The House recalls its dangerous new rules after the January 6 attack

Washington (AFP) – The remarkable decision of the January 6 committee to subpoena House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other congressional Republicans over Mutiny in the Capitol It is as rare as the deadly riots themselves, deepening the acrimony and distrust among lawmakers and raising questions about what happens next.

The echoes of the outcome will surely go beyond an immediate investigation into Donald Trump’s baseless efforts to annul Joe Biden’s presidential election victory. Angry Republicans vowed to use the same tools, arming Congress summon powers If they seize control of the House of Representatives in November midterm elections To go after Democrats, even at the highest levels in Congress.

“It sets a very dangerous and dangerous precedent,” said Representative Peter Major of Michigan, who was among a handful of Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the insurgency.

on Friday, and Subpoenas were issued to McCarthy and four other Republican lawmakers As the commission investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol is concluding its initial phase. Public hearings are expected to begin in June, and the committee is still deciding whether to call Republican senators to testify.

While the recall of McCarthy and other Republican lawmakers was entirely unexpected, it raised concerns about new norm-setting in Congress.

McCarthy, In line to become Speaker, bypassed former reporters on Friday, refusing to say whether he would comply with the committee’s summons to testify. When asked repeatedly for comment, McCarthy was a mom.

Other Republicans — Andy Bigs of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania — denounced the investigation as illegal, and it is not clear whether any of them will comply. The four held talks with the Trump White House about the election challenge, and McCarthy tried unsuccessfully to persuade Trump to call off the Capitol siege that day as rioters smashed windows near his office.

“They have a duty to testify,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

“I mean, we’re investigating a rebellion against the United States government,” Nadler said. “Rebellion. Betrayal.”

Next steps are highly uncertain, as the House of Representatives, with a Democratic majority in it, considers whether to take the dangerous, if unlikely, action of contemptuous congressional colleagues by voting to send a criminal referral to the Justice Department for trial.

While other lawmakers have voluntarily come forward to speak to the committee, any move to compel summoned members to share information is sure to become entangled in broader constitutional questions — among them, whether the executive branch should interfere with the running of the legislature a branch that tends to set its rules. own. The work will continue for months or more.

Alternatively, the House could take other actions, including a vote to publicly censure McCarthy and four GOP representatives, referral to the ethics committee, or impose fines or even strip their committees of their duties.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi He refused to answer any questions Friday.

“I don’t talk about what happens on the January 6 committee,” she said in the halls, appending to the committee as she usually does.

Rep. Benny Thompson, D-Mays, who chairs the bipartisan Jan. 6 committee, said he has options after five GOP lawmakers rejected her request for voluntary interviews and now face a subpoena.

“Look, all we’re saying is, these are members of Congress who have taken the oath,” he said. “Our investigation indicated that the 6th of January had already occurred, and that what people saw with their own eyes had already occurred.”

It’s a turbulent time for Congress, as intense political toxicity has settled into the new normal since the Capitol Rebellion left five dead. This included Trump supporters shot by police and a police officer who later died after fighting a mob.

The Capitol is slowly reopening to tourists this spring after being closed due to security concerns and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, but the concern remains. Tensions are running high, and at least one lawmaker on the committee, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo, who is a vocal critic of Trump, is surrounded by security guards daily, in a shocking reference to how America has changed.

Trump’s influence on the Republican Party remains strong, leaving many Republican lawmakers unwilling to publicly accept Biden’s electoral victory, and some making false allegations about the rigged 2020 election. Courts across the country have dismissed allegations of election fraud.

If Republicans win power this fall, they will almost certainly launch investigations into Biden on Jan. 6 and other topics, now armed with the tool of subpoenas for fellow lawmakers.

“It’s a race to the bottom, that’s what it is,” said Representative Thomas Massey, a Republican from Kentucky, who won Trump’s endorsement last week for re-election, despite having fallen out with him in the past.

“I mean, I hope when we take over, we don’t do the same things they do,” he said. “But you know, transformation is fair play.”

While Democratic leaders say they would happily testify if they were called up by newly empowered Republicans next year, more and more mainstream lawmakers are privately expressing unease about what comes next, worried about being drawn into the fray.

Congress issuing a subpoena for one like this is rare, but it’s not the first.

Ethics committees have summoned individual lawmakers about possible wrongdoing. That includes the Senate’s vote in 1993 to subpoena Senator Bob Packwood, Oregon, while investigating allegations of sexual harassment. In the face of expulsion, he resigned first.

But congressional subpoenas are usually directed abroad. Soon after the country was founded, the first congressional subpoenas were issued not to a lawmaker but to a real estate speculator who attempted to purchase what is now Michigan and attempted to bribe members of Congress, according to the House history website.

The January 6 commission had privately wrestled for weeks over whether to summon fellow lawmakers, to understand the severity of the action it would take.

Once the committee members made their decision to issue subpoenas, Pelosi was informed of their decision.

Representative Jimmy Raskin, a member of the Democratic Committee, suggested that the decision was justified on the basis of the seriousness of the January 6 attack.

“People have wondered, ‘Does this set a precedent for future subpoenas of Congress? “If there are coups and rebellions, I suppose it will,” Raskin said.