Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano is suing the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, seeking to block the panel from enforcing its subpoena for his testimony.
Mastriano was outside of the Capitol on January 6 and had helped organize efforts in Pennsylvania to overturn the 2020 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.
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 chair 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.”
The select 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.
“He’s not trying to hide the information,” Parlatore told abc27’s Dennis Owens. “He just wants to be able to present it in a way that his rights are protected.”
Mastriano in June 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.”
Mastriano briefly sat down with the committee in early August before abruptly ending his interview after about 15 minutes
Committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson issued the subpoena for Mastriano back in February as the panel intensified its probe of the “fake electors” scheme, seeking documentation from him and others potentially involved and in close contact with Trump.
The committee “is seeking information about efforts to send false slates of electors to Washington and change the outcome of the 2020 election,” Thompson wrote. “We’re seeking records and testimony from former campaign officials and other individuals in various states who we believe have relevant information about the planning and implementation of those plans.”
Mastriano, who organized two buses from central Pennsylvania for the Trump speech that preceded the violent siege and himself had VIP seating at the rally, walked to the Capitol afterward. He had been scheduled to speak on the Capitol steps that afternoon.
The lawsuit comes two days before Mastriano is set to join former President Trump for a rally in Scranton on Saturday. Mastriano has trailed Democrat Josh Shapiro in recent polling, some of which have shown Shapiro leading by double digits.
The latest poll from Emerson College Polling shows Shapiro, the Democrat Party nominee, with 47% to Mastriano’s 44%. Six percent were undecided and three percent said they would support a third party.