WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was OK with Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois as a Republican pick for the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, but she rejected on Wednesday two ardent Trumpists House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wanted on the panel, prompting him to say he will pull out and run his own GOP probe.
The two members Pelosi would not accept on the 13-member select committee were Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind.
The bombastic Jordan, one of Trump’s strongest defenders, may well be a witness who could testify about former President Donald Trump and the role he played in the run-up to the insurrection.
Banks, after being recommended by McCarthy to lead the GOP team on the committee, said in a tweet, “There’s no way around it—Speaker Pelosi created the committee solely to malign conservatives & justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda.”
Pelosi said she vetoed Jordan and Banks because they threaten “the integrity of the investigation.”
She accepted McCarthy’s three other recommendations, including Davis, with a reputation for being a reasonable, fact-based conservative Republican who, with a career in the House, either as a staffer or member respects the institution.
At a joint press conference in the Capitol on Wednesday, McCarthy said the Republicans would launch their own probe as he yanked all five of his nominees to the committee.
Davis joined with McCarthy in trying to make the Jan. 6 probe about Pelosi.
He summed up what he said on Twitter. “It’s disappointing that Speaker Pelosi is playing politics with an important issue like investigating the events surrounding 1/6. There were security failures that happened under her leadership, and it’s vitally important we find answers so we can make sure it won’t happen again.”
Davis in January proposed creating a 10-member bipartisan commission to investigate the attack. Senate Republicans killed a proposal for an independent commission, so Pelosi and Democrats eventually created this select committee, which Democrats would control.
Pelosi got unusual veto power over GOP picks in order to block Trump loyalists whose only goal is to subvert the probe.
It makes sense that Pelosi did not want people on the panel who see their role as supporting Trump and deflecting any inquiry into how Trump’s actions fed into the insurrection.
In response, McCarthy at the news conference in the Capitol accused Pelosi of an “egregious abuse of power.”
McCarthy, who has been soliciting Trump’s help to win back the House in 2022, wanted Jordan on the committee to help turn the tables and make Pelosi the focus of the inquiry.
Unless Pelosi reverses course, McCarthy said, “and seats all five Republicans, we will not participate.” It is unlikely Pelosi will change her mind.
What these Republicans want is to put Pelosi on trial to find out why “the Capitol was so ill prepared for that day.” None of them mentioned Trump or what got the mob to the Capitol.
It’s difficult for a panel to get work done if Jordan is determined to be disruptive and undermining. I’ve seen him in action in congressional hearings. He’s a fast-talking master of distraction by changing the subject.
He made my point at the news conference. Jordan objected to the Jan. 6 attack being the “sole focus” of the “January 6 committee ... Are they going to tell you about crime, the fact that crime is up in every major urban area ... They’re gonna talk about the border crisis? ... inflation? … The Democrats normalize anarchy.”
Only one person, said Jordan, can answer the question about Capitol security on Jan. 6, and that’s Pelosi.
Davis, of downstate Taylorville, did not mention that Republicans buried a proposed independent commission similar to the one he suggested.
He said the select committee under Pelosi “is a completely partisan process” and that was “very disappointing.”
I was listening to see if Davis — who has been straddling the GOP divides between Trumpists and election deniers and Republicans who believe in facts — would distance himself from the strategy of trying to make the inquiry about Pelosi. He did not.
Davis said, “We are going to continue to ask questions and frankly, there are many unanswered questions about why the Capitol was so unprepared.”
Despite what Davis and the others said, the committee will not be totally partisan.
One of Pelosi’s appointments was Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney, who on Wednesday told reporters, the “rhetoric around this from the Minority Leader and from those two members (Jordan and Banks) has been disgraceful. This must be an investigation that is focused on facts. And the idea that any of this has become politicized is really unworthy of the office that we all hold and unworthy of our Republic.”
Said Cheney, “I agree with what the Speaker has done.”