Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano is suing the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, seeking to block the panel from enforcing its subpoena for his testimony.
The suit makes a familiar argument that has largely been rejected by courts, asserting the committee has no authority to compel testimony given its construction with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) serving as its vice chairwoman rather than a leadership-appointed ranking member.
“Because the Select Committee has absolutely no authority to conduct compelled depositions, plaintiff was willing to sit for a voluntary interview,” Mastriano’s attorney Timothy Parlatore wrote in the filing.
“However, because plaintiff is currently the Republican nominee for governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he asked the committee to agree to certain prophylactic measures that would ensure that his participation would not run the risk of improperly influencing the Pennsylvania state election. Unfortunately, the committee refused to negotiate any terms of a voluntary interview that would prevent them from improperly influencing the election, thus necessitating this litigation.”
Trump-aligned Mastriano is challenging Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) in a quest to lead the Keystone State.
The House committee subpoenaed the Pennsylvania state lawmaker in February, citing his involvement in a plan to send alternate slates of electors on Jan. 6, 2021, in order to swing the 2020 election for former President Trump.
In June, Mastriano said he would sit for an interview with the committee and released documents he had shared with the panel. But it was more limited than what the committee asked for, with Parlatore saying they needed guardrails to avoid information “related to official actions that you took as an elected lawmaker.”
Representatives for the Jan. 6 committee did not immediately respond to request for comment.
The filing offers new details about Mastriano’s Aug. 9 meeting with the committee, one his team previously acknowledged lasted roughly 15 minutes.
Mastriano appeared to ask for “some form of protection against the committee releasing edited and misleading clips of his interview,” but the night before the deposition, the panel indicated the very claims the candidate laid out in the suit filed Thursday would not suffice for seeking to avoid a formal deposition.
According to Mastriano’s filing, things got heated when his attorney “asked whether the Chairman had issued the subpoena or if a staffer had instead issued it using an autopen” in an attempt to challenge the validity of the subpoena.
“The Committee representatives became upset and refused to answer, thus increasing suspicions that Chairman Thompson did not issue the subpoena or the letter,” the filing says.
The suit asks the judge to declare Mastriano faces no obligation to comply with the subpoena and force the committee to cover his legal fees.
Though Parlatore contends his suit examines a more narrow legal question about the committee’s subpoena, others who have filed similar suits have failed to convince the courts they should not have to comply with the committee’s subpoenas.
Updated at 6:23 p.m.