Subpoenaed GOP lawmakers face risk of criminal contempt

Source: The Hill | May 14, 2022 | Mike Lillis

The congressional panel investigating last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol is leaving open all enforcement options — including criminal contempt — for subpoenaed GOP lawmakers who refuse to cooperate in the probe.

The select committee has already held two former Trump administration officials in criminal contempt — former advisor Stephen Bannon and former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows — for spurning the panel’s formal summons to testify.

One day after the committee issued similar subpoenas to five sitting House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), top members of the investigative panel said those lawmakers would enjoy no special immunities just because they currently serve on Capitol Hill.

“Members of Congress are citizens of the United States, so it would be the same options that are available to us generally,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a former professor of constitutional law, said Friday when asked about the potential repercussions of noncompliance.

If there were any questions about whether criminal contempt is among those options, Raskin quickly put them to rest. In fact, he said, sitting lawmakers could face even greater disciplinary measures than other recalcitrant witnesses, given that House members are also subject to chamber ethics rules.

“We have all of the options that would be available to us, or someone like Steve Bannon or Mark Meadows,” he said, “and then additional options because they’re members of Congress.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the select committee, said he’s holding out hope that the subpoenaed Republicans will have a change of heart and cooperate in the probe. But echoing Raskin, he said the panel isn’t ruling out any enforcement tools if they refuse.

“There are options. Obviously, we could make a referral to Ethics,” Thompson said, referring to the House Ethics Committee. “We’ll discuss it. But look, all we’re saying is these are members of Congress who’ve taken an oath.”


Despite the rhetorical defiance, however, none of the five Republicans has said they would refuse to comply with the subpoena. Several of the GOP lawmakers have said they simply haven’t seen it — an argument challenged by Thompson, who said he had signed each one.

“My understanding is they were served,” Thompson said.


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