WASHINGTON – The congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot asked House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday for information about his communications with former President Donald Trump.
But McCarthy said he wouldn't cooperate with the committee, which he argued was just trying to hurt Democrats' political opponents.
“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 said.
The chairman of the committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said McCarthy told a news outlet in his California district that he had a “very heated conversation” with Trump on Jan. 6. Thompson also said McCarthy spoke with Trump on Jan. 11 about the potential for censure, impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment.
Thompson said McCarthy was reportedly communicating with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in the days before the attack and with Trump while the building was under siege.
Thompson said McCarthy explained to his former House colleague that efforts to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden that day were “doomed to fail.”
"We write to request your voluntary cooperation with our investigation on a range of critical topics, including your conversations with President Trump before, during and after the violent January 6th attack," Thompson said in a letter to McCarthy.
The committee asked for a meeting Feb. 3 or 4, or during the week of Feb. 7.
The letter to McCarthy marks the third request for voluntary cooperation from fellow House members as the committee files subpoenas to top Trump aides. The committee is investigating what led to the Jan. 6 attack and what happened that day.
McCarthy initially said Trump "bears responsibility" for the attack. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., has said McCarthy told lawmakers that Trump seemed unconcerned with the violence during the siege.
Since then, McCarthy has called the committee partisan and illegitimate since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., refused to appoint two of his nominees to the panel.
“Given the political misdirections that have marred this process, given the now duplicative and potentially counterproductive nature of this effort, and given the speaker’s shortsighted scope that does not examine interrelated forms of political violence in America, I cannot support this legislation," McCarthy said when the committee was created.
The committee is also seeking information from one of those nominees, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who communicated with Trump on Jan. 6 and refused to cooperate.
Meadows initially cooperated with the committee and then refused. He provided texts to the panel that revealed the White House knew about the extent of violence at the Capitol and that Trump allies including his son, Donald Trump Jr., implored the president to call off the mob. The House cited Meadows for contempt and the Justice Department is considering whether to charge him criminally.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jan. 6 panel asks Kevin McCarthy for information about Donald Trump