The Congress group investigating last year’s attack on the US Capitol leaves open all enforcement options – including criminal contempt – for the cited GOP lawmakers who refuse to cooperate in the investigation.
The select has already detained two former Trump administration officials for criminal contempt – former councilor Stephen Bannon and former chief of staff Mark Meadows – for rejecting the commission’s official summons to testify to the jury.
A day after the committee issued similar summonses to five Republicans in session, including minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Top members of the commission of inquiry said those lawmakers would not enjoy special immunities just because I currently serve on Capitol Hill.
“Members of Congress are citizens of the United States, so they would be the same options that are generally available to us,” he said. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), A former professor of constitutional law, said on Friday when asked about the potential repercussions of non-compliance.
If there were any questions about whether criminal contempt was one of those options, Raskin quickly stopped them. In fact, he said, incumbent MPs could face even greater disciplinary action than other recalcitrant witnesses, given that members of the House are also subject to the rules of ethics of the House.
“We have all the options that would be available to us or someone like Steve Bannon or Mark Meadows,” he said, “and then additional options because they are members of Congress.”
Representative. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Chairman of the select committee, said he hoped Republicans would change their minds and cooperate in the investigation. But echoing Raskin, he said the panel did not rule out any enforcement tool if it refused.
“It simply came to our notice then. Obviously, we could make a reference to ethics, “said Thompson, referring to the House Ethics Committee. “We will discuss. But look, all we’re saying is that they’re members of Congress who have taken an oath. “
Thompson, with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), The vice chair of the select committee, announced the summons on Thursday, after weeks of internal negotiations on the wisdom of targeting so aggressive members of Congress. The move was an unprecedented step, one that marked an extraordinary escalation of the extensive investigation into the January Capitol attack. 6, 2021, when a violent mob stormed the building in a failed attempt to overthrow President Biden’s election victory.
The citations concern five GOP MPs: Reps. McCarthy, Jim Jordan (Ohio), Scott Perry (Pa.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.) And Mo Brooks (Ala.). All are close allies of former President Trump who have promoted the lie that Trump won the 2020 election. All also have unique perspectives on the former White House’s effort to counter congressional certification of Biden’s victory. And they all refused to cooperate in the investigation voluntarily.
“There are some things we’ve learned that either need clarification from them or we have left … what our investigation has shown us,” Thompson said. “They are an integral part of that investigation, as far as I’m concerned.”
Republicans defended their refusal to participate, saying the investigation was just a political exercise, invented by President Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) And meant to damage Trump and the GOP in general.
“The border is in crisis, inflation is skyrocketing, crime is spreading, and Democrats are focused on inventing their own facts to bring down Republican leaders,” Biggs said after announcing the summons.
However, despite rhetorical defiance, none of the five Republicans said they would refuse to comply with the citation. Some GOP lawmakers said they simply did not see him – an argument disputed by Thompson, who said he had signed each one.
“I understand they were served,” Thompson said.
McCarthy declined to comment Friday.
Except for the events of January. 6, the new citations sparked a heated debate over the broader implications of using congressional citations to target parliamentarians in sitting.
Republicans warn that it will set a dangerous precedent, paving the way for a wave of citations from the majority party against the minority in the coming years. Democrats said the real danger would be that the lawmakers quoted would ignore the law and defy it.
“The basic principle of our rule of law is that everyone owes their true testimony to the government when a crime was committed, or you know, when they are summoned,” Raskin said. “It’s not a complicated proposal.”
Thompson sent a similar message, adding a warning to Republicans hoping to retaliate next year with their own citations if they control the House after the midterm elections.
“It simply came to our notice then. If Republicans choose not to do so and then take control of the House, then obviously they don’t have many legs to stand on, “he said.
The commission plans to hold eight public hearings next month, with the first scheduled for June 9, although Thompson has allowed further hearings “if the committee deems it necessary”.
Mychael Schnell and Emily Brooks contributed to the reporting.