The Jan. 6 select committee sent a letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday seeking his cooperation with its investigation, but the California Republican quickly denied its request.
The letter says the panel wants to discuss McCarthy’s “conversations with President Trump before, during and after the violent January 6th attack.”
The bulk of the letter lays out the many statements McCarthy made in which he clearly said then-President Donald Trump had incited the violent mob that laid siege to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and asks whether he changed his stance on this because Trump told him to.
The committee’s letter also quotes McCarthy warning one week after Jan. 6 that Trump’s claims about a stolen election in 2020 — which have no basis in fact — were “raising the ability for greater violence.”
“The Select Committee is concerned about the potential for continued violence after January 6th provoked by President Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen,” the letter states.
Three weeks after the insurrection, McCarthy traveled to Florida to meet with Trump, and since then he has downplayed the former president’s role in what happened.
“Your public statements regarding January 6th have changed markedly since you met with Trump. At that meeting, or at any other time, did President Trump or his representatives discuss or suggest what you should say publicly?” the committee’s letter asks.
McCarthy reportedly spoke by phone with Trump during the attack on the Capitol, urging him to tell his supporters to go home. A few days later, in a separate phone call, Trump claimed that those who had assaulted police and stormed the Capitol were left-wing protesters. McCarthy forcefully rejected this and told Trump they were his supporters.
“They were in my office. They left zip ties,” McCarthy told a California newspaper. “I saw them as they broke my window.
“The president said there was some Antifa there. I said, ‘No, the people arrested, they’re MAGA,’” McCarthy said, referring to the “Make America great again” slogan that many Trump supporters use.
On Jan. 13, McCarthy said on the House floor: “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
McCarthy called on Trump to “accept his share of responsibility” and said the insurrection was “not the American way.”
“Neither is the continued rhetoric that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president,” he said, adding that Biden “won the election.”
But McCarthy changed his tune just a week later, saying, “I don't believe [Trump] provoked it if you listen to what he said at the rally.”
In a statement released Wednesday night, McCarthy called the committee “illegitimate” and said he had “nothing else to add” to his previous statements about Jan. 6.
“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,” he said.