Anonymous sources cited in a report published by ABC Wednesday have cast new doubt that the Jan. 6 committee will pursue enforcement of subpoenas it has issued to a handful of sitting Republican lawmakers with alleged ties to the Capitol attack.
Reports of a similar nature have circulated for months as investigators have continued taking deposition and records from over 500 witnesses, including high- and low-level aides and Trump White House staff, election officials, and many others.
According to ABC, GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy and Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania have had “no follow-up discussions” about their cooperation since receiving their respective subpoenas.
The decision to drop the pursuit of the Republican legislators' records and testimony has “not been formalized” and ABC said their “sources caution that the committee's plans could change,” but “the emerging consensus is to proceed without taking this step.”
A representative for the Jan. 6 committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment to Daily Kos on Wednesday.
Forcing compliance with sitting lawmakers is tricky for the panel both politically and legally. Committee Chair Bennie Thompson has said since late last year that if those lawmakers targeted do not come forward, he was uncertain what tools the probe might have in its chest to force their testimony.
Committee members have been outwardly devoted to pursuing the investigation regardless of the political toll it exacts—Liz Cheney was ousted from her leadership role in the GOP after joining the committee. But the fact remains that political retribution could be swift if Republicans take back the House and Senate in the coming elections.
Rep. Jim Jordan, for example, is among Trump’s most fierce lapdogs in Congress and has been spurned by the Jan. 6 committee already when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi rejected his nomination to the panel by McCarthy.
Jordan has made it clear since Trump’s first impeachment when he defended the former president unflaggingly that he would relish a chance to drag Biden White House officials through public hearings should the GOP retake Congress.
Jordan is a member of the powerful House Judiciary Committee and is also a member of a Jan. 6 shadow committee. That committee has no subpoena power, but it has been running a parallel investigation to the official probe for months, largely relying on U.S. Capitol Police testimony to support its contention that security and intelligence failures were solely to blame for the rioting.
Investigators allege Jordan spoke to Trump on Jan. 6. They have based this on Trump White House call logs received from the National Archives in February.
Jordan has flip-flopped on his account of the day, regularly buckling under scrutiny in interviews. But with or without his testimony, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has already given the probe text messages illuminating how Jordan was campaigning for then-Vice President Mike Pence to stop the certification.
Constitutionally, Pence did not have that authority.
As for Perry, the committee asked him to voluntarily comply in December. Thompson alleges that Perry was the engine behind a scheme to install a Trump-friendly lawyer Jeffrey Clark at the Department of Justice as the nation’s attorney general.
Politico reported on March 2 that committee investigators “have repeatedly asked witnesses to describe contacts with Perry.”
The panel has already conducted over 550 interviews. Frustrating it may be for watchers of the probe, the lack of participation by certain lawmakers does not preclude the reams of evidence and other materials the committee has already amassed.
Before eventually turning his back on the committee following extensive cooperation, Meadows turned over heaps of text messages and other correspondence, only some of which has been made public.
Meadows has since been held in contempt of Congress. It is up to the Justice Department to decide whether it will bring a criminal indictment for his obstruction.
The Meadows messages alone painted a frantic picture of the White House and Washington both before and after the attack.
The committee itself does not have the ability to indict anyone. It has taken pains to reiterate this as Republicans like Meadows, Jordan, and several others already subpoenaed actively claim the probe acts beyond the scope of its authority.
They argue the select committee moves as a law enforcement arm, not a legislative arm.
But the committee has underlined, time and again, it does not need to indict.
It needs only to amass information and investigate all of the different avenues in which the attempted overthrow of the 2020 election was undertaken.
If it finds criminality or evidence of criminality, it will be up to the Department of Justice to act next.