The committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol sent a letter Wednesday to House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy asking for information on a number of topics, including his conversations with former President Donald Trump "before, during and after the violent January 6th attack." McCarthy, however, quickly rejected the request.
"You have acknowledged speaking directly with the former president while the violence was underway on Jan. 6," Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committe's chairman, wrote in the letter, which asks McCarthy, R-Calif., to provide information about his communications with Trump and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the days leading up to the attack.
“We also must learn about how the President’s plans for January 6th came together, and all the other ways he attempted to alter the results of the election,” Thompson wrote. “For example, in advance of January 6th, you reportedly explained to Mark Meadows and the former President that objections to the certification of the electoral votes on January 6th ‘was doomed to fail.’”
In a statement released late Wednesday, McCarthy said he will not participate in the panel's investigation.
"This committee is not conducting a legitimate investigation as Speaker Pelosi took the unprecedented action of rejecting the Republican members I named to serve on the committee. It is not serving any legislative purpose," McCarthy claimed. "The committee’s only objective is to attempt to damage its political opponents – acting like the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee one day and the DOJ the next.
"The committee has demanded testimony from staffers who applied for First Amendment permits," he continued. "It has subpoenaed the call records of private citizens and their financial records from banks while demanding secrecy not supported by law. It has lied about the contents of documents it has received. It has held individuals in contempt of Congress for exercising their Constitutional right to avail themselves of judicial proceedings. And now it wants to interview me about public statements that have been shared with the world, and private conversations not remotely related to the violence that unfolded at the Capitol. I have nothing else to add.
“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," he concluded.
McCarthy is the third House Republican the Jan. 6 panel has sought to interview for its probe into the deadly insurrection, but the first party leader asked to speak to the committee, making him the highest-ranking lawmaker the panel is pursuing.
The other two Republican lawmakers – Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan – have each said they will not cooperate with the panel's investigation.
In the panel's letter, Thompson asked specifically about conversations McCarthy may have had with Jordan, as well as Trump, members of the former president's legal team and others about "objections to the electoral votes from multiple states."
Thompson’s letter cites multiple statements and interviews in which McCarthy described his interactions with the president, including an interview with CBS News in which McCarthy said: “I was very clear with the president when I called him. This has to stop and he has to go to the American public and tell them to stop this.”
Rep. Jaime Herrera Butler, R-Wash., one of McCarthy's colleagues, previously said that the GOP leader told her that Trump said to him, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.