WASHINGTON — A ranking House Republican is formally asking the Justice Department to broaden its investigation to include President Trump’s conduct during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol when members of Congress and others were reportedly pleading for him to deploy the National Guard and take other steps to quell the riot.
“I would go beyond the article filed by the Democrats and [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi,” Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas said on the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast. “I’m interested in what actions were taken after the Capitol was breached. Once the president knew that the Capitol was under siege and really being invaded by domestic terrorists, what actions did the president specifically take to remedy what happened?
“If it was al-Qaida attacking the Capitol, my God, I would think the president would pull out all the stops to ensure the National Guard was fully deployed and would stop this breach and this invasion of the Capitol.”
McCaul is a former federal prosecutor who previously served as chair of the House Homeland Security Committee and is now the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He said he will send a letter to the Justice Department as early as Monday requesting that the ongoing investigation into the events of Jan. 6 be widened to specifically include the actions and responses of the president and other senior officials. A Justice Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
So far, there have been conflicting and incomplete reports about the delay in deploying National Guard troops that day. The Washington Post has reported that then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who has since resigned, made at least five urgent pleas for National Guard troops that afternoon but was first denied by a top aide to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller later verbally authorized the deployment, according to the paper, although the first National Guard troops didn’t arrive at the Capitol until 5:40 p.m., after the worst of the violence was over. President Trump in a video that day claimed he “immediately deployed” the National Guard troops that afternoon. But the New York Times has reported that Trump initially rebuffed the request, and it was Vice President Mike Pence who authorized the deployment.
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McCaul, in the interview, added potentially new details. “There are some material fact witnesses in the White House, but also in Congress,” he said. “We had members of Congress on the phone with the president telling him, ‘Please tell these people to stop and please deploy the National Guard as soon as possible.’”
McCaul, who represents a Texas district that stretches from the Austin to Houston suburbs, has walked a political tightrope on the issues surrounding Trump and the election. Although a Trump supporter, he forcefully denounced the effort by many of his fellow Republicans to reject the certification of the Electoral College vote, insisting — as he repeated during the “Skullduggery” interview — that Congress had no constitutional authority to do so. Yet, after deliberating until nearly the last minute, he voted against impeaching the president, saying he was uncomfortable with what he viewed as a rush to judgment with no hearings or testimony before the House.
Yet McCaul says the stakes are so high that he still wants a full investigation of everything that happened that day, both by the Justice Department and Congress. And, he says, he’s open to the idea that he may have been wrong in his vote. “My greatest fear is evidence will come out that will shed light on what happened and may change my thinking on impeachment,” he said.
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