Rep. Kevin McCarthy
Rep. Kevin McCarthy Eliran Aharon

The House panel probing the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol on Thursday issued subpoenas to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and four other GOP lawmakers, an extraordinary step that has little precedent, reported The Associated Press.

The panel is investigating McCarthy’s conversations with then-President Donald Trump on the day of the attack and meetings the four other lawmakers had with the White House beforehand.

The decision to issue subpoenas to McCarthy, R-Calif., and Reps. 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 collected more than 100,000 documents as it investigates the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries.

The move is not without risk, as Republicans are favored to capture back the House majority in this fall’s midterm elections and have promised retribution for Democrats if they take control, noted AP.

After the announcement, McCarthy, who aspires to be House speaker, told reporters “I have not seen a subpoena” and said his view on the Jan. 6 committee has not changed since the nine-lawmaker panel asked for his voluntary cooperation earlier this year.

“They’re not conducting a legitimate investigation,” McCarthy said. “Seems as though they just want to go after their political opponents.”

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

Neither man said whether he would comply.

The US House of Representatives passed a bill last May to form a commission to probe the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The bill was approved in a 252-175 vote, with 35 Republicans joining all Democrats in support.

Two days later, however, Senate Republicans blocked the legislation. Senators voted 54-35 on the House-passed bill, falling short of the 10 GOP votes needed to get it over an initial hurdle.

Without any pathway forward in the Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would use her power to pursue a select committee in the House that will be controlled by Democrats, leading to the formation of the current panel.

The committee has already spoken to several figures in Trump's inner circle, including his daughter Ivanka, her husband and top Trump aide Jared Kushner, the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and Trump Jr.'s fiancée Kimberly Guilfoyle.

The select committee has so far subpoenaed a host of Trump allies, including his former lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell.

The House has already voted to hold four Trump associates in contempt of Congress for noncompliance with the subpoena. They are former White House senior advisor Steve Bannon, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Peter Navarro and Daniel Scavino.

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