The Lead

Mastriano sues Jan. 6 committee claiming it can’t compel him to testify

By: - September 2, 2022 2:58 pm

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin (R) and former state Rep. Rick Saccone at the U.S. Capitol on 1/6/21 (Facebook photo)

The U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol doesn’t have the authority to compel Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano to testify, Mastriano claims in a lawsuit.

The suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claims the select committee is not properly constituted with a ranking minority member and is unable to comply with U.S. House deposition rules.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., chose Rep. Elizabeth Cheney, R-Wyoming, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, which the suit describes as “nominal Republicans,” as minority members of the committee. Because they were not selected by the process set forth in Republican conference rules, neither can serve as a ranking member, Mastriano claims.

“These two members were chosen by the Democrats because … both follow ideologies that are inconsistent with their own party, instead choosing to pursue the priorities of the Democratic Caucus,” the suit says.

Under House deposition rules, the ranking minority member must be consulted before a committee can issue a subpoena compelling a witness to appear for a deposition, the suit claims.

However, the term “ranking member” is not formally defined, the suit claims, asserting that the question must be reviewed by a federal judge.

Mastriano, an ally of former President Donald Trump, attended the “Save America” rally the morning before Trump supporters stormed and broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 in an attempt to stop the counting of Electoral College ballots in Congress. Although the count was halted and the House and Senate were evacuated, it was completed later that evening. 

Mastriano denied engaging in violence or crossing police lines, but video later emerged that appears to show him and his wife closer to barricades than he claimed. 

In a statement, the committee said Mastriano was involved in a plan to arrange for an “alternate slate of electors” and reportedly spoke with Trump about “post-election activities.” It cited a tweet by Mastriano, who said he was advocating for the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Legislature to appoint Electoral College delegates.

In June, Mastriano agreed to an interview and shared documents with the committee. His lawyer Tim Parlatore, a New York white-collar criminal defense attorney, said Mastriano has nothing to hide and agreed to a voluntary interview because the committee had agreed to forgo  a formal deposition.

When Mastriano was interviewed last month, he ended the session in less than 15 minutes without answering questions.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Peter Hall
Peter Hall

Peter Hall has been a journalist in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 20 years, most recently covering criminal justice and legal affairs for The Morning Call in Allentown. His career at local newspapers and legal business publications has taken him from school board meetings to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and many points of interest between. He earned a degree in journalism from Susquehanna University.