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A right-wing mob, fueled by then-President Donald Trump's lies about voter fraud, violently rioted at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to prevent lawmakers from certifying the 2020 presidential election results in a joint session of the 117th Congress on January 6, 2021. (Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

In 'Political Tsunami,' House Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas GOP Lawmakers Including McCarthy

"We wished to provide members the opportunity to discuss these matters with the committee voluntarily," said the panel's chair. "Regrettably, the individuals receiving subpoenas today have refused."

Brett Wilkins

In an unprecedented move, the congressional committee investigating the deadly January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol spurred by then-President Donald Trump on Thursday subpoenaed five Republican House lawmakers, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, after they ignored the panel's request for voluntary cooperation.

"It's hard to imagine witnesses with more directly relevant evidence for our committee and more important information for the American people."

McCarthy (R-Calif.)—along with GOP Reps. Mo Brooks (Ala.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Scott Perry (Pa.), and Jim Jordan (Ohio)—were subpoenaed by the bipartisan January 6 select committee, in what CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel described as a "political tsunami."

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the committee, said the five lawmakers "have information relevant to our investigation into the attack on January 6th and the events leading up to it."

For example, McCarthy "was in communication with Trump before, during, and after the attack," the committee found. He "also claimed to have had a discussion with the president in the immediate aftermath of the attack during which President Trump admitted some culpability for the attack."

The committee alleges Perry "was directly involved with efforts to corrupt the Department of Justice and install Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general"—a move Trump attempted after Jeffrey Rosen, who held the post at the time, refused to undermine the 2020 presidential election results.

Brooks spoke at the January 6 "Stop the Steal" rally, based on the conspiracy theory that Trump won the election but Democrats rigged the outcome, just before the incensed mob marched on, and ultimately invaded, the Capitol.

Biggs was allegedly in contact with organizers of the January 6 rally, and the committee claims evidence points to his involvement in discussions about potential pardons for people involved in Trump's efforts to subvert the election.

The panel is also seeking information about Jordan's communications with Trump on and before January 6.

"These are people who participated in the rally, were on the phone with the president, who the president reportedly told to rescind the election, and one of whom may have been pursuing pardons for those involved," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a panel member, told reporters. "It's hard to imagine witnesses with more directly relevant evidence for our committee and more important information for the American people."

The five right-wing congressmen were also among the 147 Republican U.S. lawmakers who tried to subvert the 2020 presidential election in service of Trump's "Big Lie" that the contest was fraudulent.

"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."

So far, Republican lawmakers have paid no price for their refusal to cooperate with the committee. Speaking to reporters following Thursday's subpoena, McCarthy accused the bipartisan congressional committee of "not conducting a legitimate investigation," adding that "it seems as though they just want to go after their political opponents."

Asked whether the panel is prepared to hold the GOP lawmakers in contempt if they refuse to comply with the subpoenas, member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) told The Washington Post, "I'm not going there."

"I've got to believe," he added, "that every member of Congress will want to do his or her legal duty and patriotic duty to participate in an investigation into an attack on our own institution and an attack on the political institutions in the United States."

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