House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was officially subpoenaed by the Select Committee on Jan. 6 along with four other Republican members of the lower chamber in an unprecedented step on Thursday.
Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Mo Brooks of Alabama are each demanded to offer testimony to the witch-hunt probe established by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi under threat of contempt charges that have been levied on those who’ve refused to comply.
“The illegitimate January 6th Committee had already turned Congress’s investigative authority into a political weapon; now they’ve turned that weapon on their own colleagues,” said GOP Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, who was appointed as ranking member of the committee but was barred by Speaker Pelosi from serving his minority duty. “If anyone deserves a subpoena, it’s the Speaker, the only person in Congress who is covering up key documents related to January 6th.”
Even more bizarre than the subpoenas issued to sitting lawmakers, however, are the circumstances surrounding their inception.
A congressional subpoena is not necessarily a document of its authorized committee. It is a document of Congress, wherein the authorizing committee votes on its delivery, it gets signed by the chairman, and then it gets approved by the House Counsel’s office, which reviews its legal legitimacy. No subpoena may ever be issued by Congress without the express consent of the House General Counsel, which is also tasked with representing lawmakers.
Douglas Letter, the incumbent general counsel for the House of Representatives, sent a message to members shortly after the subpoenas were issued offering to receive their service on lawmakers’ behalf.
“I am authorized by House Members to accept service of process on their behalf in situations in which they are receiving subpoenas in connection with court proceedings, such as when they are being sued or are being asked to be a witness,” Letter wrote. “In such situations, Members authorize me to play this very limited ministerial role in order to make the service of process mechanism simple and so that they and their offices are not bothered by persons trying to serve process.”
The arrangement, however — according to Stan Brand, an attorney with Brand Woodward Law — presents a grave conflict of interest.
“It’s like calling up your opponent in litigation and offering to accept service on their behalf,” Brand told The Federalist. “How does he do that since his role is on the other side of the case?”
Brand called the conflict “remarkable,” adding, “there are constitutional legal issues involved in the enforcement of these subpoenas.”
Letter did not immediately respond to The Federalist’s request for comment.
Several House lawmakers who were handed official subpoenas on Thursday refused to comply with committee requests to offer voluntary testimony, claiming the investigation is illegitimate.
The Jan. 6 Committee, born in the ashes of the failed Jan. 6 Commission, is operating under questionable authority after Pelosi launched the norm-breaking probe with a prohibition on minority appointments to the panel. Jordan and Banks, now running their own investigation of the Capitol security failures with the speaker at the center, were each kicked from their appointed roles on the select committee in violation of House rules.
Republican lawmakers have consequently been barred from a review of the same material in the hands of Pelosi’s deputies on the panel who’ve selectively leaked their findings of private communications to smear political dissidents.
Tristan Justice is the western correspondent for The Federalist. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and The Daily Signal. His work has also been featured in Real Clear Politics and Fox News. Tristan graduated from George Washington University where he majored in political science and minored in journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at Tristan@thefederalist.com.