Brooks’ admission, which came hours after Trump rescinded his Senate bid, has put renewed pressure on House investigators to obtain testimony from recalcitrant fellow Republicans. And then Brooks almost dared the committee to call him, hinting he might comply, when reporters asked Tuesday if he would testify.
“I’ll take that under advisement if they ever contact me,” he said.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said they haven’t “hired” Brooks yet, but “he’s one of the people we looked at.”
Other grassroots Democrats were quick to say Brooks’ admission requires his public testimony.
“Congressman Mo Brooks’ admission that Donald Trump instructed him to attempt to illegally overthrow the United States government is extremely significant,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va) said. “We need dates and details of those conversations, and we need them under oath. Brooks needs to testify.
The committee itself may need more convincing. Thompson indicated that forcing fellow lawmakers to testify would be extremely difficult and possibly impossible in the committee’s busy schedule. Protracted subpoena battles against members of Congress, who might be asserting constitutional protections that might prevail in court, would drain the committee’s time and resources.
More importantly, according to committee members, the panel successfully used other sources to obtain much of the evidence that GOP lawmakers could share, avoiding the need to fight with their colleagues. That appears to be the case with Brooks, who has already exposed much of what he knows in public statements and interviews with reporters.
Some selected panel members largely declined to comment on Brooks’ testimony. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) declined to speak specifically about Brooks, but said, “I think we’re interested in speaking to anyone with relevant information.”
“We’re not talking about specific witnesses, but we want to hear from anyone who has important information related to the investigation,” echoed Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.).
The select committee has already attempted to secure the voluntary cooperation of three Republican lawmakers: Rep. Scott Perry (Pennsylvania), Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy. All three refused, citing at the time the possibility that the committee could issue subpoenas to compel their testimony. But that was months ago, and Thompson said members had yet to decide how aggressively to demand testimony from Republicans.
For months, it was clear the select committee would need information from GOP lawmakers to present a full account of Trump’s efforts to void the 2020 election.
Brooks was the first member of Congress to publicly declare in November 2020 that he would vote to reject the results of multiple state contests on January 6, 2021, when Congress convened to count the electoral votes. Brooks also spoke at Trump’s Ellipse rally that morning and used inflammatory rhetoric that caught the attention of investigators — and a lawsuit from fellow Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.).
But other lawmakers have also played key roles, such as huddling with Trump to strategize to keep him in power. Perry helped Trump connect with Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official who pushed a strategy to get the department to cast doubt on the election results. Trump tried, but ultimately rejected, a plan to install Clark as acting attorney general.
McCarthy, on the other hand, was the primary witness to Trump’s actions as his supporters turned violent and stormed the Capitol. The GOP leader reached out to Trump and begged him to help quell the violence, according to a lawmaker who heard McCarthy’s account. McCarthy has repeatedly confirmed that he spoke with Trump that day, but said he was briefing the then-president on what was happening during the attack.
While committee members don’t deny they’re interested in this Republican testimony, they’re held back by more than whether they might actually be successful in coercing their colleagues’ hands. They also fear setting precedents that could be deployed against them under a GOP majority expected next year, as the party promises multiple investigations into President Joe Biden, the southern border and more.