Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have been hit with a new federal ethics complaint in connection to their threats against certain companies that the House committee investigating the Capitol riot recently asked to preserve records. The complaint was filed with the federal entity known as Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) by the government watchdog group known as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and the organization notes that Greene and McCarthy’s threats appear to violate federal prohibitions against obstructing a Congressional investigation. Relatedly, House rules demand that members act in such a way “that reflects creditably on the House,” CREW notes, and McCarthy and Greene’s antics do no such thing.
Originally, McCarthy threateningly insisted that “a Republican majority will not forget” if the targeted telecommunications companies comply with the riot investigation committee’s request to preserve certain records. Similarly, Greene claimed that if those companies “go along with this, they will be shut down and that’s a promise.” (It’s certainly unclear that Congress even has the authority to “shut down” telecommunications companies for complying with the orderly requests of a Congressional committee.) Greene’s phone records are among those at issue, and this week, CREW notes that “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.”
As a press release from CREW summarized it, “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.” Self-interest isn’t a legally valid excuse for breaking federal laws. CREW President Noah Bookbinder commented as follows:
‘On January 6, we saw the gravest domestic attack on our democracy since the Civil War. Blatant obstruction of the investigation could leave our nation even more vulnerable to a future attack… 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. This dangerous and unprecedented conduct must not be allowed to stand. OCE should investigate immediately.’
McCarthy and Greene are of interest to the riot investigation committee because of their general proximity to Trump in relation to the Capitol violence. McCarthy spoke with Trump on the day of the violence, while Greene was, besides her own connections with Trump, a promoter of the lies about the integrity of last year’s election that inspired the riot. Other members of Congress whose communication records have been reported to be of interest to the riot investigation committee include Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).