WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol sent letters on Monday requesting interviews with three Republican members of Congress, and the panel said it had gathered evidence that some House Republicans sought presidential pardon in the wake of the violence that engulfed. the capital.
The committee is requesting interviews with Arizona Representative Andy Biggs, the former leader of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus; Alabama Representative Mo Brooks, who has said former President Donald J. Trump has continued to seek reinstatement in office; and Representative Ronny Jackson of Texas, the former White House doctor to Mr. Trump.
In a letter to Mr. Biggs, committee leaders wrote that they wanted to question him about evidence they had obtained about attempts by certain House Republicans to seek a presidential pardon after Jan. 6 in connection with Mr. 2020 undo. †
“Your name was identified as a potential participant in that effort,” Mississippi Democrat Bennie Thompson, Representative Bennie Thompson, and Wyoming Republican Representative Liz Cheney, the committee’s leaders, wrote to Mr. Biggs. “We would like to understand all the details of the pardon request, more specific reasons why the pardon was requested and the scope of the pardon proposed.”
The committee also said it wanted to interview Mr. Biggs about a December 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 push to undo the 2020 election.
The panel also wants to question Mr. Biggs about Ali Alexander, a prominent organizer of so-called Stop the Steal rallies with ties to far-right members of Congress who attempted to invalidate the 2020 election results. Mr. Alexander has said that he, along with Mr. Biggs, Mr. Brooks and Arizona Representative Paul Gosar, set the events of January 6 in motion.
“The four of us planned to put maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said in a since-deleted video posted online. He added that even if they couldn’t lobby the lawmakers, “we could change the hearts and minds of the Republicans who were in that body by hearing our loud roars from outside.”
The committee described Mr Alexander as “an early and aggressive supporter of the Stop the Steal movement who called for violence before January 6.”
“We’d like to know exactly what you knew before the January 6 violence about the purposes, planning and expectations for the Capitol march,” Mr. Thompson and Ms. Cheney wrote to Mr. Biggs.
mr. Brooks, who wore body armor that day onstage as he told the crowd to “take names and kick,” and Mr. Biggs, who provided a video message for Mr. Alexander to play at a rally on December 19, having denied planning events with Mr. Alexander to coordinate.
The panel wants to question Mr. Brooks about statements he made in March alleging that Mr Trump had repeatedly asked him in the months since the election to illegally “revoke results”, remove President Biden and call a special election. force.
Mr Brooks said Mr Trump has requested him multiple times since September 1, 2021. He said the former president has not specified exactly how Congress can reinstate him, and Mr Brooks has repeatedly told him it is impossible.
“I told President Trump that ‘withdrawing’ the 2020 election was not a legal option. Period, said Mr Brooks.
Investigators said they had questions for Mr. Jackson, the former White House doctor who is now a member of Congress, about why he was mentioned in encrypted messages from the Oath Keepers, a militia group some members of which have been charged with criminal charges in connection with with the attack. In the messages, militia members appear to have Mr Jackson’s cell phone and say he is “on the way” and “needs protection” while the violence was ongoing.
Members of the Oath Keepers, including its leader, Stewart Rhodes, exchanged coded messages asking members of the organization to provide Mr. Jackson with personal security assistance, suggesting he “must protect critical data,” federal prosecutors said.
“Why would these people be interested in your specific location? Why would they think you should ‘protect critical data’?” Mr. Thompson and Mrs. Cheney wrote to Mr. Jackson. “Why would they instruct their members to protect your personal safety? Who did you talk to on the phone that day?”
On January 6, Mr. Jackson posted photos of himself at Mr. Trump’s rally on the Ellipse leading up to the violence, posting on Twitter: “American patriots have your BACK, Mr. President! We will FIGHT for YOU and we will fight for OUR country!!”
The Aftermath of Capitol Riot: Key Developments
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 the contacts you had with participants in the rally or subsequent march 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 commission “unlawful” and said he did not agree to an interview. He denied having any contact with members of the Oath Keepers.
“I don’t know the people who exchanged texts about me on January 6, nor have I had any contact with them,” said Mr. Jackson. “Actually, I was proud to help defend the House of Representatives against those who posed a threat to my colleagues. The Committee’s witch-hunt against me is nothing more than a concerted effort to do the media’s job on taxpayers’ dime.”
The committee has so far elected not to subpoena the testimony of members of Congress, citing the panel’s “tremendous respect for Congressional prerogatives 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,” wrote Mr. Thompson and Ms. Cheney.
The panel has already sought interviews with Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader; Ohio Representative Jim Jordan; and Pennsylvania Representative Scott Perry.
Each has declined to meet with the commission’s investigators.
The panel has interviewed more than 935 witnesses to date.
The letters to members of Congress come after the committee won a court victory late Sunday against the Republican National Committee, which had attempted to block a subpoena from a vendor, Salesforce.com.
The panel examines how Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party raised hundreds of millions of dollars from donors while falsely claiming the election had been stolen, and a federal judge ruled that investigators could use the Republican National’s marketing email data. Committee to obtain.
The January 6 commission is planning a series of public hearings in June to announce its findings. Mr Thompson has said there will be eight hearings over several weeks starting on June 9, some in prime time in an effort to attract a large television audience.
Alan Feuer reporting contributed.