Legal experts stumped over whether Jan. 6 committee can force GOP lawmakers to testify

·1 min read
Bennie Thompson.
Bennie Thompson. Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chair of the House's Jan. 6 select committee, told The Washington Post he's not reluctant to subpoena any member of Congress who resists voluntary cooperation if their testimony may be relevant to the panel's mission. In particular, it appears the committee is going to zero in on White House telephone and visitor logs to see if any GOP lawmakers made contact with the Trump administration during the Capitol riot.

But it's unclear if the committee can actually force any testimony. "I don't know what the precedent is, to be honest," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a committee member, told the Post. "Obviously we will have to look into all these questions."

Stanley Brand, an expert on congressional ethics investigations and former House counsel from 1976 to 1983, added that he doesn't "recall a case where members of Congress were subpoenaed to an oversight hearing," though he did say he thinks "somebody could formulate a theory that says you're duty bound to respond to a subpoena."

While legal experts are stumped about the committee's authority in this case, Loyola Law School's Jessica Levinson, suggested that's not necessarily a bad thing, since it means the country hasn't dealt with many insurrections throughout its history. "We've never been here before," she told the Post. "But if we had been here before, really, we're in deep trouble." Read more at The Washington Post.

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