On Wednesday, House Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California), the next presumptive Speaker of the House, issued a warning to members of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, telling them to preserve their records and expect to be investigated once the GOP assumes power in the House of Representatives next month.
McCarthy also said that once Republicans take control of the House — effective January 3, 2023 — the January 6 committee’s work will immediately “come to an end.”
In a letter addressed to committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), McCarthy reminded the committee that it must “preserve all records collected and transcripts taken” during its work over the past year.
The records “do not belong to you or any member, but to the American people, and they are owed all of the information you gathered — not merely the information that comports with your political agenda,” McCarthy wrote.
Once Republicans take power, they will investigate the committee’s process to determine if they acted improperly, McCarthy added.
Despite McCarthy’s insinuations, there is no indication that the committee hasn’t preserved its records. In his letter, the House GOP leader cites “news reports” in which the committee’s “members and staff” have complained about “visibility into the totality of the investigation.” The news report included in the letter as a footnote, however, contains complaints that certain members of the committee have had too much influence, and that elements of the committee’s work haven’t been emphasized enough — not about transparency.
Indeed, other news reports have indicated that the final report will be quite detailed, consisting of eight separate chapters outlining the committee’s findings. The report will likely include information that hasn’t yet been disclosed to the public, such as witness testimonies that have taken place after the last public hearing.
Committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) has said that all of the committee’s findings — including complete transcripts of every witness’s testimony — would be included in the final report.
“[Republicans have] been pretty clear they’d like to undermine the work we’ve done but we’re going to prevent that,” Lofgren said to CNN on Thursday morning. “We are going to release all the information we’ve collected so it cannot be selectively edited and spun.”
Many legal experts were critical of McCarthy’s letter, noting that he has largely ignored the inquiry’s findings — including compelling evidence of attempts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
“Kevin McCarthy’s letter demanding that the Jan. 6 committee preserve its records is mostly nonsense because the committee is planning to release all but a few of its transcripts,” tweeted Kyle Cheney, senior legal affairs reporter for Politico, in response to the Republican leader’s letter.
Noah Bookbinder, president of the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), also condemned McCarthy’s missive to the committee.
“Let’s be clear: the new Republican House’s likely ‘investigation’ of the Jan. 6 Committee is nothing more than a transparent attempt to undercut that committee’s important findings and to protect Donald Trump and others who tried to overturn an election,” Bookbinder said.