WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Wednesday said he would not provide information to the Jan. 6 committee about communications surrounding the attack on the Capitol, despite previously saying he would be willing to discuss a phone conversation he had with former President Donald Trump as the riot unfolded.
“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.
His statement came just hours after Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., proposed an early February meeting with McCarthy.
Thompson, in a letter to McCarthy, said the panel wanted to hear about discussions the House GOP leader may have had with Trump and White House staffers in the days surrounding the riot.
McCarthy told Fox News in April that he had a phone conversation with Trump as the attack unfolded. A month later, asked by reporters whether he would be willing to testify to an outside committee about his Jan. 6 conversation with Trump, McCarthy responded, “Sure.”
In Wednesday’s letter, Thompson said McCarthy may have information about Trump’s state of mind and decisions in the aftermath of the riot.
“It appears that you may also have discussed with President Trump the potential he would face a censure resolution, impeachment, or removal under the 25th Amendment,” Thompson wrote. “It also appears that you may have identified other possible options, including President Trump’s immediate resignation from office.”
Trump was impeached for “incitement of insurrection” in a 232-197 vote, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats. He was acquitted in a 57-43 vote in the Senate, with seven GOP senators voting in favor of conviction.
The Jan. 6 committee has requested information from two other lawmakers — Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania — but McCarthy is the highest-ranking Republican in Congress sought out by the panel.
Thompson, speaking with reporters Wednesday afternoon, did not rule out a possible subpoena for McCarthy.
“I think it’s important that when the leader of the House of Representatives takes to the floor and criticizes the sitting president for what went on, that’s significant, and that’s why we voluntarily asked him to come and talk to the committee,” Thompson said.
McCarthy said in a House floor speech days after Jan. 6 that Trump “bears responsibility” for the “attack on Congress by mob rioters.”
Asked Wednesday night about McCarthy’s refusal to comply with the committee’s request, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the vice chair of the panel, told reporters that members of the committee would “evaluate our options, but we will get to the truth.”
“I wish that he were a brave and honorable man,” Cheney added. “He’s clearly trying to cover up what happened. He has an obligation to come forward and we’ll get to the truth.”
Earlier on Wednesday, panel members met with former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
McEnany, who was subpoenaed in November, met virtually with the committee, according to a source familiar with the meeting. Her deposition was originally scheduled for Dec. 3 but had been postponed. It was not immediately clear what McEnany discussed with the committee.
CNN first reported the meeting.
The committee signaled its area of interest with McEnany in a November letter to the former press secretary. The panel said at the time that its investigation and public accounts have “revealed credible evidence of your involvement in the events within the scope of the Select Committee’s inquiry.”
The letter pointed to public statements by McEnany while she was White House press secretary, citing a news conference after the 2020 election.
“You claimed that there were ‘very real claims’ of fraud that the former president’s re-election campaign was pursuing, and said that mail-in voting was one that ‘we have identified as being particularly prone to fraud,'” the committee wrote.
Haley Talbot, Haley Talbot and Kyle Stewart contributed.