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McCarthy calls Jan. 6 committee request ‘abuse of power’

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to reporters during his weekly press conference at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. McCarthy is refusing a request by the House panel investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection to submit to an interview and turn over records pertaining to the deadly riot. McCarthy claims the investigation is not legitimate and accuses the panel of “abuse of power.” (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to reporters during his weekly press conference at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. McCarthy is refusing a request by the House panel investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection to submit to an interview and turn over records pertaining to the deadly riot. McCarthy claims the investigation is not legitimate and accuses the panel of “abuse of power.” (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)
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Republican leader Kevin McCarthy’s refusal to provide information to a bipartisan House committee about his call with then-President Donald Trump during the Capitol riot is deepening a standoff between the committee and GOP lawmakers, forcing investigators to consider whether they could subpoena one of their own.

McCarthy joined two other Trump allies, Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, in rejecting the panel’s requests for interviews and documents. McCarthy, R-Calif., decried the committee as an “abuse of power” and said he had little to offer.

There is “nothing that I can provide” to the committee, he said, as it investigates what Trump was doing inside the White House, and his state of mind, as hundreds of his supporters violently pushed past law enforcement in an insurrection that temporarily halted the congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s White House win.

The stand by the three GOP lawmakers has left the committee of seven Democrats and two Republicans with a stark choice: take the extraordinary step of subpoenaing their own colleagues or allow the requests, and the defiance of their work, to go unanswered.

The committee’s leaders, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., have said they are prepared to subpoena any witness crucial to the investigation. But privately, committee members are wrestling over the potential legal and political complications of such a move.

McCarthy has acknowledged the call with Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, which happened as Trump’s supporters were beating police outside the Capitol and forcing their way into the building. But McCarthy has not shared many details. The committee requested information about his conversations with Trump “before, during and after” the riot.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, McCarthy said the conversation with Trump “was very short, advising the president what was happening here.”

The committee’s request also seeks information about McCarthy’s communications with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and communications with Trump and White House staff in the week after the violence, including reports of a conversation that was “heated.”

The committee acknowledged the sensitive and unusual nature of its request as it proposed a meeting with McCarthy on either Feb. 3 or 4. “The Select Committee has tremendous respect for the prerogatives of Congress and the privacy of its Members,” Thompson wrote. “At the same time, we have a solemn responsibility to investigate fully the facts and circumstances of these events.”

Despite the resistance of some high-profile Trump allies, the Jan. 6 committee has interviewed almost 350 people as it seeks to create a comprehensive record of the attack and the events leading up to it.

On Wednesday, former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany spoke virtually to the committee, according to a person familiar with the interview who was not authorized to discuss it publicly. The committee subpoenaed McEnany in November.