The Jan. 6 panel cites House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and other lawmakers.

The decision to issue subpoenas to McCarthy, R-Calif., and Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama is a dramatic show of force by the panel, which has already interviewed nearly 1,000 witnesses and gathered more than 100,000 documents as he investigates the worst attack on Capitol Hill in two centuries.

The move is not without risk, as Republicans are favorites to regain the House majority in this fall’s midterm elections and have promised retaliation for Democrats if they take control.

After the announcement, McCarthy, who is running for House speaker, told reporters “I haven’t seen a subpoena” and said his opinion of the Jan. 6 committee hasn’t changed since the nine-member panel requested their voluntary cooperation earlier this year. .

“They are not conducting a legitimate investigation,” McCarthy said. “It seems they just want to go after their political opponents.”

Similarly, Perry told reporters the investigation is a “sham” and said the subpoena is “all about the headlines.”

Neither of them said if they would comply.

The panel, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, had previously asked for the voluntary cooperation of the five lawmakers, along with a handful of other GOP members, but all refused to speak to the panel, which debated for months whether to issue the citations.

“Before we hold our hearings next month, we wanted to give members the opportunity to discuss these issues with the committee on a voluntary basis,” said Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the panel’s Democratic chair. “Sadly, the people who received the subpoenas today have refused and we are forced to take this step to help ensure that the committee uncovers the facts related to January 6.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, the panel’s Republican vice chair, said the step was not taken lightly. Lawmakers’ unwillingness to provide relevant information about the attack, she said, is “a very serious and grave situation.”

Congressional subpoenas for sitting members of Congress, especially a party leader, have little precedent in decades, and it’s unclear what the consequences would be if any or all of the five men refuse to comply. The House of Representatives voted to hold two other noncompliant witnesses, former Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows, in contempt by referring their cases to the Justice Department.

In announcing the subpoenas, the Jan. 6 panel said there is historical precedent for the move, noting that the House Ethics Committee has “issued a number of subpoenas to members of Congress for testimony or documents,” though such actions are usually done in secret.

“We recognize that this is unprecedented,” Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the other Republican member of the panel, said after the committee announced the subpoenas. “But the attack on January 6 was unprecedented.”

Kinzinger said it’s “important for us to get as much information as we can.”

McCarthy acknowledged that he spoke to Trump on Jan. 6 as Trump supporters were beating up police outside the Capitol and forcing their way into the building. But he hasn’t shared many details. The committee requested information about his conversations with Trump “before, during and after” the riot.

McCarthy spoke on the House floor after the rioters were acquitted, saying in a forceful speech that Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack and that it was the “saddest day I’ve ever had” in Congress, even as he joined 138 other House Republicans by voting to reject the election results.

Another Republican caucus member, Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, said after the attack that McCarthy had recounted telling Trump publicly to “call off the rioting” and said the violent mob was made up of Trump supporters, not extreme left. antifa members, as Trump had claimed.

“That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said, ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Herrera Beutler said in a statement last year.

However, the GOP leader soon reconciled with Trump, visiting him in Florida and rallying House Republicans to vote against investigations into the attack.

The other four men were in contact with the White House for several weeks before the insurrection, speaking with Trump and his legal advisers about ways to stop the congressional vote count on January 6 to certify Joe Biden’s victory.

“These members include those who participated in meetings at the White House, those who had direct conversations with President Trump before and during the attack on Capitol Hill, and those who were involved in the planning and coordination of certain activities prior to January. 6th,” the committee said in a statement.

Brooks, who has since criticized Trump, spoke alongside the former president at the mass rally outside the White House on the morning of Jan. 6, telling his supporters to “start taking down names and kicking ass” before hundreds of them broke into the capitol.

Perry spoke to the White House about replacing acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with an official more sympathetic to Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, and Biggs was involved in plans to bring protesters to Washington and pressure state officials to overturn legitimate election results. depending on the panel. Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, spoke with Trump on January 6 and was also involved in strategizing to nullify the election.

Several of his efforts were detailed in texts provided to the panel by Meadows, who was Trump’s chief of staff at the time.

“11 days to 6/1 and 25 days to opening,” he texted Meadows on Dec. 26, 2020. “We need to get going!”

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Associated Press writer Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.

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