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House committee probing Capitol riot wants to hear from Kevin McCarthy

This is a sign that the investigation is increasingly touching some of the most powerful figures in the Republican Party. ...

Kevin McCarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

  • House lawmakers want to know what President Donald Trump told Kevin McCarthy.
  • The committee investigating the Capitol riot has now asked for McCarthy's cooperation.
  • This is a sign that the probe is increasingly touching some of the GOP's most powerful figures.

The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 riot on Wednesday asked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for his voluntary cooperation, a sign that the probe is increasingly touching some of the most powerful figures in the Republican Party.

"You have acknowledged speaking directly with the former President while the violence was underway on January 6th. And you summarized your conclusions regarding President Trump's conduct on January 6th in a speech you made January 13th on the House floor," the committee wrote in a letter to McCarthy.

McCarthy said on the House floor just days after the riot that Trump bore "responsibility" for the attack on the Capitol. He also briefly suggested that Trump should be censured for his actions before Democrats moved to impeach the president for a second time. 

It's not entirely clear what Trump told McCarthy as rioters were ransacking the Capitol. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, cited what McCarthy told her about the call in her decision to vote to impeach the president. CNN reported that Trump told McCarthy: "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are."

McCarthy previously told reporters that he would cooperate with a then-proposed bipartisan, independent panel. His opposition to a 9/11-style commission investigating the insurrection failed to stop its passage in the House, but Senate Republicans later blocked it from becoming law.

In the year since January 6, McCarthy has criticized Democrats for focusing too much on the attack. He has also defended his efforts to overturn election results in Pennsylvania and Arizona, arguing to The New York Times that not certifying results from either state wouldn't have changed President Joe Biden's victory. In the same story, The Times reported that McCarthy's allies say his support of Trump is rooted in the belief that the GOP needs the former president to help retake the House and thus to fulfill McCarthy's long-held ambition to become speaker.

McCarthy has also undermined efforts to investigate the insurrection. 

The California Republican reportedly asked Rep. John Katko of New York to negotiate on his behalf for a bipartisan commission modeled after the widely-praised panel that investigated the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. But McCarthy later came out against such a commission, citing its "limited scope" as some Republicans pushed for unrest during summer 2020 to be included alongside any investigation of the insurrection. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi then moved to create a House select committee after the Senate failed to pass the bill. McCarthy later named a slate of Republican lawmakers to the panel, but Pelosi took the unprecedented step of rejecting two of his selections due to the lawmakers' support of efforts to reject the certification of state election results. 

McCarthy then withdrew his entire slate from the panel. He has since threatened telecommunications companies if they comply with the House select committee's subpoenas. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, another Republican the panel wants to hear from, has said he will not cooperate with their request. It is unclear whether House lawmakers have the legal authority to subpoena their colleagues in order to compel their cooperation.

McCarthy's office did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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