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McCarthy under fire for threatening telecom companies that comply with insurrection probe

‘A Republican majority will not forget,’ warned House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

By Emily Singer - September 01, 2021
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Kevin McCarthy

Legal experts and Democratic lawmakers are criticizing a statement issued on Twitter Tuesday night by the official account of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy threatened retribution against telecommunication companies that comply with requests for phone records from the House select committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The bipartisan committee on Monday asked telecommunication companies to preserve phone records from a number of Donald Trump-supporting GOP House members who spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally that whipped up Trump supporters with lies about voter fraud before they marched to the Capitol on Jan. 6 and rioted. It asked them to preserve records for Trump and his family members as well.

In the statement, McCarthy claimed, “If these companies comply with the Democrat order to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States. If companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law.”

Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst, tweeted in response to McCarthy’s statement, “This is nonsense. A subpoena is not ‘strong-arming’ and there’s no violation of federal law when companies comply.”

“McCarthy’s threat against telecom companies who lawfully produce documents is shocking,” Norm Eisen, an ethics lawyer and fellow at the Brookings Institution, said. “It’s like a gangster saying, ‘Gee, nice telecom company you’ve got here. It would be a shame if anything happened to it.'”

MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner echoed those sentiments.

And MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner tweeted, “And this is precisely what happens when our law enforcement authorities refuse to TIMELY hold criminal politicians accountable. It encourages further crime — like McCarthy criminally obstructing a congressional proceeding. Hey DOJ – start enforcing the d@mn law!”

Democratic lawmakers criticized McCarthy’s threats as well.

“The House republican leader is openly calling on companies to obstruct justice to stop a probe of the January 6 attack on the Capitol,” Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey tweeted. “Obstruction of justice is a felony.”

Rep. Ted Lieu of California tweeted, “18 U.S. Code § 1505: ‘Whoever…by any threatening letter or communication…endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede…the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any…investigation is being had by either House…Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned… .'”

McCarthy wasn’t the only GOP lawmaker to threaten telecommunication companies.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, one of the lawmakers whose phone records the committee is seeking, said during a Tuesday night appearance on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show, “These telecommunications companies, if they go along with this, they will be shut down. And that’s a promise.”

The bipartisan committee to probe the Jan. 6 attack said in response to McCarthy’s threat, “The committee’s efforts won’t be deterred by those who want to whitewash or cover up the events of January 6th, or obstruct our investigation.”

McCarthy has been against the House committee since Democrats in the House announced they were forming it. They resorted to the select committee structure to probe the attack after House Republicans blocked the formation of a bipartisan independent outside body to investigate the insurrection.

This is not the first threat McCarthy has made regarding the committee.

In July, McCarthy threatened to punish any GOP lawmaker who accepted a spot on the committee from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) ignored McCarthy’s threat and accepted Pelosi’s invitation to serve.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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