“We will take action,” said Jan. 6 committee chairman Bennie Thompson. “I don’t know exactly what it will be.”
Republican targets were equally circumspect in their comments. Although they criticized the select committee, they explicitly declined to say whether or not they will comply with the subpoenas. Both Jordan and Perry said they have yet to receive subpoenas.
“Do you decide to do things when you haven’t even seen them? Perry said rhetorically when asked how he would handle the subpoena.
McCarthy ignored repeated questions about whether he would comply. But his attorney, Elliot Berke, accepted service of the subpoena on Thursday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Berke did not respond to requests for comment on the contents of the subpoena or whether it included a request for documents.
The veil of secrecy surrounding the subpoenas contrasts sharply with their historical nature. Outside of internal ethics investigations — which are evenly split between Republicans and Democrats — there is no modern precedent for a congressional committee subpoenaing members of the House. And the stakes of the January 6 committee inquiry are enormous. The panel believes these five GOP lawmakers have insight into Donald Trump’s efforts to nullify the 2020 election, an effort they say amounts to a coup attempt.
All were in contact with Trump in the days and weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, and testimony the committee has already received suggests that Jordan and Perry were in frequent contact with Trump to strategize about his efforts to stay in power.
Few of the committee’s subpoenas have been publicly revealed, but several have been sued by witnesses resisting cooperation. These subpoenas shed light on the nature of the committee’s demands. For example, a subpoena to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows targeted 27 categories of documents. The committee issued two subpoenas for the testimony of former Trump aide Dan Scavino, which were revealed in a March report accompanying the contempt proceedings brought by the select committee. And a subpoena to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was publicly released in October, shortly before he too was referred to the Justice Department for contempt.
The committee set the last week of May as the deadline for lawmakers to appear for depositions, though the panel routinely negotiates later dates with cooperative witnesses. However, the committee is also preparing for a series of two-week public hearings to present the findings of its 10-month investigation. Those hearings are due to begin on June 9, and the panel hopes to get the bulk of his testimony by then.
The committee is also silent on what it will do in the event that their GOP colleagues refuse to testify. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said he hopes the legal compulsion of a subpoena will be enough to convince Republicans to appear, even if they ultimately assert various privileges to decline to answer questions.
Raskin noted that if Republicans refuse to run altogether, the committee’s options include removing them for criminal or civil contempt, as it has done with recalcitrant witnesses like Bannon, who now faces two criminal contempt charges. Congress. But the Chamber also has the power to punish its members internally, by seeking ethics committee reviews or issuing fines, and it can choose to keep any attempts at punishment internally.
For now, lawmakers are appealing to their colleagues’ sense of duty in response to a subpoena tied to an attack on the Capitol — and on democracy itself.
“A true patriot would come forward at a time like this to say that I believe in our system of government and I believe that what happened on January 6 is not who we are as a nation,” Thompson said. “Therefore, we will offer all the information I have to make sure this never happens again.”