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House Jan. 6 committee subpoenas McCarthy and other Republicans

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed five House Republicans, including the Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy. This does not happen often.

NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales is covering the story.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: In addition to McCarthy, there's Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Mo Brooks of Alabama. After the committee asked them to appear voluntarily, they all quickly refused. So now the committee wants to compel this testimony by month's end.

As for McCarthy, the panel wants to talk to him about what he was saying privately about former President Trump right after the attack. And we're somewhat familiar with some of those conversations, thanks to a wave of recent leaks of tapes where we hear McCarthy saying Trump took responsibility for the siege and perhaps could be removed from office.

They also want to talk to these other congressmen about their roles in the efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. For example, Mo Brooks has now broken with Trump and talked about the pressure he even recently faced to try and put him back in office.

INSKEEP: This is all very compelling, but are there pitfalls to House members subpoenaing other House members?

GRISALES: Yes. Members of Congress usually testify voluntarily. And while they have been subpoenaed, for example, in House Ethics Committee investigations, this is in no way common. Republicans have warned that if they take control of the House next year, as is projected, they'll issue subpoenas to investigate Democrats.

But committee member and Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin says that's not a worry. He told reporters the stakes are much higher than any new, awkward dynamics with these members of the GOP.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAMIE RASKIN: Nothing's more awkward than a violent insurrection where people died. So we're trying to extricate ourselves from the politics of violence, insurrection and coups. And the way to get out of it is through the truth.

GRISALES: Raskin went on to say that if they have relevant information, they have, quote, "every legal and moral reason" to participate in the probe. But it does get into tricky legal territory if these members don't cooperate. The panel has referred criminal contempt charges when subpoenas are defied, but it's not clear the panel will do that in this case against their Republican colleagues.

INSKEEP: How are Republicans responding?

GRISALES: McCarthy and others reiterated their position that this panel is not conducting a legitimate investigation and attacked them for sharing the news about the subpoena with the media first. But none of them would say if they would comply.

The committee's top-ranking Republican, Liz Cheney, who was ousted from leadership by McCarthy and others for defying Trump, said these subpoenaed members have an obligation to share critical information.

LIZ CHENEY: It's a reflection of how important and serious the investigation is and how grave the attack on the Capitol was.

GRISALES: These subpoenas arrive in what appears to be the final chapter for this panel. They've interviewed a total of a thousand witnesses. They have more than 100,000 documents. So they expect to hold public hearings to present their findings next month and issue their final report later this year.

INSKEEP: June is going to be interesting.

NPR's Claudia Grisales, thanks so much.

GRISALES: Thank you much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.