The House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed five of its colleagues Thursday as it tries to uncover what sparked the riot.
The panel subpoenaed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as well as Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Mo Brooks, R-Ala.; Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; and Scott Perry, R-Pa., according to a statement released by the committee.
“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,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the committee. “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.”
The panel is expected to launch a marathon series of public hearings at the start of next month, probing why rioters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
The committee issued the subpoenas because the June public hearings, during which witnesses are expected to testify, are approaching and committee members have already completed most of their interviews, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
“We’re very near the end of the investigative process, and there are some important voices that still have not been heard from,” the person said.
After the statement was released, McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol that he has “not seen the subpoena.” He did not answer a question on whether he would comply.
“It seems as though they just want to go after their political opponents,” said McCarthy, who is poised to become the next House speaker should Republicans retake the House in November.
Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., chair of the Republican Study Committee, called the subpoenas of other members of Congress “unprecedented” and said the Jan. 6 committee “should be subpoenaing [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi.”
Banks, who was kept off the committee by Pelosi, would not say whether House Republicans would subpoena Pelosi themselves if they control the House next year.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he “doesn’t understand” why the five Republican lawmakers aren’t cooperating with the investigation. He said he would have “no problem cooperating with a subpoena. I’ve got nothing to hide.”
On Twitter, Biggs called the investigation a “baseless witch hunt.”
“Today’s actions by the illegitimate January 6 Committee are pure political theater. The subpoenas and news of their issuance were leaked to the media before the impacted members,” Biggs said. He did not directly say whether he would comply with the subpoena.
The committee is set to hold eight public hearings, starting June 9. Thompson called the public witness list for the hearings “very fluid” and declined to say who they would call.
“We’re not through issuing subpoenas. There are a number of people we’re looking at, but this was the first of a tranche of subpoenas that we pushed out,” Thompson told reporters Thursday afternoon.
Thompson said the committee might subpoena other members of the House and Senate, but he wouldn’t say when or how many. He also declined to say whether they would seek contempt charges against the five House members if they failed to comply, as they have in other cases in which Trump officials and others have refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Many top Trump advisers, including his own children, have appeared for interviews with the committee recently. But others have refused to comply with congressional requests, leading to contempt charges from Congress. Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon is in the middle of a court case stemming from his refusal to appear before the panel. And the Department of Justice has not yet announced whether it will pursue a criminal case against former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows for only partially complying with a subpoena.
Time is running out fast for the committee, which is expected to be disbanded or overhauled completely in a hypothetical Republican-led House.
Asked about the latest round of subpoenas, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said they support the work of the committee.
“We’ll continue to support their work, we believe it’s vital and essential to get to the bottom of what happened on Jan. 6, one of the darkest days in our democracy,” Psaki said Thursday.