The House panel investigating the US Capitol riots on Wednesday requested an interview and reports from House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy and moved their investigation to a top ally of former US President Donald Trump in Congress.
Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democratic chairman of the panel, requested that McCarthy provide information to the nine-member panel regarding the attack and his communications with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the days leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, when a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and tried to prevent Congress from ratifying the federal election results in favor of Joe Biden.
The request seeks information about McCarthy’s conversations with Trump “before, during and after” the riots, with lawmakers seeking a peek into Trump’s state of mind from an ally who has acknowledged repeated interactions with the then-president.
“We also need to learn how the president’s plans for January 6 came about and all the other ways he tried to change the outcome of the election,” Thompson said in the letter to McCarthy. “For example, before January 6, you would have explained to Mark Meadows and the former president that objections to the certification of the electoral votes on January 6 were ‘doomed to failure’.”
The committee also wants to question McCarthy about communications with Trump and White House staff in the week following the violence, including a conversation with Trump that was reportedly heated.
Recognizing the sensitive and unusual nature of her request, the committee proposed a meeting with McCarthy on February 3 or 4.
“The Select Committee has tremendous respect for Congressional prerogatives and the privacy of its members,” Thompson wrote. “At the same time, we have a solemn responsibility to fully investigate the facts and circumstances of these events.
A request for comment from McCarthy’s office was not immediately answered.
A closer look at McCarthy’s comments
McCarthy drew the committee’s attention through his public characterizations following the riot of his private talks with Trump.
Thompson’s letter cites multiple statements and interviews in which McCarthy described his interactions with the president, including a CBS interview in which McCarthy said, “I was very clear with the president when I called him. This has got to stop and he has to go to the American public and say that they should stop doing this.”
One of his Republican colleagues, Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, has said that McCarthy told her that Trump had told him, “Well, Kevin, I think these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
The Republican leader is the third congressman to approach the committee for voluntary information.
In recent weeks, GOP representatives Jim Jordan and Scott Perry were also contacted by the panel, but they have declined requests to meet with lawmakers or provide documents.
The panel, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, has already interviewed more than 300 people and issued more than 40 subpoenas to provide a comprehensive account of the January 6 attack and the events leading up to it.