Jan. 6 committee ups the ante, subpoenas key House Republicans

Early last week, after receiving an invitation from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, Rep. Mo Brooks said he had no intention of cooperating with the probe. “I wouldn’t help Nancy Pelosi and Liz Cheney cross the street — I’m definitely not going to help them and their partisan Witch Hunt Committee,” the Alabama Republican said.

Brooks’ statement added, “[I]f they want to talk, they’re gonna have to send me a subpoena.”

As it turns out, it’s funny that he put it that way. NBC News reported this afternoon:

The committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol took the unprecedented step Thursday of issuing subpoenas to five Republican congressmen, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The Democratic-controlled committed previously asked the congressmen, which also include Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Andy Biggs of Arizona, to sit for voluntary interviews, but all had refused. 

It’s important to emphasize that this is a historically bold move. NBC News’ report added, “With the exception of ethics committee investigations, the subpoenas are believed to be the first congressional subpoenas to sitting members and will almost certainly be challenged in court.”

In a written statement, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson said today, “The Select 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.

“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.”

In case anyone needs a refresher, let’s revisit our earlier coverage to review how we arrived at this point. It was shortly before Christmas when the select committee requested information from Republican Rep. Scott Perry. The Pennsylvanian’s anti-election work with the Trump White House made him an obvious person of interest — his significance has only grown since — but Perry nevertheless said soon after that he would not cooperate with the investigation.

Next up was Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, whom investigators sought out a week later. Despite the Ohioan’s repeated insistence that he had “nothing to hide,” the far-right congressman, whose relevance to the probe is obvious, signaled his intention to ignore the committee’s request.

Then, of course, there was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has unique insights into what happened, but who also said he would refuse to cooperate with his own chamber’s investigation.

Months went by without any additional movement on this specific front, right up until last week when the committee sent requests for voluntary interviews to three more House Republicans: Arizona’s Andy Biggs, Alabama’s Brooks, and Texas’ Ronny Jackson.

Like the original trio, there was no great mystery as to why these three were, and are, of particular interest to investigators.

Last month, the committee submitted a court filing that noted, among other things, that in the runup to the attack on the Capitol, then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was in frequent communications with a variety of far-right House Republicans. The panel specifically referenced testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, an aid who worked with Meadows, who referenced a Dec. 21, 2020, strategy session that Biggs attended. Naturally, committee members want to hear more about this.

What’s more, the request for a voluntary interview said the committee has information regarding the Arizonan’s efforts to persuade state legislators to accept Trump’s lies about his election defeat as part of the effort to overturn the results.

The panel also told Biggs, “[R]ecent information from former White House personnel has identified an effort by certain House Republicans after January 6th to seek a presidential pardon for activities taken in connection with President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Your name was identified as a potential participant in that effort.”

Jackson, meanwhile, was the subject of provocative text messages sent among Oath Keepers members during the insurrectionist riot.

As for Brooks, he spoke at Trump’s pre-riot rally; he attended the aforementioned Dec. 21 strategy session; and a couple of months ago, the Alabama congressman — who’s also a US Senate candidate — said in writing that the former president asked him to ignore legal limits to help overturn the 2020 election. The written statement came on the heels of Trump rescinding his earlier endorsement of Brooks’ Senate campaign.

In fact, Brooks said that Trump asked him to “rescind” the 2020 elections, remove President Joe Biden from office, reinstall Trump into the White House, and “hold a new special election for the presidency.” According to his account of him, the lawmaker told the former president that such steps were not possible.

Of the six GOP members who were invited to provide voluntary testimony, Jackson was the only one who wasn’t subpoenaed today.

So what will happen now? One possibility is that these House Republicans will honor the subpoenas, testify under oath, and provide investigators with valuable information.

Let’s put that in the “not likely to happen” category.

Another possibility is that the GOP members will thumb their noses at the subpoenas, touching off a fierce and largely unprecedented legal fight.

Watch this space.

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