House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy sent a letter to the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, on Wednesday demanding that it preserve all records and transcripts and vowing to hold hearings next year on the security failures that led to the US Capitol breach.
After winning the House majority earlier this month, Republicans made it clear they will prioritize investigating President Joe Biden and his administration on a variety of fronts. The latest warning from McCarthy, who is vying to be House speaker, signals that Republicans may also use some of their time in the next Congress attempting to rewrite the narrative of the insurrection.
“It is imperative that all information collected be preserved not just for institutional prerogatives but for transparency to the American people,” wrote McCarthy, who did not comply with a subpoena to appear before the committee. “The American people have a right to know that the allegations you have made are supported by the facts.”
Democratic Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House select committee, told reporters Wednesday that he had not seen the California Republican’s letter to the committee, but that the panel planned to preserve everything. He added that McCarthy “had a chance to have members on the committee, he had a chance to come and testify before the committee, so, I think the horse has left the barn.”
Thompson said, “We will do our work. We will end December 31. If he wants to conduct whatever he wants as speaker, it’s his choice.”
McCarthy has signaled no interest in creating a Republican-led January 6 select committee, as some on the right have pushed to do. But McCarthy – who is scrambling to lock down speaker votes – is expected to give his members some room to re-litigate the Democrat-led select committee’s investigation. That effort is likely to be housed within existing committees.
Earlier this year, Republicans on the House Administration Committee sent a similar preservation request to the select committee and also pledged to continue looking into January 6 security failures. The House GOP is planning to release its own report on the topic when the select committee releases its final report before the end of this year.
Thompson reiterated Wednesday that not only does the panel plan to preserve everything, it’s also set to release as much as possible to the public through its final report as soon as the committee gets the report back from the printer.
“A lot depends on when we can get it back once we get it to the printer and how that impacts the Christmas holidays,” Thompson said.
Top House Republicans would much rather put January 6 in the rear view mirror, but McCarthy needs to win over hardline critics and keep former President Donald Trump happy if he wants to become speaker – and that group is eager to undermine the committee’s investigation, which has painted a damning portrait of Trump and his allies.
Meanwhile, members of the select committee are scheduled to have a key meeting on Friday to discuss its final report as well as the possibility of making criminal referrals, CNN reported earlier Wednesday.
A subcommittee of members is also expected to provide options to the full committee about a number of pressing issues including how to present evidence of possible obstruction, possible perjury and possible witness tampering as well as potential criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, according to multiple sources familiar with the committee’s work.
Also under discussion in the Friday meeting will be how to handle the five Republican lawmakers who refused to cooperate with their subpoenas, which includes McCarthy.