Jan. 6 Panel Seeking to Question House GOP Leader McCarthy
(Bloomberg) -- The panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has asked the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, to answer questions about his communications with then-President Donald Trump and others before and after a mob stormed the building.
The committee wants to “learn about how the president’s plans for Jan. 6th came together, and all the other ways he attempted to alter the results of the election,” Representative Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who is chair of the select committee, wrote in a letter to McCarthy requesting the interview.
McCarthy, who has publicly acknowledged talking directly with Trump by telephone that day, said he would decline the request.
“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 on Wednesday night.
The panel has previously requested interviews with two other Republican lawmakers, Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Perry has tweeted he will refuse, and Jordan on Sunday sent Thompson a letter indicating he also will not voluntarily speak to the committee.
In his letter to McCarthy, Thompson cited comments the GOP leader made to CBS about his call with Trump while the mob swarmed the Capitol.
“I told him he needs to talk to the nation. I told him what was happening right then,” McCarthy said in that exchange. “I was very clear with the president when I called him. This has to stop and he has to go to the American public and tell them to stop this.”
Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Washington State Republican, said McCarthy relayed to her a slightly different account of the call at the time. Her statement was entered into the official record of Trump’s second impeachment trial last January.
“When McCarthy finally reached the president on Jan. 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol,” the statement said. “McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”’
McCarthy hopes to become House speaker if Republicans win the House majority in the 2022 midterm elections. The panel’s work has been under attack by McCarthy and other Republicans, who say it is a partisan attempt to harm Trump and Republicans before the November congressional elections.
Thompson, who has said more than 350 people have spoken with the committee, proposed a committee meeting with McCarthy on Feb. 3 or Feb. 4 or during the week of Feb. 7.
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