September 1, 2022

Doug Mastriano, the GOP nominee for Pa. governor, sues Jan. 6 committee

Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, sued the House Jan. 6 committee Thursday to avoid testifying.

In a 21-page complaint, first reported by Politico, Mastriano’s lawyer, Timothy C. Parlatore, argued that the committee’s “improper makeup” could “improperly influence the midterm elections.” The committee includes two Republican members who were chosen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., not by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who refused to appoint any Republicans to the committee after Pelosi rejected two of his five initial picks.

Mastriano is asking for a judge to rule that he not be compelled to sit for a deposition and that the panel pay his attorneys’ fees.

The committee sent Mastriano a subpoena in February, saying it was seeking information related to Mastriano’s involvement in an “alternate” electors scheme after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election.

Mastriano’s lawsuit argued that the House’s deposition regulations served as guardrails to “prevent one party from using deposition excerpts to spread disinformation,” arguing that edited clips from recorded interviews could be used to “improperly influence the midterm elections.”

Although courts have previously ruled that the panel has the power to issue subpoenas, Parlatore wrote, “no Court has ever examined the issue of whether this particular Committee is able to comply with the Deposition Regulations which explicitly require certain actions to be taken by the Ranking Minority Member.”

Parlatore described the two Republicans on the panel, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, as nominal members of the Republican Party who “follow ideologies that are inconsistent with their own party, instead choosing to pursue the priorities of the Democratic Caucus.”

Mastriano’s lawyer said in June that he had provided documents to the committee and had agreed to sit for a voluntary interview, which Mastriano’s lawyer wanted to record. The committee rejected the request, the suit says.

“This demonstrates Committee’s intent to retain sole dominion over the information elicited during any interview, and more importantly, how any of Plaintiff’s statements are disseminated to the American people, notably during election season,” Parlatore said.

Mastriano’s counsel said he appeared with Mastriano for his scheduled deposition on Aug. 9 and asked questions about the committee’s adherence to deposition regulations, but the pair left when a representative from the committee began to ask Mastriano questions before he had been sworn in.

The Jan. 6 committee on Thursday requested testimony from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, another Trump ally, over his involvement in efforts to spread misinformation about the 2020 election.

NBC News has asked a committee spokesperson for comment.

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