Adam Schiff, a senior Democratic member of the House select committee investigating the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, said on Monday the panel was “going straight to subpoenas where we think we’re dealing with recalcitrant witnesses.”
“In some cases, we’re making requests we think will be complied with,” Schiff also told reporters, as relayed by Politico.
The select committee contains only two Republicans: prominent Trump critics Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. The minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, withdrew co-operation when the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, rejected his suggestion of panel slots for Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana, key allies of Donald Trump.
Jordan in particular has been the focus of reporting on what he knew and when about the 6 January attack, around which five people died and which Trump supporters mounted after a “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House, at which Trump told them to “fight like hell” in service of his lie that his defeat by Joe Biden was the result of electoral fraud.
Jordan and other members of Congress including McCarthy are seen as potential witnesses to be called by the 6 January committee.
Most observers expect them to fiercely resist such summons. Some have claimed “executive privilege” may shield Republicans from discussing communications with Trump in January. Schiff, the chair of the House intelligence committee, said such claims were “bogus” and said the Biden justice department is unlikely to approve them.
“Where we do meet resistance, we intend to push back hard and fast,” Schiff said, without naming any prospective witnesses. Whether simple Republican refusal to play ball can be overcome without lengthy court battles remains of course to be seen.
Here’s Sidney Blumenthal’s take on whether Jordan can be compelled to appear before the committee – informed by events in Virginia and in Congress in the years immediately before the civil war: