The Jan. 6 select committee has requested House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s testimony about his interactions with Donald Trump as a mob swarmed the Capitol.
In a letter to the GOP leader on Wednesday, select panel chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said the panel wants to know about the details of Trump’s phone call with McCarthy on Jan. 6, 2021 — one the California Republican himself once described as “heated.” According to some accounts of that call, Trump initially downplayed the notion that his supporters were responsible for breaching the Capitol.
As Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) has recalled, when McCarthy asserted to the then-president that it was Trump’s supporters who attacked the building, Trump replied: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” Herrera Beutler publicly shared her account of the call, based on a conversation with McCarthy, ahead of Trump’s second impeachment last year.
It’s unclear if McCarthy will comply with the request, but it is not likely given his months-long criticism of the Democratic-run select panel as a politically motivated attempt to undercut the GOP. Asked whether the panel would subpoena him to ensure his compliance, Thompson told reporters, “We will consider it.”
McCarthy is the third GOP lawmaker the panel has asked to testify. The others, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.), have rejected the committee’s entreaties. Both men were key allies in Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election results.
McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Thompson said he was not aware of any of McCarthy’s phone or banking records that were in the committee’s possession. McCarthy had been included in an earlier select committee request for phone records, as POLITICO had previously reported.
McCarthy, who helped scuttle a deal to establish a bipartisan commission to investigation the insurrection, has spent months thrashing the Jan. 6 committee. Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy’s initial picks to sit on the panel — Jordan and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) — leading the California Republican to withdraw his remaining appointees and boycott the committee altogether.
McCarthy also threatened telecommunications companies with retribution if they cooperated with the Jan. 6 committee’s request for lawmakers’ phone records, saying a GOP majority next year “will not forget” their decisions.
The panel proposed a Feb. 3 or Feb. 4 meeting, or a time the week after.