Jan. 6 panel urges ethics review for McCarthy, GOP lawmakers

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has referred Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and three other GOP lawmakers to undergo an ethics investigation for their refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas

Farnoush Amiri
Monday 19 December 2022 21:01 GMT

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Louise Thomas

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Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and three other GOP lawmakers should face ethics investigations for their refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas, the House Jan. 6 committee said Monday in the culmination of a monthslong standoff over their testimony.

The committee had issued subpoenas in May for the testimony of McCarthy — who is vying to become House speaker in January — as well as Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and Andy Biggs of Arizona, saying all had crucial information to share about the Jan. 6 attack and the actions of former President Donald Trump.

But all of them defied the order for testimony and documents. The Jan. 6 committee on Monday acknowledged that sending referrals to the House Ethics Committee was a major step, but said their defiance could not go unanswered.

Another GOP member who ignored a committee subpoena, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama who is leaving Congress after this year, was not cited by the panel.

“This was a significant step, but it was one that was warranted by the certain volume of information these members possessed that was relevant to the Select Committee’s investigation, as well as the centrality of their efforts to President Trump’s multi-part plan to remain in power,” the Jan. 6 committee wrote in explaining the referrals.

It will ultimately be up to the House Ethics panel, which is evenly decided between the parties, to investigate and decide on any punishment. The committee, which is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct by members, has authority under the chamber’s rules to subpoena members for testimony or documents, and members are required to comply.

Russell Dye, a spokesperson for Jordan, called the decision “another partisan and politician stunt” by the committee.

Jay Ostrich, a spokesperson for Perry, dismissed the committee's move as “more games from a petulant and soon-to-be defunct kangaroo court desperate for revenge and struggling to get out from under the weight of its own irrelevance.”

Requests for comment from McCarthy and Biggs were not immediately returned.

The Jan. 6 committee also appealed directly to the Justice Department in their final report, suggesting that the testimony of McCarthy, Jordan and other Republicans in Trump's orbit could be of importance to the ongoing federal investigations, including special counsel Jack Smith's probe into Jan. 6 and Trump’s actions. The testimony of the lawmakers, the panel suggested, could be obtained “via grand jury subpoena or otherwise.”

Lawmakers had sought testimony from McCarthy, who has acknowledged he spoke with Trump on Jan. 6 as the president's supporters were outside the Capitol and violently forcing their way into the building. At the time, the California lawmaker said he believed Trump bore responsibility for what had happened at the Capitol. But McCarthy later changed his tone, visiting Trump in Florida and rallying House Republicans to vote against investigations of the attack.

The committee had also subpoenaed Jordan, Perry, Biggs and Brooks, who attended meetings at the White House before Jan. 6 as Trump and his aides worked to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

Perry spoke to the White House about replacing acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with an official who was more sympathetic to Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, while Biggs was involved in plans to bring protesters to Washington and pressuring state officials to overturn the legitimate election results, according to the panel. Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, was in contact with Trump on Jan. 6 and also involved in strategizing how to overturn the election.

Brooks, who has since become critical of Trump, was the only member not referred to the Ethics Committee. He had spoken alongside the former president at the massive rally in front of the White House the morning of Jan. 6, telling supporters to “start taking down names and kicking ass” before hundreds of them broke into the Capitol.

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