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Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Kevin McCarthy, four other House Republicans

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The committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob has subpoenaed five Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), after they refused to cooperate with the panel’s inquiry.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the select committee, said Thursday that the panel has subpoenaed McCarthy and Reps. Mo Brooks (Ala.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio).

The move marks a significant escalation in the committee’s efforts to obtain information related to lawmakers’ communications with then-President Donald Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows before, during and after the attack.

In a statement, Thompson said the committee “has learned that several of our colleagues have information relevant to our investigation into the attack on January 6th and the events leading up to it.”

“Before we hold our hearings next month, we wished to provide members the opportunity to discuss these matters with the committee voluntarily,” Thompson said. “Regrettably, the individuals receiving subpoenas today have refused and we’re forced to take this step to help ensure the committee uncovers facts concerning January 6th. We urge our colleagues to comply with the law, do their patriotic duty, and cooperate with our investigation as hundreds of other witnesses have done.”

The committee said in its letters to McCarthy and Brooks that it is compelling the two Republicans to appear for depositions on May 31. Depositions of Biggs and Perry are scheduled for May 26, and Jordan is scheduled to testify on May 27.

The subpoenas come ahead of the committee’s long-awaited public hearings, which are scheduled to begin June 9.

Until Thursday, the committee had been reluctant to subpoena GOP lawmakers because of a variety of issues, including time constraints — a complex and lengthy legal fight could last beyond the November midterm elections — along with fears of retribution in the likely case that Republicans win back the House majority.

Investigators have been working to identify precedents for subpoenaing sitting members, according to two people familiar with the inquiry. One example on which they’ve focused is the House Ethics Committee’s two-year-long probe into the personal finances of former congressman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.). Rangel, who was ultimately found guilty on 11 ethics charges, was subpoenaed by the investigative subcommittee after refusing repeated requests for a forensic accountant’s report and other documents.

All five of the Republican lawmakers subpoenaed Thursday have declined to voluntarily provide information to the committee.

In a brief interview with reporters Thursday, McCarthy declined to say whether he would comply with the subpoena while reiterating his criticism of the committee.

“My view on the committee has not changed,” he said. “They’re not conducting a legitimate investigation. It seems as though they just want to go after their political opponents.”

Jordan also declined to say whether he would comply. The other lawmakers did not immediately respond to news of the subpoenas.

In a January letter to McCarthy, Thompson said the panel is interested in his correspondence with Meadows ahead of the attack, along with McCarthy’s communications with Trump during and after the riot. Details of those conversations could provide the committee with further insight into Trump’s state of mind at the time, Thompson wrote.

“We also must learn about how the President’s plans for January 6th came together, and all the other ways he attempted to alter the results of the election,” he wrote. “For example, in advance of January 6th, you reportedly explained to Mark Meadows and the former President that objections to the certification of the electoral votes on January 6th ‘was doomed to fail.’”

McCarthy responded in January by arguing in a statement that the committee’s “only objective is to attempt to damage its political opponents.”

If Republicans retake the House in November, McCarthy is widely expected to be elected speaker — although some members of the House GOP conference have expressed reservations after the recent leak of audio recordings in which McCarthy blamed Trump for the insurrection and voiced alarm about the actions of several House Republicans days after the Jan. 6 attack.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said he would defer to McCarthy and others on whether they should comply with the subpoenas. He maintained — as almost all in the House GOP have said — that the bipartisan committee is “a witch hunt.”

“It’s a political circus,” Banks said. “It’s a joke. And nobody’s surprised that they’ve taken another step to completely politicize this.”

Asked Thursday whether he thinks McCarthy and the other four Republicans will comply with the subpoenas, Thompson replied, “I hope they do.”

Throughout the investigation, the names of the five Republicans “have come up in a number of ways, and we feel that information and responding to it is important,” Thompson told reporters at the Capitol.

He declined to say whether a contempt vote may be in the works if the lawmakers refuse to comply.

“No conversation about contempt. We’ll talk about next steps, which could be a number of things,” Thompson said.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) rejected the notion that the committee’s decision to subpoena the five lawmakers marks a political escalation.

“It’s not an escalation at all,” Hoyer said Thursday. “We ought to all be subject to being asked to tell the truth before a committee that is seeking information that is important to our country and our democracy.”

He shrugged off suggestions that Democrats may be exposing themselves to future subpoenas under a potential Republican majority.

“I have no problem being subpoenaed personally,” Hoyer said. “You know, I’ll tell the truth. If I have information they need, that’s fine. I do not understand this extraordinary reaction to pursuing a legal, appropriate process.”

Marianna Sotomayor, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.

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