House panel probing Capitol riot seeks interview with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

The House of Representatives panel investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection requested an interview and records from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday.

Also looking for information about communications with Trump, chief of staff

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is shown last month at the U.S. Capitol. The panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot requested Wednesday that McCarthy provide information about his communications with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

The House panel investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection requested an interview and records from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday, seeking first-hand details from members of Congress on former U.S. president Donald Trump's actions on the day hundreds of his supporters brutally beat police, stormed the building and interrupted the certification of the 2020 election.

Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the panel's Democratic chair, requested that McCarthy provide information to the nine-member panel regarding his conversations with Trump "before, during and after" the riot. The request also seeks information about McCarthy's communications with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in the days before the attack.

"We also must learn about how the President's plans for January 6th came together, and all the other ways he attempted to alter the results of the election," Thompson said in the letter to McCarthy.

"For example, in advance of January 6th, you reportedly explained to Mark Meadows and the former President that objections to the certification of the electoral votes on January 6th 'was doomed to fail.'"

McCarthy says he won't co-operate

Hours after the committee's request, McCarthy issued a statement saying he would refuse to co-operate. He said the investigation was not legitimate and was an "abuse of power."

Without his co-operation, it remains unclear whether the panel will be able to gain testimony from McCarthy or any other congressional allies of Trump. While the committee has considered issuing subpoenas to fellow lawmakers, that would be an extraordinary move and could run up against legal and political challenges.

Lawmakers are seeking a window into Trump's state of mind from an ally who has acknowledged repeated interactions with the then-president.

The committee also wants to question McCarthy about communications with Trump and White House staff in the week after the violence, including a conversation with Trump that was reportedly 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."

Call with Trump

Democrats have been seeking more information about McCarthy's call with Trump that day since the former president's second impeachment trial in the days after the riot.

At one point in the trial, Democrats said they would try to call Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler as a witness because she had described a potentially pivotal call between the two men after hearing an account from McCarthy.

Herrera Beutler's statement said McCarthy told her he had asked Trump to publicly "call off the riot" and had said the violent mob was made up of Trump supporters, not far-left antifa members.

She said in the statement, "That's when, according to McCarthy, the president said, 'Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.'"

In the end, Democrats read a statement from Herrera Beutler into the record. Trump, who had just left office, was acquitted by the U.S. Senate.