Donald Trump heads to Texas for a rally on Saturday as some of his top GOP allies in Congress face subpoenas, and as former Vice President Mike Pence ramps up his political clash with the former president, joining other Republicans in backing rivals to Trump picks in the party’s primary races.
Trump plans to headline the American Freedom Tour event taking place in Austin from 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CT on Saturday. The rally, which will also feature former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump Jr., Trump Jr.’s fiancé Kimberly Guilfoyle and conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, among others, will be held at the Austin Convention Center.
Meanwhile, some of the former president’s most prominent GOP allies in Congress are weighing their next steps after they were subpoenaed Thursday to testify before the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack against the U.S. Capitol. Five GOP House lawmakers—including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania—received formal demands to appear before the House investigatory body.
“The Select Committee has learned that several of our colleagues have information relevant to our investigation into the attack on January 6th and the events leading up to it. Before we hold our hearings next month, we wished to provide members the opportunity to discuss these matters with the committee voluntarily,” Representative Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the select committee, said in a Thursday statement.
“Regrettably, the individuals receiving subpoenas today have refused and we’re forced to take this step to help ensure the committee uncovers facts concerning January 6th. We urge our colleagues to comply with the law, do their patriotic duty, and cooperate with our investigation as hundreds of other witnesses have done,” he said.
McCarthy slammed the subpoenas, which analysts and lawmakers have noted represent an unprecedented step taken by the House committee against fellow members of Congress.
“My view on the committee has not changed,” McCarthy said, Politico reported. “They’re not conducting a legitimate investigation. It seems as though they just want to go after their political opponents.”
Hundreds of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6 in an apparent effort to disrupt the formal certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. That violence occurred shortly after Trump spoke at a nearby rally, urging his followers to walk to the federal legislative building and “fight like hell.” Many heeded the directive, with some in the mob threatening to “hang” then Vice President Mike Pence, as well as harm other top lawmakers, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The crowd was largely animated by Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was “rigged” or “stolen.” Those claims have been thoroughly litigated and discredited, including by prominent GOP election officials across the country and the former president’s Attorney General William Barr, who was widely viewed as one of Trump’s most loyal Cabinet officials and made his determination after having the Justice Department probe the allegations.
The House select committee—which includes two Republicans, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois—aims to determine how the events of January 6, and Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election, were coordinated, as well as how the attack unfolded. Ten House Republicans, including Cheney and Kinzinger, along with House Democrats, voted to impeach Trump for inciting the violence a week after the riot occurred.
How McCarthy and the other Republicans respond to the subpoenas remains to be seen. It is unclear whether the House select committee will attempt to hold the GOP lawmakers in contempt of Congress if they refuse to comply.
Challenging Trump’s Endorsement
While Trump and his allies continue to feel the pressure from the January 6 investigation, the former president faces ongoing backlash from prominent Republicans amid the GOP midterm primary season. Thus far, the former president’s endorsements have largely panned out, with the candidates he has backed winning in high-profile contests in multiple states.
But Pence, who has increasingly shown a willingness to buck his relationship with Trump in the past several months, is now throwing his weight behind Georgia’s incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp. Trump maintains a public grudge against Kemp for his refusal to back efforts to overturn Biden’s narrow win his state. The former president has repeatedly attacked Kemp and thrown his support behind his top political rival, former Georgia GOP Senator David Perdue.
Despite Trump’s opposition to Kemp, Pence announced on Friday that he would hold a rally with the incumbent GOP governor on May 23, the day before the Georgia primary election. Trump responded to the news in an interview with Outside the Beltway with John Fredericks on Friday.
“Well, Mike is trying to get involved and he’s a very nice man. But he really let us all down. He just let us down,” the former president said. Trump has repeatedly criticized Pence for refusing to go along with his unconstitutional effort to overturn Biden’s election win. The former president and his allies wanted Pence to reject the electors of several key swing states as he presided over the congressional certification on January 6. Pence refused, saying he did not have the constitutional authority to do so.
Similarly, Pompeo, who will appear in Austin at the event with Trump, is also backing Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate candidate David McCormick, in opposition to the former president’s endorsed candidate, Dr. Mehmet Oz. Pompeo has ramped up criticism of Oz in recent weeks, raising what he described as “national security” concerns of electing the dual Turkish-American national to Congress. Oz’s campaign described such accusations as “xenophobic.”
Trump has knocked McCormick as a “liberal Wall Street Republican.” At a Pennsylvania rally earlier this month, Trump said of the GOP candidate, “If anybody was within 200 miles of me, he hired them… He did want my endorsement very badly, but I couldn’t do it.”
The former president’s endorsement of Oz has received substantial backlash from Pennsylvania Republicans as well as prominent conservatives nationwide. At the May rally in support of Oz, Trump faced boos from the crowd as some supporters also turned their backs when the television host and physician spoke to the crowd.
Regardless of the opposition from prominent Republicans, Trump’s endorsements have thus far been largely successful. The former president’s preferred candidates for House, Senate and governor have won 39 out of 40 total GOP primaries this year, according to FiveThirtyEight’s analysis. Whether that winning record will hold will be determined over the coming months.
Newsweek reached out to Trump’s spokesperson for comment.
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