What the Jan. 6 panel wants to learn from 5 GOP lawmakers

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WASHINGTON — In deciding to take the highly unusual step of issuing subpoenas to five Republican congressmen, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack concluded that trying to coerce their testimony was important enough was to justify an escalating move involving her peers.

All five Republicans summoned Thursday had previously declined to appear before the committee voluntarily. The most prominent of these, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, is his party’s leader in the House of Representatives and is set to become speaker when Republicans gain control of the chamber in November. He has been seeking legal advice on how to counter a subpoena in recent months, although he will not yet say how he will respond to the panel’s actions.

But the committee has made clear it believes all five may have information important to its efforts to document efforts by President Donald J. Trump and his allies to determine the results of the 2020 election involved in the attack culminating on the Capitol to overturn January 6, 2021, by a pro-Trump mob.

Here are the issues the committee of each of the five Republicans might be interested in.

The committee is seeking to question Mr McCarthy about conversations he had with Mr Trump during and after the attack about his culpability for the attack and what should be done to address it. The committee has also suggested that Mr. Trump, whose political support for Mr. McCarthy is vital, may have influenced the congressman’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation.

Mr McCarthy has admitted getting into a heated argument with Mr Trump during the attack on the Capitol, in which the President appeared to side with the rioters as they sped through the grounds.

According to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Washington Republican, who has said Mr. McCarthy told her about the exchange, Mr. Trump ignored Mr. McCarthy’s requests that the rioters withdraw and instead sided with her, saying: ” Well Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

Interest in the details of those talks has only increased amid leaked audio in which Mr McCarthy told colleagues that Mr Trump had expressed feeling partly responsible for the attack.

Audio obtained by the New York Times and released in April showed Mr McCarthy recounting an exchange with the former president in which he claimed Mr Trump had been relatively contrite over how his election-related language contributed to the uprising could have .

“Does he feel bad about what happened? He told me he had some responsibility for what happened and he needed to acknowledge that,” Mr McCarthy said in the recording.

Earlier, Mr McCarthy had told colleagues that he would urge Mr Trump to resign.

The committee first publicly addressed Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry in December with a letter requesting information. This was the panel’s first formal attempt to interview a sitting member of Congress.

Committee members have argued that Mr Perry, who heads the deeply conservative House Freedom Caucus, was one of the main architects behind a plan to install Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, as acting attorney general after sympathizing with Mr Trump over false claims widespread voter fraud.

Mr. Clark appeared eager to investigate various conspiracy theories about hacked voting booths and other forms of voter fraud and to pressure state election officials to overturn the Georgia results.

Committee members and investigators have said that Mr. Perry introduced Mr. Clark and the former President. They also found evidence that Mr Perry was in frequent contact with Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, through encrypted messaging services in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6.

After the election, Mr Perry helped put together a dossier of alleged voter fraud and also encouraged Mr Trump’s supporters to join the march on the Capitol that led to the riots.

Mr. Perry, a former Army helicopter pilot who is close to Mr. Meadows, and another Republican now under subpoena, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, coordinated many of the efforts to keep Mr. Trump in office. His colleagues referred to him as General Perry; He retired from the Pennsylvania National Guard in 2019.

Committee members have expressed an interest in testimony from Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks after he broke with Mr Trump and accused the former president of pushing him to find a way to remove President Biden from power.

While Mr. Brooks was initially among Mr. Trump’s staunchest allies in challenging the election result, their relationship soured after the former president withdrew his endorsement of Mr. Brooks in the Republican primary for the Alabama Senate seat in March.

Previously, Mr Brooks had struggled with false claims that the 2020 election was rigged. He had been one of the speakers alongside Mr. Trump at the rally in Washington leading up to the uprising.

But after the former president withdrew his endorsement, Mr Brooks spoke up with startling claims that Mr Trump had repeatedly urged him to find a way to void the election and somehow remove Mr Biden. If the claims are true, they would show that Mr. Trump has continued his efforts to overturn the outcome long after he left office. Mr Trump has not disputed the remarks.

“President Trump has asked me to roll back the 2020 election, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, bring President Trump back into the White House immediately, and hold a new special election for the presidency,” Mr Brooks said in a statement in March .

His account of the talks was the first time a lawmaker close to Mr Trump had suggested the former president had encouraged moves that, if taken, would have violated federal law.

In a letter to Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs in May, the committee’s leaders described evidence linking the congressman to a range of organizational efforts, including “planning meetings” aimed at luring protesters to Washington on Jan. 6 .

The letter also detailed a plan by several House Republicans to seek a presidential pardon for “activities related to President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.”

“Your name has been identified as a potential participant in this effort,” it said.

It is unclear whether Mr. Biggs or other House Republicans formally approached Mr. Trump to discuss what a preventive pardon would mean, or what crime that pardon would have been for. Mr Biggs this week declined to answer questions about possible pardons.

As a former leader of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, Mr. Biggs also tried to persuade state lawmakers to join Mr. Trump’s push to overthrow the election.

As one of Mr. Trump’s fiercest defenders in Congress, Mr. Jordan stood by him through several ordeals during his presidency, including serving as his lead defense attorney during Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial.

In the weeks following the election, Mr Jordan met regularly with White House advisers to coordinate messaging on the result, which often led to false allegations of fraud at media appearances.

Members and investigators of the House panel have aggressively pushed for details of conversations between Mr Jordan and Mr Trump on the day of the riot after call recordings indicated the two had spoken on the phone that morning.

Mr. Jordan has been heavily involved in Mr. Trump’s efforts to fight the election results, including attending planning meetings in November 2020 at the Trump campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, and a meeting at the White House in December 2020.

On January 5, 2021, Mr. Jordan forwarded to Mr. Meadows a text message he received from an attorney and former Pentagon Inspector General outlining a legal strategy to overturn the election.

“On January 6, 2021, as President of the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, was to call any votes he deems unconstitutional as no votes at all – in accordance with the directions of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and court precedent,” the text read.

Mr Jordan has admitted to speaking to Mr. Trump on January 6, although he has said he cannot remember how many times they spoke that day or when the calls took place. One of Mr Jordan’s conversations with Mr Trump that day, a 10-minute phone call, was included in the official White House call log.

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