of requests for the committee, including a "legal rationale justifying" questions they want to ask, concluding, "I expressly reserve Leader McCarthy’s right to assert any other applicable privilege or objection."

What they're saying: Select Committee spokesperson Tim Mulvey slammed McCarthy and the other Republicans' refusal to testify in a statement on Friday.

  • “Leader McCarthy and other Members who have been served subpoenas are hiding behind debunked arguments and baseless requests for special treatment," Mulvey said in the statement.
  • "The refusal of these Members to cooperate is a continued assault on the rule of law and sets a dangerous new precedent that could hamper the House’s ability to conduct oversight in the future."

The backdrop: Pelosi refused to seat two of McCarthy's five appointees to the panel last July, prompting McCarthy to pull all five of them.

  • The panel is comprised of seven Democrats and two Republicans – Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) – all picked by Pelosi.

The big picture: Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) all sent similar letters in response to the panel's subpoenas.

  • Jordan asked for all materials the panel is using to draft questions or that include his name, as well as all "legal analyses ... pertaining to the constitutionality" of the subpoenas before he can "adequately respond" to his subpoena.
  • A letter from Perry's attorney flatly states that he "declines to appear for deposition ... and requests that you withdraw the subpoena."
  • Biggs has formally objected to his subpoena as well, according to CNN.

Spokespeople for Biggs and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), the fifth member subpoenaed by the panel, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a Select Committee spokesperson Tim Mulvey's statement.

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