In his statement later that day, Mr. McCarthy accused the committee of abuse of power, complaining that it “wants to interview me about public statements shared with the world, and private conversations not remotely related to the violence unfolding on the capital.”
Key figures in the January 6 survey
“I have nothing more to add,” he said.
It is extremely rare for lawmakers to face subpoenas related to their official activities, but the law does not raise a clear barrier, several legal specialists said.
The Constitution’s so-called speech or debate clause, intended to protect the independence of the legislature, says senators and representatives “will not be questioned anywhere else” about a speech or debate in either chamber, and is broadly interpreted to cover all legislative actions, not just words. On the surface, however, that clause is limited to questioning them in “other” places, such as courtrooms.
“The speech or debate clause is about being questioned elsewhere, and the House says here that ‘the facts are under the control of one of us, and we need him to share them with us,'” Michael said. Davidson, a longtime former legal counsel to the Senate with a bipartisan majority.
There is also precedent for the House to subpoena its own members in a narrow context. The House Ethics Committee, which is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct by members, has the power under the House rules to subpoena members for testimony or documents, and members are required to comply.
The commission rarely makes its work public, so it’s not clear how often it has issued such subpoenas; lawmakers confronted with ethical questions often cooperate voluntarily or resign. Still, there is at least one public example of a lawmaker fighting — and losing — a subpoena from the Senate Ethics Committee.
In 1993, Oregon Republican Senator Bob Packwood was faced with an investigation into allegations that he had sexually harassed numerous female employees, and the ethics committee ordered him to turn over certain pages of his personal diary. He resisted, arguing that the request was too broad and violated his rights.