Jayapal asks the two groups to “thoroughly investigate” the activity of the three members of Congress — Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Paul Gosar of Arizona — in the time leading up to the insurrection and refer all potential criminal wrongdoing to the Department of Justice.
“It’s clear what I believe to be clear violation of our ethical standards and our responsibilities as members of Congress. That is what the House Ethics Committee can look at,” Jaypal said in an interview with CNN. “But I also think that there are other pieces here that are even beyond just service in the House that are federal statutes. And so that’s why we asked for the referrals to the Department of Justice.”
All three Republican members have all denied responsibility for instigating the riot.
“Rep. Jaypal needs to spend more time investigating the insurrection that took place in her own district over the summer and less time trying to connect me to the attack on our Capitol that I have repeatedly condemned,” said Rep. Boebert in a statement to CNN. Separately, in a tweet on January 18, Boebert wrote, “All claims of my involvement with the attacks on January 6th are categorically false. These lies are irresponsible and dangerous.”
Brooks, for instance, previously released a lengthy statement explaining what the purpose of his speech was on the day of the rally. He claims it was about fighting at the ballot box, not aimed at provoking actual violence.
In a tweet on January 18, Boebert wrote “All claims of my involvement with the attacks on January 6th are categorically false. These lies are irresponsible and dangerous.”
Gosar’s denials have been less clear. In a tweet on that day he posted a photo of rioters scaling a wall of the Capitol “let’s not get carried away.” He also did encourage those approaching the Capitol to “come back.” However in subsequent posts on the defunct social media platform Parler he referenced the rioters and said “Americans are upset.”
In the days following the deadly insurrection, Democrats were quick to point fingers at some their Republican colleagues for their close association with former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen. Their criticism ranged from accusing their colleagues of playing an indirect role in contributing to the violence to others claiming that they could be criminally responsible. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a New Jersey Democrat, claimed that unnamed Republican members were giving “reconnaissance” tours to potential insurrectionists the day before.
Federal authorities have said they are investigating the possibility that some of those that participated in the riot may have been given tours ahead of time, but have stopped short of saying any lawmakers did so with the express purpose of helping the rioters prepare to attack the Capitol.
While investigations into the January 6 continue, Jayapal fears her Republican colleagues have not been held accountable for the role they played.
“These three members seem to be emboldened by the fact that there hasn’t been really any accountability for them. There hasn’t been any accountability at all,” she said. “And that is unacceptable I think and that’s why I’m asking for these investigations.”
Federal investigators are currently examining records of communication between members of Congress and some of the suspects involved in the riot on January 6. One official told CNN last week that no members of Congress are considered targets of their probe, but should probable cause be discovered that could lead to warrants to learn more about what was in that communication.
According to Jayapal, the Office of Congressional Ethics, which is an independent nonpartisan panel, will conduct a review of her claim and has thirty days to see if cause exists for full-fledged investigation. If that investigation draws a conclusion that a substantial reason to believe wrongdoing occurred they will submit a recommendation to the House Committee on Ethics which will decide on a course of action. Separately, Jayapal is also directly asking the Committee, which is made of members of Congress, to conduct its own investigation. Both the Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Committee on Ethics do not comment on pending investigations.
Jayapal said that part of her motivation to seek these investigations is the continued unease by many members about their own personal safety within the halls of Congress. The House Chamber currently has metal detectors stationed outside each entrance and the security posture throughout the Capitol Campus remains intense with razor wire adorned fencing patrolled by thousands of National Guard troops.
Part of her worry is that the threat to her security may come from her fellow member of Congress.
“I still worry about my safety and my security when I’m inside Congress, not just when I leave,” Jaypal said. “And that is very troubling. I’ve only been here for four years, but I’ve not felt that before. And, and I feel it from my colleagues. I don’t know, who my colleagues are engaging with, I don’t know what their role was. And I do think that that is part of the reason these letters are so important.”
Jayapal is not the only Democrat looking into the role her colleagues may have played in the events leading up to January 6th. Rep. Zoe Lofgren recently released a 2,000-page report that outlined the social media activity of several GOP members ahead of the insurrection.
This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.