Authors: Ryan Nobles and Anne Greer | CNN
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy issued an implicit threat on Tuesday to companies that cooperated with the House Special Committee to investigate the fatal riots in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, warning that “the Republican majority will not forget.”
“If these companies comply with the order of the Democratic Party to hand over private information, they will violate federal law and may lose the ability to operate in the United States,” the California Republican said in a statement he posted to Twitter. “If the company still chooses to violate federal laws, the Republican majority will not forget it and will stand with the Americans and let them take full responsibility in accordance with the law.”
McCarthy’s office will not provide CNN with specific federal regulations. If a company complies with the officially appointed congressional committee, it will violate the regulations.
California Democrat Eric Swarwell tweeted a strong response. He wrote: “McCarthy just equated Congress with the threat of a’informer injection’. When people do this in our community, We will hold them accountable. If we do not have law and order, we will lose everything.”
In a statement to CNN, Swarwell went further, saying: “I think we should consider criminal referrals for witness tampering/intimidation and obstruction of justice. I have prosecuted on a small scale. Those who did less in the case.”
According to ethics expert Noam Eisen, McCarthy’s threats to the company may violate House rules, which prohibit members from acting in ways that discredit the House of Representatives.
Eisen was the first Democratic adviser to impeach Trump. He said McCarthy’s threats could violate House Rule 23, which stipulates that members “should act in a credible manner to the House at all times.”
Eisen asked in a telephone interview: “What could be less credible than the House Minority Leader publicly cracking down on company violations and hiding evidence that might implicate him and his colleagues during legal investigations.”
Eisen said McCarthy’s threat amounts to a “clear basis” for ethics investigations. If the House Ethics Committee handles the matter, it can always refer it to the Department of Justice. But this process is carried out in secret and usually takes months or even years to complete.
Eisen also admitted that the speech and debate clauses of the Constitution can help McCarthy avoid any attempts to prosecute him. He also said that the scope of the clause’s protection for legislators has not been fully tested in court.
When asked if he thinks an ethics complaint should be filed, Svalwell replied: “I think this is more serious than that.”
The Select Committee took the first step in the investigation process on Monday, asking more than 30 social media and telecommunications companies to keep phone records of certain lawmakers and former President Donald Trump track members who played a role in “stop stealing.” A certain function of the assembly as a prelude to the Congressional uprising.
Although the committee did not disclose the names of the legislators against which its records were directed, a number of sources familiar with the work of the group confirmed to CNN that the committee wanted to keep the records of several members of Congress.
The committee did not formally request any documents, but requested that records be kept in case the investigation requires it. McCarthy suggested that it may be illegal to cooperate with the committee, which may make it more difficult for the committee to obtain records.
A committee spokesperson said late Tuesday that the threats would not affect its work.
“The special committee is investigating the violent attack on the Capitol and is trying to overturn last year’s election results. We have asked the company not to destroy records that may help answer the questions of the American people,” spokesman Tim Mulvey told CNN. Said in a statement. “The committee’s efforts will not be stopped by those who want to whitewash or cover up the events of January 6 or hinder our investigation.”
McCarthy also accused the special committee of powerfully armed private companies. In his statement, he specifically pointed out that committee chairman Benny Thompson was a Democrat of Mississippi, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Adam Schiff were both California Democrats.
It is not yet clear what means the committee will use to force telecommunications companies to comply with their demands. The committee does have the right to subpoena, but requesting information—especially from members of Congress—may lead to a lengthy legal battle.
According to sources, as previously reported by CNN, McCarthy’s name was clearly not on the initial list sent by the committee to the company for record keeping.
Nonetheless, the content of congressmen’s calls with Trump during the worst of the riots is expected to arouse great interest from the committee. Thompson has repeatedly not ruled out asking McCarthy to testify before the committee, if this is the direction of the investigation.