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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Thursday that he would be willing to testify before an independent commission investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection about his conversation with then-President Donald Trump as the attack on the Capitol unfolded.
“Sure, next question,” McCarthy told reporters outside the Capitol. The minority leader’s response was definitive but seemingly carried little political risk, as the prospects for final passage of a bill to establish such a bipartisan panel have grown increasingly imperiled this week.
The House voted on Wednesday to approve the legislation by Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.), with 35 Republicans joining Democrats in a rebuke to McCarthy — who announced his opposition to the measure on Tuesday and urged GOP lawmakers to do the same despite deputizing Katko to lead the House GOP’s negotiations with Thompson and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But the legislation’s success in the Senate is far from assured. Democrats in the chamber would require 10 Republican defections to break any potential filibuster and send the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday that he would not support the proposal and even some seven Senate Republicans who voted in February to convict Trump of inciting the insurrection remain undecided.
On Thursday, McCarthy was dismissive of the proposed Jan. 6 panel, saying: “I just think a Pelosi commission is a lot of politics.” He also argued it was not a conflict of interest for certain members of Congress to vote on the commission bill even though those members may be called to testify before the panel at a later date.
“No. Because who knows what they’re going to do on the commission? So no, I don’t think so,” he said. McCarthy would be a likely witness for an investigatory commission because he had a reportedly heated phone call with the then-president as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Their conversation could shed more light on Trump’s state of mind amid the attack and reveal further information about the White House response.