The Office of Congressional Ethics should investigate whether House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene violated House rules by threatening to retaliate against companies that comply with legal requests for documents from the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The Select Committee recently issued document demands to 15 social media and telecommunications companies and requested that 35 companies preserve phone records and other information regarding the January 6 attack. In response, McCarthy issued a statement threatening that “a Republican majority will not forget” and will hold the companies “fully accountable under the law” if they comply with the requests. Greene stated in a television interview that if the companies “go along with this, they will be shut down and that’s a promise.”
“On January 6, we saw the gravest domestic attack on our democracy since the Civil War,” CREW President Noah Bookbinder said. “Blatant obstruction of the investigation could leave our nation even more vulnerable to a future attack.”
House rules require members to uphold the laws of the United States and to conduct themselves at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House. The threats of McCarthy and Greene do neither. Threatening retaliation for complying with legally valid document demands and preservation requests appears to violate 18 U.S.C. § 1505, which prohibits obstructing congressional investigations, and does not reflect creditably on the House.
“McCarthy and Greene are transparently trying to thwart the Select Committee by illegally threatening companies with reprisals if they comply with the committee’s proper and lawful requests—quite possibly to protect themselves,” Bookbinder said. “This dangerous and unprecedented conduct must not be allowed to stand. OCE should investigate immediately.”
Yesterday, it was reported that McCarthy is among the lawmakers whose phone records the Select Committee is interested in, leading to speculation that this is an attempt to prevent damning information about himself from coming out. It had previously been reported that the requests covered Greene’s phone records.