House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) has withdrawn all five of his picks from the committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The decision comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) rejected two of his picks, citing a need to protect the “integrity” of the investigation of the deadly attack.
Pelosi nixed Representatives Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jim Banks (R-Indiana) from the committee on Wednesday. Both representatives had voted against certifying the election results in January directly after Donald Trump supporters attacked the Capitol. They were both also part of a Texas-led lawsuit to invalidate millions of votes from swing states to favor Trump, but was swiftly shot down by the Supreme Court.
“With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee,” Pelosi said in a statement, emphasizing the gravity of the attack and its ramifications.
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Despite the fact that Pelosi said she would accept McCarthy’s other picks of Rodney Davis (R-Illinois), Kelly Armstrong (R-North Dakota) and Troy Nehls (R-Texas), McCarthy wasn’t pleased.
In a statement, McCarthy called Pelosi’s decision an “egregious abuse of power and will irreparably damage this institution” and called the committee a “sham” even though it has been clear from the start that Pelosi had ultimate say over who was chosen. He said that, unless Pelosi capitulated to his demands and reinstated his picks, the GOP would pull out of the process.
Pelosi hasn’t responded to McCarthy’s move, and the future of the committee is unclear.
McCarthy’s picks for the committee were already causing concern, and showed that “He has zero interest in getting to the bottom of what really happened (and why) when the US Capitol was stormed by rioters convinced by former President Donald Trump that the 2020 election had been stolen from him,” wrote CNN’s Chris Cillizza.
Wednesday’s move to completely boycott the committee even further suggests that McCarthy was never interested in investigating the attack.
It’s possible, too, that gutting the committee is what he’s been angling for all along — after all, Republicans had already rejected a previous bipartisan commission proposal, and McCarthy had threatened Republican members’ committee spots if they joined that earlier version of the group. Plus, McCarthy is likely to be subpoenaed by the group for a phone call he had with Trump just as the mob was breaching the Capitol.
In picking Banks and Jordan, then, McCarthy must have known that he would be raising merited concerns with Pelosi. Especially since, almost immediately after their placement on the committee was made public, the two Republican lawmakers began making statements directly and baselessly implicating Pelosi in helping to prolong the attack on the Capitol.
Jordan suggested on Tuesday that Pelosi may have some responsibility for the magnitude of the attack and law enforcement’s failure to contain the crowd. “There’s one question that needs to be answered, and that’s why wasn’t there proper security presence that day. And that’s a question only the speaker can answer,” he told CNN, alluding to previous baseless allegations he’s made about Pelosi delaying the National Guard’s response to the attack.
Jordan is a close ally of Trump’s who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the former president in January for “[leading] the effort to confront the impeachment witch hunt.” Jordan had spearheaded the GOP attack on special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into election interference from Russia.
The Ohio lawmaker’s intentions for the committee were also suspect. When asked about his goal for the group, Jordan deflected and took the time to attack Democrats instead on Tuesday. “You know what this is about. This is about going after President Trump. The Democrats don’t want to talk about anything else.”
Banks also implied that Pelosi had something to do with the attack over Twitter on Wednesday, saying “The question that all of us should be asking: what is Speaker Pelosi afraid of?” Like Jordan, Banks also attacked Democrats in a statement about his participation in the committee on Monday night, shortly after the committee picks were announced.