By Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona, CNN
Updated: Fri, 13 May 2022 21:11:37 GMT
House Republicans, furious that five of their own have been subpoenaed by the January 6 select committee, are discussing their own plans to retaliate if they win back the majority: Issuing subpoenas to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats.
Several rank-and-file Republicans, likely committee chairmen and members of the party leadership, told CNN on Friday that the January 6 panel's subpoenas to House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and four other Republicans create a new standard they may ultimately choose to replicate in a potential GOP majority next Congress.
At the top of the list: Pelosi, whom Republicans say they plan to target over her communications regarding security matters in the run-up to January 6 and as the riot was unfolding in the Capitol.
"I'm gonna tell you the truth: Yes, I do," said Rep. Buddy Carter, a Georgia Republican, when asked if he believes Republicans should issue a subpoena to Pelosi. "This is setting the precedent, and we're just not gonna lie down and let this happen. There are serious questions about her role on January 6 and exactly what she did and what she didn't do. And we need to get to the bottom of that."
Several other Republicans said Friday there is broad support within the conference to go after Pelosi.
"I wouldn't be surprised if there's a subpoena there," said Rep. Brian Mast, a Florida Republican.
Pelosi fired back.
"I'm never afraid of precedent," the speaker told CNN on Friday. "We're seeking the truth, and we're not going to be cowards about it."
The back-and-forth is the latest indication of the poisonous relations that have dogged the chamber since the Capitol insurrection, with Democrats saying their probe is focused on getting to the roots of an attack against American democracy and Republicans eager to shift the blame away from former President Donald Trump and his supporters.
Since the attack, rank-and-file Democrats refuse to work with Republicans who voted to overturn the electoral results. The disdain between Pelosi and McCarthy is palpable. Tensions have bubbled up on the floor, including on Thursday when McCarthy and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer -- two men who typically maintain cordial relations -- engaged in a tense interaction.
"I was talking to him about seeing if we could fix this problem," Hoyer said, referring to an issue they had encountered on the floor. "And his comment was he had no intention of fixing any problems."
Moreover, Pelosi's hardball tactics in the majority -- such as taking unprecedented steps to boot two controversial Republicans from their committee assignments -- are sure to be replicated under a Speaker McCarthy, who has already vowed to strip the committee assignments of several prominent Democrats next year.
And now with the committee seeking information from five Republicans -- McCarthy, Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania -- about their conversations with Trump around the time of the Capitol attack, GOP lawmakers are indicating they won't be shy to respond in-kind.
Pelosi does not have oversight over the day-to-day operations of the Capitol Police, but Republicans have zeroed in on her role that day as they seek to build a counter narrative about the deadly attack on the Capitol caused by Trump supporters and the role that Trump played as well.
"Numerous independent fact checkers have confirmed that Speaker Pelosi did not plan her own assassination," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said Friday. "The former President's desperate lies aside, the speaker was no more in charge of the security of the U.S. Capitol that day than Mitch McConnell."
Yet Republicans say that Pelosi should be the focus going forward.
Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, whom Pelosi rejected as one of McCarthy's picks for the panel, said the select committee should subpoena the speaker for her testimony about the security preparations and failures on January 6.
"Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the only person in the United States who has covered anything up related to January 6. So that's who they should subpoena," Banks told reporters. "She should be at the top of the list."
Banks, who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee, declined to say whether Republicans should take that step if they're in power. "I'll defer to our leader on that," Banks said.
McCarthy refused to comment when asked about the matter several times on Friday.
Banks and Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, have been working behind the scenes on their own investigation focused squarely on the security failures on January 6. They have been trying to get their hands on emails from the House's Sergeant at Arms about the decision-making process leading up to that day, among other matters.
Davis has previously told CNN that if he becomes chairman, he would have no problem issuing subpoenas to get information for their probe, whether that's for documents or testimony. On Friday, Davis reiterated that the investigation would be his "focus in the majority," but dodged questions about whether he would use his subpoena power to target Pelosi.
"I would love to sit down and talk, but obviously, Speaker Pelosi and Chair (Zoe) Lofgren have determined they really don't value my opinion," Davis said. "Otherwise, this circus of a select committee would be much different."
A number of Democrats on Friday indicated they had no concern about Republicans taking a similar tactic if they regain power.
"They're going to act irresponsibly no matter what," said California Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the January 6 committee and a top McCarthy target.
Schiff added: "If the Republicans take the majority, I'm more worried they'll succeed where they failed before and overturn the election. They've shown no capacity to govern responsibly. So, subpoenas will be the least of anyone's concern if the party of Trump takes over."
And some Democrats said that if Republicans choose to ignore the January 6 panel's subpoenas, they would set their own precedent that Democrats could choose to follow.
"The question is what precedent are they going to set by their response to these subpoenas?" asked Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who sits on the panel.
Raskin added: "So people have asked: 'Does this set a precedent for the issuance of subpoenas for members of Congress in the future?' If there are coups and insurrections, I suppose that it does."