WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol is redoubling its efforts to have GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy appear for an interview amid new revelations concerning his private conversations about the deadly attack, the chairman said Tuesday.
Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the panel expects to decide this week about issuing a second request to McCarthy, who has declined to voluntarily appear before the panel. The committee is also looking at summoning a widening group of House Republicans for interviews, Thompson said, as more information emerges about their conversations with the Trump White House in the run-up to the Capitol siege.
The committee is racing to wrap up this phase of its work amid newly released audio recordings of McCarthy's private remarks after the Jan. 6 attack, when supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol trying to stop the certification of Joe Biden's election victory.
In a Jan. 10, 2021, audio recording released Tuesday by The New York Times, McCarthy tells fellow Republican leaders that Trump's far-right allies in the House are “putting people in jeopardy” with their public tweets and comments that could put other lawmakers at risk of violence.
Earlier, the Times reported that McCarthy, in conversations with House Republicans, had blamed Trump for the attack. The audio recordings released by the Times are part of reporting for a forthcoming book, “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future.”
Thompson said the committee met most of Tuesday deciding next steps on McCarthy and other House members.
“We will probably look at engaging some of the lawmakers by invitation at this point, and we’ll go from there,” Thompson said at the Capitol.
The panel had previously sought interviews from McCarthy and Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, two Trump allies central to the effort to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election that Trump lost to Biden.
All three have declined to voluntarily appear, but the committee has stopped short of taking the more dramatic step of issuing subpoenas to the sitting members of Congress to compel their testimony.
Thompson noted that the earlier invitation to McCarthy was sent "before this latest revelation that was reported on tape.” He told reporters that “in all probability” McCarthy would get another invitation.
At the same time, the panel is broadening its outreach to a potentially much wider group of Republican lawmakers who are now known to have played a more substantial role than previously understood ahead of the riot and as it unfolded.
'We’ll make a decision on any others before the week is out,” Thompson said.
Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, a Trump ally who was with a group of lawmakers who met in December 2020 at the White House, has suggested he would appear before the panel. Brooks also spoke at Trump's Jan. 6 rally before the mob descended on the Capitol.
Additionally, the panel is now eyeing other House Republican lawmakers reported to have been working closely with Mark Meadows, Trump's former White House chief of staff, as they sought to challenge Biden's win.
A handful of lawmakers' names were included in testimony released late Friday as part of a court filing as the committee seeks access to Meadows' text messages.
"We will probably look at engaging some of the lawmakers by invitation at this point, and we’ll go from there," Thompson said Tuesday.
The panel is working swiftly to launch public hearings, which it hopes to both start and conclude by June, before issuing an initial report of its findings in fall.