Last week, the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas to five GOP members of the House, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), seeking their testimony on the events surrounding the insurrection following the 2020 presidential election.
These Republicans had contact with former President Donald Trump on the day of the Capitol attack, and have refused to give information about what exactly happened in those exchanges.
It’s unclear if they will comply with the subpoenas. But legal experts believe the Jan 6 Committee has set a trap for Republicans should they refuse to do so.
According to Politico, Republicans are planning to invoke the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution to declare themselves immune from such litigation in their duty as lawmakers.
However, as noted by Guardian reporter Hugo Lowell, the situation is a “win-win” for Democrats.
“If Republicans comply, they get the cooperation. If Republicans refuse, then Democrats can also refuse if they get subpoenaed. The committee is not worried about enforcement thru courts,” Lowell wrote on Twitter before adding that “it’s almost like a self-enforcing subpoena.”
Everyone is focused on whether the Jan. 6 committee will enforce the subpoenas in court if Republicans refuse to comply. That’s not the point. As one source told me yesterday: “It’s almost like a self-enforcing subpoena.”
— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) May 12, 2022
Meanwhile, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance called the move by the House committee a “win-win” whether Republicans appear or not.
During an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Katie Phang Show,” Vance stated their refusal to appear would hand investigators a powerful weapon for the June hearings that they wouldn’t have if they simply showed up and testified.
“Here is why, in some ways, the subpoena situation is a win-win for Democrats, whether the test they testify or not. They already have volumes of testimony from staff and others, they have tapes, they really know what was going on in large part. If these essential members of Congress refused to comply with the subpoenas, in the hearings, the committee will have the opportunity to tell the American public the story of what happened and to make the point that these witnesses refused to testify.”
“Katie, you know like I do, from trying criminal cases, in this setting, prosecutors are forbidden to mention that they refused to make a statement or to comment on a defendant’s failure to testify; the inference is so incriminating,” she explained. “If you have a legitimate story to tell, they would tell it.”
“In the congressional hearings, there is no restriction on what the interlocutors can tell the public,” Vance said. “They can comment on the fact that these five did not comply with the subpoenas as well as others. They can tell the people that they can draw negative inferences from that, and essentially it will come down to how powerfully the committee can use this failure by these members to convince the American people about the truth of their version of what happened on January 6.”
Watch the interview below: