House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has declined a request by House Jan. 6 committee to turn over documents and participate in an interview, saying he wouldn’t lend legitimacy to the partisan probe.
Mr. McCarthy said the Democratic-run committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was engaged in a partisan “abuse of power.”
“The committee’s only objective is to attempt to damage its political opponents — acting like the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee one day and the DOJ the next.,” Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, said in a statement.
The panel sent a letter to Mr. McCarthy on Wednesday seeking further information about his correspondence with former President Donald Trump leading up to and after the Capitol riot.
“As a representative and the leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded to not participate with this select committee’s abuse of power that stains this institution today and will harm it going forward,” Mr. McCarthy said in his response.
Mr. McCarthy is the third sitting member of Congress to receive a formal letter from the committee as the panel expands its focus on Trump-allies on Capitol Hill.
The committee addressed similar letters last month to Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania requesting their cooperation. Both declined the committee’s request.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson reiterated in all three letters that lawmakers’ cooperation would be voluntary.
The chairman of the select committee, Mr. Thompson, said in the letter to Mr. McCarthy that the minority leader has made several public statements indicating he was in communication with Mr. Trump and White House staff leading up to, during and after the riot.
“You have acknowledged speaking directly with the former President while the violence was underway on January 6th,” wrote Mr. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat.
Mr. McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Thompson cited an interview with CBS in which Mr. McCarthy told Norah O’Donnell: “I was very clear with the president when I called him. This has to stop and he has to go to the American public and tell them to stop this.”
Mr. Thompson also references notes recorded at a House Republican Conference meeting days after the Capitol attack in which Mr. McCarthy described his conversation with Mr. Trump.
The notes were taken by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Washington Republican.
“When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was Antifa that had breached the Capitol,” Ms. Herrera Beutler wrote, according to the committee. “McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’”
The committee is also seeking further information about Mr. McCarthy’s correspondence with Mr. Trump, White House legal staff and Mr. Jordan, regarding the Republican objections to electoral votes.
“The Select Committee is aware that, notwithstanding the unacceptable violence that day, you nevertheless agreed to support continued objections to the electoral votes from multiple states late in the evening of January 6th and into the morning of January 7th,” Mr. Thompson wrote.
Mr. Thompson alleged that Mr. McCarthy discussed with Mr. Trump potential congressional fallout after the riot in which a pro-Trump stormed the Capitol and attempted to stop Congress’ certification of President Biden’s election victory.
“It appears that you may also have discussed with President Trump the potential he would face a censure resolution, impeachment, or removal under the 25th Amendment,” Mr. Thompson said. “It also appears that you may have identified other possible options, including President Trump’s immediate resignation from office.”
In press briefing Thursday, Mr. McCarthy said he had nothing more to add to the panel’s probe beyond what he had already said publicly.
“There is nothing that I can provide the Jan. 6 committee for legislation that they’re moving forward,” he said. “It is pure politics.”
• This story is based in part on wire service reports.