The Jan. 6 select committee is entering a crossroads in its pursuit of Republicans in Congress, as Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has rejected a request for voluntary participation with a letter Sunday to Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.
The committee is attempting “an outrageous abuse” of power, a “dangerous precedent,” according to Jordan, one that can be weaponized again in the future. Jordan noted the Jan. 6 panel has only subpoenaed Republicans in its “partisan witch-hunt.”
Jordan’s denial to contribute will force Democrats to weigh whether they will subpoena Republicans and potentially treat them like they have advisers to former President Donald Trump, holding them in criminal contempt by President Joe Biden’s Justice Department.
“I can’t, off the top of my head, recall a case in which a committee other than the Ethics Committee has subpoenaed a member of the House, ever,” Stanley Brand, who is representing former deputy White House chief of staff Dan Scavino before the committee, told The Washington Post.
Brand noted the danger of this action by Democrats in Congress — it can boomerang back on them, particularly as Republicans have repeatedly argued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is the official in charge of Capitol security.
“What would stop a committee from subpoenaing members of the opposite party to obtain a political advantage?” Brand told the Post. “That is why the Ethics Committee is evenly split — to prevent abuse of the minority by the majority.”
The House can subpoena its own members by precedent, because the House Ethics Committee does it regularly to conduct oversight, lawyer Mike Stern told the Post.
“Democrats overstepped and overpromised, and they know it,” according to Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., one of two Republicans denied seats on Pelosi’s anti-Trump committee, forcing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to withdraw all five GOP nominees and refuse to participate.
“The Russia hoax was exposed as a fraud, and this is their attempt to appease disappointed radicals who fantasize about putting Republicans in jail,” Banks told the Washington Examiner.
Despite the congressional norm of leaving just the Ethics Committee to force compliance to subpoena House members, Thompson, the chairman of the Jan. 6 select committee vowed “no reluctance to subpoena” Republicans, which can ultimately lead to criminal contempt charges as they have done with Steve Bannon and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
“The American people are tired of Democrats’ nonstop investigations and partisan witch-hunts,” Jordan wrote in his letter to Thompson on Sunday.