Jan. 6 panel seeks to interview three other GOP lawmakers

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol sent letters Monday requesting interviews with three Rep...


WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol sent letters Monday requesting interviews with three Republican members of Congress, and the panel said it had gathered evidence that some House Republicans had sought a presidential pardon following the violence that engulfed the Capitol.

The committee requests interviews with Representative Andy Biggs from Arizona, the former leader of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus; Representative Mo Brooks from Alabama, which said former President Donald J. Trump continued to seek reinstatement; and Representative Ronny Jackson of Texas, Mr. Trump’s former White House physician.

In a letter to Mr. Biggs, committee leaders wrote they wanted to ask him about evidence they had obtained about efforts by some House Republicans to seek a presidential pardon after January 6 as part of of Mr. Trump’s efforts to cancel the 2020 election.

“Your name has been identified as a potential participant in this effort,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, and Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, the committee leaders, wrote to Mr. Biggs. “We would like to understand all the details of the pardon request, the more specific reasons why a pardon was requested and the scope of the proposed pardon.”

The committee also said it wanted to question Mr. Biggs about a Dec. 21, 2020, meeting he attended at the White House with several other members of the Freedom Caucus. There, the discussion included a plan in which former Vice President Mike Pence would unilaterally refuse to count certain states’ certified electoral votes on Jan. 6.

Investigators said they also had evidence of Mr. Biggs’ efforts to persuade state lawmakers to join Mr. Trump’s efforts to void the 2020 election.

The panel also wants to ask Mr. Biggs about Ali Alexander, a prominent organizer of so-called Stop the Steal rallies with ties to far-right members of Congress who sought to invalidate the 2020 election results. Mr. Alexander said he, along with Mr. Biggs, Mr. Brooks and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, sparked the events of January 6.

“The four of us conspired to exert maximum pressure on Congress as they voted,” Alexander said in a since-deleted video. He added that even if they couldn’t pressure lawmakers, “we could change the hearts and minds of the Republicans who were in this body, hearing our loud roar from the outside.”

The committee described Mr Alexander as “a precocious and aggressive supporter of the Stop the Steal movement which called for violence before January 6”.

“We would like to understand precisely what you knew prior to the Jan. 6 violence about the goals, planning and expectations of the march on Capitol Hill,” Mr. Thompson and Ms. Cheney wrote to Mr. Biggs.

Mr. Brooks, who wore a bulletproof vest on stage that day as he told the crowd to ‘start taking names and kicking ass’, and Mr Biggs, who provided a video message for Mr Alexander to perform at a rally on December 19, denied coordinating event planning with Mr. Alexander.

The panel wants to question Mr Brooks on statements he made in March claiming that Mr. Trump had repeatedly asked him in the months following the election to illegally “cancel” the results, impeach President Biden and force a special election.

Mr. Brooks said that Mr. Trump had asked him several times since September 1, 2021. He said that the former president had not specified exactly how Congress could reinstate him and that Mr. Brooks had repeated several times that it was impossible.

“I told President Trump that ‘cancelling’ the 2020 election was not a legal option. Period,” Mr Brooks said.

Investigators said they have questions for Mr. Jackson, the former White House doctor who is now a congressman, about why he was mentioned in cryptic messages from the Oath Keepers, a militia, some of whose members have been criminally charged in connection with the attack. In the messages, militia members appear to have Mr Jackson’s mobile phone and say he is ‘on the move’ and ‘needs protection’ as the violence was ongoing.

Members of the Oath Keepers, including its leader, Stewart Rhodes, exchanged encrypted messages asking members of the organization to personally provide Mr Jackson with security assistance, suggesting he had ‘critical data to protect “, according to federal prosecutors.

“Why would these people have an interest in your specific location? Why would they think you “have critical data to protect”? Mr. Thompson and Ms. Cheney wrote to Mr. Jackson. “Why would they order their members to protect your personal safety?” Who did you talk to on the cell phone that day? »

On Jan. 6, Mr. Jackson posted photos of himself at Mr. Trump’s rally on the Ellipse that preceded the violence, and tweeted: “American patriots support you, Mr. President! We will fight for YOU and we will fight for OUR country!!”

Mr. Thompson and Ms. Cheney wrote to Mr. Jackson: “We would like to discuss how and when you returned from the Ellipse to the Capitol, and any contact you had with rally or march participants. which followed from the Ellipse to the Capitol. Capitol.”

Mr. Biggs and Mr. Brooks did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letters.

In a statement, Mr. Jackson called the committee “illegitimate” and said he would not agree to an interview. He denied having been in contact with members of the Oath Keepers.

“I don’t know, and I haven’t had contact with, those who texted about me on January 6,” Jackson said. “In fact, I was proud to help defend the floor of the House against those who posed a threat to my colleagues. The Committee’s witch hunt against me is nothing more than a coordinated attempt to do the media work at taxpayer expense.

The committee has so far opted not to issue a subpoena for congressional testimony, citing the panel’s “considerable respect for the prerogatives of Congress and the privacy of its members.”

“At the same time, we have a solemn responsibility to fully investigate the facts and circumstances of these events,” Mr. Thompson and Ms. Cheney wrote.

The group has already requested interviews with Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader; Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio; and Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

Each refused to meet with the committee’s investigators.

The panel has interviewed over 935 witnesses to date.

The letters to members of Congress come after the committee won a court victory on Sunday night against the Republican National Committee, which had tried to block a subpoena to a vendor, Salesforce.com.

The panel is investigating how Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party raised hundreds of millions of dollars from donors while falsely claiming the election was stolen, and a federal judge has ruled that investigators could obtain Republican National Committee marketing email data.

The January 6 committee is planning a series of public hearings in June to reveal its findings. Mr Thompson said eight hearings would take place over several weeks from June 9, some in prime time in a bid to attract large television audiences.

Alain Feuer contributed report.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Jan. 6 panel seeks to interview three other GOP lawmakers
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