The House panel investigating the US Capitol insurgency on Wednesday requested an interview and reports from House minority group leader Kevin McCarthy seeking firsthand details from members of Congress on former US President Donald Trump’s actions when hundreds of his supporters brutally beat police. stormed the building and interrupted certification of the 2020 election.
Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the panel’s Democratic chairman, asked McCarthy to provide information to the nine-member panel about his conversations with Trump “before, during, and after” the riots. The request also asks for information about McCarthy’s communications with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in the days before the attack.
“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’.”
But it remains unclear whether the panel will be able to obtain testimony from McCarthy or other Trump congressional allies. While the committee has considered issuing subpoenas to fellow lawmakers, doing so would be an extraordinary move and could lead to legal and political challenges.
Lawmakers seek a peek into Trump’s frame of mind from an ally who has acknowledged repeated interactions with the then-president. 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.
Democrats are seeking more information about McCarthy’s phone call with Trump that day since the former president’s second impeachment trial in the days following the riots.
At one point in the trial, Democrats said they would try to call Jaime Herrera Beutler as a witness, as she described the conversation between the two men after hearing a report from McCarthy. Finally, the Democrats read a statement from Herrera Beutler, a Republican, in the report. Trump, who had just stepped down from office, was acquitted by the Senate.
Herrera Beutler’s statement said that McCarthy had told her that he had asked Trump to publicly “call off the riots” and that he had said the violent mob was made up of Trump supporters, not far-left antifa members.
She said in the statement: “Then, according to McCarthy, the president said, “Well, Kevin, I think these people are more upset about the election than you are.”