The Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate wants his lawyer to be able to record the interview, a condition the committee is sure to reject.
Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano is threatening to pull out of a scheduled interview with the Jan. 6 select committee, teeing up a legal fight with the panel.
In a letter sent to the House committee on Aug. 5, Mastriano’s lawyer, Tim Parlatore, said the Republican would not testify unless Parlatore can record the session. The select panel is sure to reject that condition.
Parlatore said Mastriano “has legitimate concerns that your committee may attempt to influence the outcome of the Pennsylvania state elections through the dissemination of disinformation,” and that his move was to minimize the “risk of election interference.”
Mastriano is an ally of former President Donald Trump and supported his post-election efforts to contest the 2020 results in Pennsylvania. Trump and attorney Rudy Giuliani both later backed Mastriano in the competitive Republican gubernatorial primary.
The select committee subpoenaed him for documents and testimony on Feb. 15. Three months later, on May 17, he won the Republican primary. And just a few weeks after that, he produced a tranche of documents to the panel. At the time, Mastriano’s lawyer told POLITICO that he and the committee had agreed the candidate would sit for a voluntary interview instead of a compelled deposition.
But in the three months since then, the situation seems to have changed. Parlatore, the lawyer, opened his letter by noting that the committee is “now demanding” that Mastriano sit for a compelled deposition, rather than a voluntary interview.
He argued that the select panel cannot hold compelled depositions because the rules governing it require the involvement of a ranking member appointed by the minority party — and none of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s picks are seated. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is the vice chair of the panel, but she was appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Unlike other litigants, Parlatore didn’t argue that the committee was illegitimate or incapable of issuing lawful subpoenas. Rather, he specifically looked at the narrow and technical issue of whether depositions can begin given the committee’s composition. Other legal challenges to committee subpoenas have all failed.
Parlatore asserted in his letter that this same argument resulted in the committee agreeing to have another client of his, Giuliani ally Bernie Kerik, sit for a voluntary interview instead of a compelled deposition.
Parlatore charged the committee with “a demonstrated propensity for releasing edited clips of interviews without the requisite context to support a false partisan narrative,” and said he worried they could do the same to Mastriano. As a solution, he suggested that he also record the session himself and only release portions if the panel released clips “that require additional context, so as not to mislead the voters in Pennsylvania.”
Parlatore concluded the letter by raising the prospect of a legal fight.
“If we cannot agree on a reasonable arrangement for a voluntary interview, then we will have little choice but to go to court and litigate this issue,” he wrote.
Select committee investigators have said Mastriano participated in efforts to recruit so-called alternate electors in Pennsylvania who would commit to voting for Trump in the electoral college even though Biden won the state. Mastriano was also in the crowd outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 as the mob became increasingly violent and forced its way into the building.
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