“As a representative and the leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded to not participate with this select committee’s abuse of power that stains this institution today and will harm it going forward," McCarthy asserted in a statement Wednesday night, just five hours after the committee made its request.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Democratic-controlled House riot panel penned a letter to the California Republican requesting that he voluntarily appear before the Committee. The Committee wished to go over topics with McCarthy, including his communications with former President Donald Trump on the day of the riot and for what reason he continued his objections to Electoral College results after the riot.
McCarthy's refusal to voluntarily work with the Committee, the third House Republican to deny such a request, raises the question of whether the panel will take the unprecedented step of issuing subpoenas targeting sitting lawmakers.
Asked if McCarthy could be subpoenaed if he refuses to appear voluntarily, Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson told reporters on Wednesday, “We’ll consider it.” He said the Committee’s interest was mainly in McCarthy's public statements, and to his knowledge, information on file with the Committee does not include text messages or bank records.
The refusal to appear before the Committee is somewhat of a reversal for the top House Republican. McCarthy insisted in May 2021 that he would testify to a Jan. 6 panel about his phone conversation with Trump on the day of the Capitol riot. At the time, however, Congress was considering a bipartisan, bicameral commission rather than a Democratic-controlled select Committee. McCarthy repeated an argument used by many Republicans — that the panel is not a legitimate Committee because there are no Republican-appointed members.
“This Committee is not conducting a legitimate investigation, as Speaker Pelosi took the unprecedented action of rejecting the Republican members I named to serve on the committee. It is not serving any legislative purpose," McCarthy stated. "The committee’s only objective is to attempt to damage its political opponents — acting like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee one day and the DOJ the next."
In a never-before-seen move, last year House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocked Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Indiana Rep. Jim Banks from sitting on the Committee. This prompted McCarthy to pull his other three appointments in protest unless all five were seated, leaving the Committee with only Democratic-appointed members. Two of those, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, are Republicans.
Banks and other Republicans, at the direction of McCarthy, are quietly conducting a counter investigation into Jan. 6 and plan to release a report.