A watchdog group has filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia warned of consequences for telecommunication companies that comply with subpoenas issued by the Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6. attack on the U.S. Capitol building seeking internet and phone records.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked OCE on Friday to investigate whether either Republican member of Congress recently violated House rules by threatening retaliation.
“Minority Leader McCarthy and Rep. Greene are transparently trying to thwart the Select Committee by illegally threatening telecommunications, email and social media companies with reprisals if they comply with the committee‘s proper and lawful documents demands and retention requests,” CREW President Noah Bookbinder wrote in the 6-page complaint requesting OCE conduct an ethics investigation.
“Blatant obstruction of the House’s ability to investigate this attack on our democracy, if left unaddressed, would gut Congress‘s core oversight powers and leave our country still more vulnerable to future attack,” Mr. Bookbinder added. “This dangerous and unprecedented conduct must not be allowed to stand. The OCE should therefore commence an immediate investigation into this conduct, and forward this matter to the House Ethics Committee for appropriate action.”
Spokespersons for Mr. McCarthy and Mrs. Greene did not immediately answer requests for comment sent over the weekend.
Created by House vote, the bipartisan Select Committee was established to investigate the “facts, circumstances and causes” related to the rioting that erupted in and around the Capitol building on Jan. 6.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat chairing the Select Committee, recently demanded records and other information related to the riot from various internet and telecom providers, among others.
Several news outlets subsequently reported that the Select Committee also told 35 private companies to preserve related records, including some apparently involving numerous Republican members of Congress.
“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,” Mr. McCarthy said in response Monday.
“[T]hese cell phone companies, these telecommunications companies, they better not play with these Democrats because Republicans are coming back into the majority in 2022 and we will take this very serious,” Mrs. Greene echoed during a TV interview that same day, as quoted by CREW. “[T]hese telecommunications companies, if they go along with this they will be shut down and that’s a promise.”
CREW alleges McCarthy and Mrs. Greene each made “threats or retaliation,” reflecting poorly on the House and potentially violating U.S. federal law prohibiting the obstruction of congressional probes.
“Their threats were even more corrupt because they appear to be intended to improperly and unlawfully deny the Select Committee information about members of their party and quite possibly themselves,” CREW‘s president noted.
Indeed, several outlets have reported that Mrs. Greene is among the members of Congress whose private records have been ordered to be preserved by the Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot.
“This Democrat witch hunt against me is just a preview of the communist agenda they plan to unleash on you and anyone who opposes them,” Mrs. Greene said in a TV interview Friday.
• Andrew Blake can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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