Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano is suing the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection in an effort to block the panel from compelling him to sit for a sworn deposition, according to a complaint filed in US District Court Thursday and additional documents obtained by CNN.
In the complaint, Mastriano argues that the committee does not have the authority to compel his deposition, or that of any other witness that does not wish to be deposed.
“Because the Select Committee has absolutely no authority to conduct compelled depositions, Plaintiff was willing to sit for a voluntary interview,” the complaint states. “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 complaint adds.
Mastriano’s virtual appearance earlier this month before the January 6 committee only lasted about 15 minutes and “he didn’t answer a single question,” a source familiar with the matter previously told CNN.
His attorney cut off the virtual appearance soon after it began, the source said. Mastriano’s lawyer, Tim Parlatore, took issue with several procedural matters related to the deposition, and raised questions about the legality of the subpoena that Mastriano received from the panel, the source added at the time.
“We were there for 15 minutes. It was clear that the committee was unable to comply with the regulations regarding use of deposition authority and moreover has no interest in complying with the regulations,” Parlatore said. “We’re happy to provide the information if they can either do it fairly and legally or if we can reach a resolution on how to do a voluntary interview which minimizes the risk of election interference.”
Mastriano was a central player supporting former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Mastriano was also among the mob of Trump supporters on Capitol grounds on January 6, 2021, during the insurrection, though he didn’t go into the Capitol itself and hasn’t been charged with any crimes.
CNN previously reported that Mastriano’s appearance was expected to be brief and unproductive because Mastriano’s camp and the committee were at an impasse over issues like whether he could independently videotape or record his appearance.