Jan. 6 committee not planning to subpoena members of Congress, sources say

Investigators say efforts regarding subpoenas could run into time constraints.

March 15, 2022, 7:37 PM

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is not planning to issue subpoenas to members of Congress who are alleged to have information regarding the events leading up to and surrounding the attack, sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.

While the panel had requested information from Republicans including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Reps. Scott Perry and Jim Jordan -- all of whom swiftly rejected the requests -- there have been no follow-up discussions with them about their cooperation, according to sources familiar with the panel's work.

For a committee that's been aggressive in its investigative efforts, moving ahead without compelling lawmakers to cooperate through a subpoena reflects a self-imposed limitation as committee members work to balance the legal, political and practical considerations.

In some cases, investigators don't believe subpoenas are necessary, given information they have already obtained through other means, like witness testimony and evidence provided by other third parties, according to sources.

While such a move has not been formalized and sources caution that the committee's plans could change, the emerging consensus is to proceed without taking this step.

Investigators have privately acknowledged that any efforts to try to enforce subpoenas would run into time constraints should Republicans take control of the House following the November midterm elections. Any potential subpoena to a lawmaker would likely face a complex and lengthy legal battle.

PHOTO: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy holds his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy holds his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

"The Select Committee is determined to get all relevant information and all options remain on the table," a spokesperson for the committee told ABC News. "The committee's investigation is uncovering new facts every day and we want to hear from all witnesses."

The committee's chairperson, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the committee was studying whether it had the ability to issue subpoenas to their colleagues. Thompson told ABC News in December that he wasn't sure if they would be able to force members to cooperate.

"If we subpoena them and they choose not to come, I'm not aware of a real vehicle that we can force compliance," Thompson said.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a member of the committee, said on ABC News' "This Week" in December that he "absolutely" thinks his colleagues should be subpoenaed to testify before the committee if necessary.

The committee has disclosed that several GOP lawmakers communicated with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows before and during the Capitol attack, according to thousands of pages of emails and text messages Meadows turned over to the committee before he reversed course and refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Perry, a leader of the House Freedom Caucus who communicated with Meadows ahead of the attack, was the target of the committee's first known request to a sitting Republican lawmaker.

The committee also said Perry played an "important role" in efforts to install former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark as attorney general in the days before the Jan. 6 attack, as Clark was pushing unproven claims of election fraud.

Some Republicans have also made it clear that if they regain power in the House following the upcoming midterms, they would seek retribution against Democrats and associates of President Joe Biden over the committee's investigation.

"Joe Biden has eviscerated Executive Privilege," Rep. Jordan wrote on Twitter after former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon was charged in November with criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena.

"There are a lot of Republicans eager to hear testimony from Ron Klain and Jake Sullivan when we take back the House," Jordan wrote, referencing Biden's chief of staff and national security adviser.

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