It was shortly before Christmas when the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack requested information from Republican Rep. Scott Perry. As we’ve discussed, the Pennsylvanian’s anti-election work with the Trump White House made him an obvious person of interest — his significance has only grown since — but Perry nevertheless said soon after that he would not cooperate with the investigation.
Next up was Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, whom investigators sought out a week later. Despite the Ohioan’s repeated insistence that he had “nothing to hide,” the far-right congressman, whose relevance to the probe is obvious, signaled his intention to ignore the committee’s request.
Today, the total number of sitting members of Congress receiving invitations from the bipartisan panel doubled. Politico reported:
The Jan. 6 select committee on Monday requested testimony from three more House Republicans who are connected to the push by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election that ultimately metastasized into the Capitol riot. Congressional investigators sent requests for voluntary interviews to Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).
The words “voluntary interviews” are, to be sure, highly relevant: The Jan. 6 committee has issued a great many subpoenas since its examination began, but it has not been willing to go so far as to subpoena their own congressional colleagues. That remains the case now: Biggs, Brooks, and Jackson have received formal invitations to answer questions, but they can decline.
Given recent history and common sense, it’s likely they will do as Perry, Jordan, and McCarthy did, and thumb their noses at the select panel.
But before the political world simply shrugs its shoulders at these developments, it’s worth considering what makes this trio of particular interest to investigators.
It was just 10 days ago when the Jan. 6 committee submitted a court filing that noted, among other things, that in the runup to the attack on the Capitol, then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was in frequent communications with a variety of far-right House Republicans. The panel specifically referenced testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide who worked with Meadows, who referenced a Dec. 21, 2020, strategy session that Biggs attended. Naturally, committee members want to hear more about this.
What’s more, today’s request for a voluntary interview said the committee has information regarding the Arizonan’s efforts to persuade state legislators to accept Donald Trump’s lies about his election defeat as part of the effort to overturn the results.
The panel also told Biggs, “[R]ecent information from former White House personnel has identified an effort by certain House Republicans after January 6th to seek a presidential pardon for activities taken in connection with President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Your name was identified as a potential participant in that effort.”
As for Jackson, members of the right-wing Oath Keepers texted one another on Jan. 6. From a recent Politico report:
The Oath Keepers also exchanged messages that referenced members of Congress. [Oath Keepers founder Stewart] Rhodes, in particular, asked an associate for the cell number of Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) who was described by members on the text chain as being in need of security during the attack on the Capitol. Jackson was the White House physician before he was elected to Congress in 2020.
“Dr. Ronnie Jackson — on the move. Needs protection. If anyone inside cover him. He has critical data to protect,” one unidentified person wrote. “Help with what?” Rhodes replied. “Give him my cell.”
The Texas Republican has said he has no idea why the radicals were texting about him and does not know Rhodes or his associates. Nevertheless, the House select committee wants to explore this further.
But Brooks is another story altogether. In fact, while I don’t really expect any House Republicans to voluntarily answer investigators’ questions, the Alabaman might be tempted.
There’s no doubt that Brooks has an important perspective. He spoke at Trump’s pre-riot rally; he attended the aforementioned Dec. 21 strategy session; and a couple of months ago, the Alabama congressman — who’s also a U.S. Senate candidate — said in writing that the former president asked him to ignore legal limits to help overturn the 2020 election. The written statement came on the heels of Trump rescinding his earlier endorsement of Brooks' Senate campaign.
In fact, Brooks said that Trump asked him to “rescind” the 2020 elections, remove President Joe Biden from office, reinstall Trump into the White House, and “hold a new special election for the presidency.” According to his account, the lawmaker told the former president that such steps weren’t possible.
Soon after, Brooks effectively dared the Jan. 6 committee to reach out to him directly. Pressed on whether he was prepared to answer investigators’ questions, the Alabaman said, “I will take that under advisement if they ever contact me.”
That wasn’t a “no.” Watch this space.