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Monday, December 09, 2019

Rep. Ronny Jackson

The House Select Committee on January 6, which is investigating a pro-Trump mob’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, has sent letters requesting interviews with three Republican members of Congress linked to President Trump’s efforts the overturn the 2020 elections.

The House panel is seeking interviews next week with three GOP members of Congress who brainstormed ways to hinder the electoral certification of Joe Biden’s win — Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Ronny Jackson (R-TX) — as it heads toward public hearings next month.

“The Select Committee’s purpose is to make informed legislative recommendations taking account of all relevant facts, to protect our Constitution and the peaceful transfer of power,” Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) and Liz Cheney (R-WY), chair and vice-chair of the house panel, said in the letters. “Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.”

Thompson said the House panel wanted to interview the Republican House representatives to aid its inquiry into the insurrection, which it will detail in a report due in September, according to the Guardian.

The House panel opted for invitations to appear voluntarily for interviews over subpoenas to compel testimony because the latter could result in a drawn-out legal skirmish. At the same time, the former could yield some information crucial to its investigation.

All three Republican lawmakers have declined the invitation, issuing scathing statements labeling the panel’s investigation as illegitimate.

In its letter to Jackson, the House panel said it wanted to know all about the lawmaker's ties to a far-right extremist group, the Oath Keepers, citing “encrypted messages asking members of the organization to provide you personally with security assistance.” One of these messages purportedly suggested that Jackson had “critical data to protect,” according to the Washington Post.

“Dr. Ronnie Jackson — on the move. Needs protection. If anyone inside [can] cover him. He has critical data to protect,” an unidentified individual wrote in a text message on January 6, 2021, one in a trove of messages unveiled in recent legal proceedings against the group.

“Help with what? Give him my cell,” replied Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of Oath Keepers.

Jackson assailed the select committee in a statement, calling the panel “illegitimate” and saying he wouldn't be a party to its “ruthless crusade against President Trump and his allies.”

“I do not know, nor did I have contact with, those who exchanged text messages about me on January 6,” Jackson said. “In fact, I was proud to help defend the House Floor from those who posed a threat to my colleagues. The Committee’s witch hunt against me is nothing more than a coordinated attempt to do the media’s work on the taxpayers’ dime.”

The House panel informed Biggs, in its letter, that it had obtained text messages that indicated the congressman from Arizona sought to persuade state officials that the 2020 election was stolen.

The panel also said that it had obtained information “from former White House personnel” that named Biggs as a part of efforts by “certain Republicans after January 6” to seek a presidential pardon from then-President Trump for their roles in a coordinated Republican effort to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.

On Monday afternoon, Biggs, the former head of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, released a statement refusing to partake in the House panel’s investigation. He called the committee “a sham” and denounced its investigation as “illegitimate and Democrat-sympathizing.”

“At one time, I would have voluntarily testified before the Nancy Pelosi witch hunt committee provided the testimony was in public, the questioners were congressmen, and the questions were limited to events related to January 6. But that time has long passed,” Biggs said, assailing the House panel’s investigation into the insurrection at the Capitol.

Biggs also called on House GOP leaders to remove Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) from the January 6 committee, but the leaders don’t have the power to do so.

“These two are trying to divide and burn the Republican Party. The American people and the party deserve better,” Biggs said of Cheney and Kinzinger.

The House panel told Brooks in its letter that a recent interview of his was “directly relevant to the subject of our inquiry, and it appears to provide additional evidence of President Trump’s intent to restore himself to power through unlawful means.”

The interview in question was with WIAT, a Birmingham-based TV station, last month, during which Brooks repeatedly claimed that Trump asked him to “rescind the 2020 election.”

"The President has asked me to rescind the election of 2020," Brooks said. "He always brings up, 'we've got to rescind the election. We got to take Joe Biden down and put me in now'."

Brooks attacked the House panel on Twitter, informing the bipartisan body that it’ll take a subpoena to get any information out of him.

“I wouldn’t help Nancy Pelosi and Liz Cheney cross the street. I’m certainly not going to help them and their Witch Hunt Committee," Brooks gloated in his tweet. "If they want to talk, they can send me a subpoena.”

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