What the January 6 panel wants to learn from 5 GOP lawmakers

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WASHINGTON — In deciding to take the highly unusual step of issuing subpoenas to five Republican members of Congress, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack concluded that trying to compel their testimony was significant enough to justify an escalation step involving their colleagues.

The five Republicans subpoenaed Thursday have previously refused to appear voluntarily before the commission. The most prominent of them, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, is his party’s House leader and is on course to become president if Republicans take control of the House in November. He has sought legal advice in recent months on how to fight a subpoena, although he has not yet said how he would react to the panel action.

But the committee has made it clear that it believes all five may have material information for its efforts to document the efforts of President Donald J. Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which resulted in the election. Assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, by a pro-Trump crowd.

Here are the topics the committee might be interested in hearing from each of the five Republicans.

The committee is seeking to ask Mr. McCarthy about conversations he had with Mr. Trump during and after the attack about his culpability in the assault and what should be done about it. The committee also suggested that Mr. Trump, whose political support is vital to Mr. McCarthy, may have influenced the congressman’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation.

Mr. McCarthy admitted to having a heated argument with Mr. Trump during the attack on the Capitol, during which the president appeared to side with the rioters as they tore up the field.

According to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Washington Republican who said Mr. McCarthy told him about the exchange, Mr. Trump ignored Mr. McCarthy’s pleas to call the rioters and sided with him. them instead, saying, “Well, Kevin, I guess those people are more upset about the election than you are.

Interest in the details of those conversations has only increased in light of audio leaks in which Mr McCarthy told colleagues that Mr Trump had expressed a sense of being partly responsible for the attack. .

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The audio, obtained by The New York Times and published in April, showed Mr McCarthy recounting an exchange with the former president, in which he said Mr Trump had been relatively contrite about how his language regarding the election could have contributed to the riot. .

“Does he feel bad about what happened? He told me he had some responsibility for what happened and he had to own up to it,” Mr McCarthy said in the recording.

Earlier, Mr. McCarthy had told his colleagues that he was going to push Mr. Trump to resign.

The committee first publicly approached Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania in December with a letter requesting information, in the panel’s first formal attempt to interview a sitting member of Congress.

Committee members argued that Mr. Perry, who leads the deeply conservative House Freedom Caucus, was a key architect of a plan to install Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, as acting attorney general after appearing sympathetic to Mr. Trump. false allegations of widespread electoral fraud.

Mr Clark seemed keen to pursue various conspiracy theories about polling booth hacking and other forms of voter fraud, as well as pressuring state election officials to nullify the results in Georgia.

Committee members and investigators said Mr. Perry introduced Mr. Clark and the former president. They also found evidence that Mr Perry was in frequent contact with Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, via encrypted messaging services in the weeks leading up to January 6.

After the election, Mr. Perry helped build a record of alleged voter fraud and also encouraged Mr. Trump’s supporters to participate in the march on Capitol Hill that sparked the riot.

Mr. Perry, a former Army helicopter pilot who is close to Mr. Meadows and another of the Republicans currently under subpoena, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, has coordinated many efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power. His colleagues called him General Perry; he retired from the Pennsylvania National Guard in 2019.

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Committee members expressed interest in the testimony of Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama after he broke with Mr. Trump and accused the former president of pressing him to find a way to remove President Biden from power.

While Mr. Brooks was initially among Mr. Trump’s staunchest allies in challenging the election result, their relationship soured after the former president withdrew his endorsement of Mr. Brooks in the primary Republican for the Alabama Senate seat in March.

Before that, Mr Brooks had campaigned on false claims that the 2020 election had been rigged. He had been one of the speakers alongside Mr Trump at the rally in Washington that preceded the riot.

But after the former president withdrew his endorsement, Mr Brooks made startling claims that Mr Trump had repeatedly called him to find a way to invalidate the election and somehow withdraw from another Mr. Biden. If the claims are true, they would show Mr Trump continued his efforts to overturn the outcome long after he left office. Mr. Trump did not deny making these statements.

“President Trump has asked me to cancel the 2020 election, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately return President Trump to the White House, and call a new special election for the presidency,” he said. Mr. Brooks said in a statement in March. .

His account of the conversations was the first time a lawmaker close to Mr. Trump has suggested the former president encouraged actions that, if taken, would have violated federal law.

In a letter to Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona in May, committee leaders described evidence linking the congressman to a series of organizational efforts, including “planning meetings” aimed at luring protesters to Washington. January 6th.

The letter also outlined a plan by several House Republicans to seek presidential clemency for “activities undertaken in connection with President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.”

“Your name has been identified as a potential participant in this effort,” he said.

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It’s unclear whether Mr. Biggs or other House Republicans have formally approached Mr. Trump to find out what would amount to a precautionary pardon, or what crime those pardons would have served. Mr Biggs this week declined to answer questions about potential pardons.

A former head of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, Mr. Biggs has also tried to persuade state lawmakers to join Mr. Trump’s efforts to void the election.

As one of Mr. Trump’s fiercest defenders in Congress, Mr. Jordan has backed him through several hardships during his presidency, including serving as his chief defender during Mr. .Trump.

In the weeks following the election, Mr. Jordan met regularly with White House advisers to coordinate messages about the outcome, often following false allegations of fraud in media appearances.

House panel members and investigators pushed aggressively for details of conversations between Mr Jordan and Mr Trump on the day of the riot, after call recordings indicated the two spoke to each other on the phone that morning.

Mr. Jordan has been deeply involved in Mr. Trump’s efforts to fight the election results, including participating in planning meetings in November 2020 at the Trump campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, and a meeting in the White House in December 2020.

On January 5, 2021, Mr. Jordan forwarded Mr. Meadows a text message he had received from a lawyer and former Pentagon inspector general outlining a legal strategy to void the election.

“On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call all electoral votes that he deems unconstitutional because no electoral votes at all – in accordance with the directives of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and the jurisprudence . “, we read in the text.

Mr. Jordan has admitted to having spoken with Mr. Trump on January 6, although he said he did not remember how many times they spoke that day or when the calls took place. One of Mr. Jordan’s conversations with Mr. Trump that day, a 10-minute phone call, was included in the official White House call log.

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