U.S. Capitol riot committee asks former Speaker Gingrich to testify

Newt Gingrich speaks to the media as he departs after a meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol asked former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Thursday to provide it with information about what it called his efforts to promote false claims about the 2020 presidential election.

There was no immediate response to a request for comment from Gingrich via his Virginia-based company's website.

In a letter to Gingrich, Representative Bennie Thompson, the Democratic-led Select Committee's chairman, said information the panel had obtained included email messages Gingrich exchanged with senior advisers to former President Donald Trump in which he provided "detailed input" into television advertisements.

"These advertising efforts were not designed to encourage voting for a particular candidate. Instead, these efforts attempted to cast doubt on the outcome of the election after voting had already taken place," Thompson said in the letter.

It said Gingrich pushed messages designed to incite anger among voters. Thompson also said the committee had obtained information suggesting Gingrich was involved in a scheme to replace state electors with handpicked candidates who would act to keep Trump in power despite his election defeat.

The committee asked that Gingrich appear for a voluntary, transcribed interview with Gingrich during the week of Sept. 19. It also asked him to preserve all records of any communications he might have had with the White House, Trump, Trump's legal team or anyone involved in the events of Jan. 6.

On Jan. 6, 2021, thousands of supporters of Trump, a Republican, stormed the Capitol building, encouraged by the then-president in a speech outside the White House to protest formal congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden's victory in the November 2020 election.

Trump has refused to concede that he lost the election, instead repeating unfounded allegations that Biden's victory was the result of electoral fraud.

The committee is trying to establish what Trump did while thousands of his supporters attacked police, vandalized the Capitol and sent members of Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence running for their lives.

Gingrich has long been an influential figure in U.S. Republican politics, including running for president. His wife, Callista Gingrich, served as ambassador to the Vatican during Trump's presidency.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle in WashingtonEditing by Mark Porter and Matthew Lewis)