McCarthy says he will not cooperate with the committee’s January 6 investigation

“As a representative and leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded not to participate in this abuse of power by this select committee that is tarnishing this institution today and will harm it in the future,” McCarthy said in a statement Wednesday night.

The Republican leader accused the committee of “not conducting a lawful inquiry,” citing House Speaker Nancy Pelosis, rejecting some of his choices to serve on the panel, claiming it “serves no legislative purpose.”

The Vice-Chairman of the Committee, the Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, did not rule out the possibility that the panel would sue McCarthy in the future, saying late Wednesday: “We will evaluate our options, but we will get to the truth.”

The committee’s request to McCarthy, outlined in a new letter released Wednesday, marks a significant moment in the ongoing investigation as the panel now seeks the cooperation of the House’s top Republican.

“We also need to learn about how the president’s plans for January 6 coincided and all the other ways he tried to change the outcome of the election,” wrote committee chair Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat. “For example, prior to January 6, you reportedly explained to Mark Meadows and the former president that objections to the certification of the January 6 election ‘were’ doomed to fail ‘.”

The letter quoted several previous comments from McCarthy after the riot, including interviews in which he discussed his conversations with Trump as the violence unfolded.

“As is immediately clear, all of this information has a direct bearing on President Trump’s state of mind during the January 6 attack while the violence was going on,” it said, providing a window into what the committee wants to discuss with the minority leader.

The panel also made it clear that it wants to question McCarthy about his communications with Trump, White House staff and others in the week following the January 6 attack, “especially regarding President Trump’s state of mind at the time.”

LIST: Who the committee has convened or asked to meet on 6 January

“The select committee has concurrent text messages from several witnesses identifying significant concerns after Jan. 6 held by White House staff and the president’s supporters regarding President Trump’s state of mind and his ongoing behavior. It appears that you had a or more conversations with the President during this period, ”the letter states.

“It seems that you may also have discussed with President Trump about the potential for him to face a no-confidence motion, a federal lawsuit or removal under the 25th Amendment. It also seems that you can have identified other possible options, including President Trump’s immediate resignation, “he added.

In the letter, the committee tracks McCarthy’s public comments since the attack and questions whether Trump pressured him to change his tone when the couple met in late January 2021.

“Your public statements regarding January 6 have changed markedly since you met with Trump,” the panel said in the letter. At that meeting, or at any other time, President Trump or his representatives discussed or suggested what to say in public, during the trial (if called as a witness), or in a later examination of your conversations with him in January. 6.? “

The panel cites several public reports on the heated exchange between McCarthy and Trump as the attack unfolded, which it wants to learn more about.

Fact-check Jim Jordan's letter to the committee January 6th

CNN has previously reported on a phone call between McCarthy and Trump while the Capitol was under attack on Jan. 6, with Trump saying the troublemakers were more concerned about the election results than McCarthy did.

The letter also cites an interview in which McCarthy told a local California news outlet that on January 6, he had a “very heated” conversation with Trump, in which he told the then president to “get help” for the Capitol.

By May 2021, McCarthy had told CNN’s Manu Raju that “surely” he would be willing to testify about his talks with Trump on January 6 if asked to do so by an outside commission.

McCarthy is the third Republican lawmaker the committee has asked for cooperation from, after letters to reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Jim Jordan of Ohio in recent weeks. Both Perry and Jordan have indicated they will not cooperate voluntarily with the committee, and CNN reported earlier Wednesday that even the panel is currently considering its options to get members to comply.

It is about defining a path that will give them the best opportunity to get the information and the interviews they are looking for, using the powers that the committee has at their disposal.

Kevin McCarthy's comment is a warning sign

The committee is struggling with whether they have the constitutional right to sue their members and if they have whether they have an enforcement mechanism in place that will ultimately lead to cooperation.

But Wednesday’s letter makes it clear that the committee will continue to seek information from their colleagues, even though they are considering what to do if Republicans continue to oppose their overtures.

Thompson told CNN separately that the committee specifically wants to hear from McCarthy about why he gave a speech on January 13, in which he said Trump “bears responsibility” for the January 6 attack.

“We have to get him before the committee to just say, why did you come up with that statement?” said Thompson. “We want to know, you called the White House and said, ‘hey, what’s going on?’ “We do not know. We think it is important, because a few days later he was on the floor and said that the president bore some responsibility for what happened. And then we want to know where did you come to that decision?”

Thompson said the committee does not currently have phone records of McCarthy or anything other than his public statements, and the decision on whether the panel will ask the minority leader to pass on documents must be “decided.”

Asked if the panel would sue McCarthy if he refused to accept its voluntary request, Thompson said, “We will consider it.”

This story and headline has been updated with further developments on Wednesday.

CNN’s Morgan Rimmer and Manu Raju contributed to this report.


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