(CNN)House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has asserted he’d “have no problem talking to anybody” about his conversations with then-President Donald Trump on January 6. That proposition may soon be put to the test.
McCarthy is just one of several Republicans who could get caught in the crosshairs as the Democratic-led investigation into the Capitol riot unfolds over the coming months, teeing up the possibility of partisan showdowns and raising questions about a conflict-of-interest if any potential witnesses are tapped for one of the five GOP spots on the select committee.
Yet, Republicans too have their own emerging plan once McCarthy names his picks: They want to focus on the steps that Speaker Nancy Pelosi took — or didn’t take — to secure the Capitol that day, according to GOP sources familiar with the early discussions.
The panel of lawmakers probing the deadly attack, eight of whom were tapped by Pelosi this week, is on a mission to dig up answers about the January 6 siege and will begin with testimony from US Capitol Police officers about their experiences that day. Democrats on the committee say they plan to pursue why there were a string of law enforcement and intelligence failures — in addition to the root causes of the insurrection.
And that means Republican lawmakers who sought to overturn the election results on January 6 and were in frequent communication with the former President and his team — and potentially even Trump himself — could be hearing from the Democratic-led panel in the weeks ahead.
“I think we need to have access to all the available information,” Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chairman of the select committee, told CNN when asked if he would call in GOP lawmakers. “And part of what we plan to do is hire some of the best people, who can help us get access to that kind of information. So, if we need to get it by request or by subpoena, I’m not reluctant to do either.”
Besides Trump and McCarthy, Democrats may also want to hear from Republicans like Rep. Jim Jordan, a staunch Trump ally who was in regular discussions with then-President in the run-up to January 6; Rep. Greg Pence of Indiana, who huddled with his brother, then-Vice President Mike Pence, in a safe room while rioters breached the building; Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, who gave a fiery speech at the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6; and Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who was contacted by Trump as the riot unfolded and after Pence had been taken to a secure location.
Democrats have also questioned whether freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert, Republican of Colorado, coordinated with any of the rioters based on some of her tweets from that day — a charge she has vehemently denied. Her office said it’s too early to speculate about whether she’d cooperate with investigators, given the panel hasn’t even organized yet.
But Democrats have their own political risks to consider. With Republicans promising to paint Democrats as partisan at every turn, investigators may be reluctant to appear overzealous in hauling in GOP lawmakers as witnesses or take any other steps that could be perceived as attempts to bludgeon members of the opposite party. McCarthy himself came under fire in 2015 for suggesting that a select committee on Benghazi hurt Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, in the polls.
Republicans warn that calling in GOP lawmakers could spark a tit-for-tat that would lead to calls for Pelosi’s testimony.
“The minute you
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