And a Shocked, Shocked McCarthy Yanks Back Another Three
For a moment, we finally had the Republican appointments to an official Jan. 6 select committee. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided that the GOP picks were too much like inviting the wolf to the henhouse.
With the power Pelosi has, she tossed two of them, Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who already were out with statements showing they were ready to sabotage the committee.
In response, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pulled appointees and said Republicans will hold their own inquiry.
The Republican representatives had been quick to say they would gut the committee’s purpose. They would dilute questions about the insurrection with equal attention to non-parallel street protests from the Left or somehow pin a lack of security planning on Pelosi rather than examining the role of Donald Trump.
A sixth Republican on the committee is Lynn Cheney (Wyo.), one of the few to stand up to Trump’s Big Steal fables because she actually was appointed by Pelosi along with Democrats Bennie G. Thompson (Miss.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Pete Aguilar (Calif.), Stephanie Murphy (Fla.), Jamie B. Raskin (Md.) and Elaine Luria (Va.). Besides Jordan and Banks, McCarthy had recommended Republicans Rodney Davis Ill.), Kelly Armstrong (N.D.) and Troy E. Nehls (Texas), who are out.
Indeed, GOP appointees opposed the creation of the committee or any independent commission and are committed supporters of Trump’s Big Steal theories about the election.
Pelosi (D-Calif.) had insisted that how they voted was less important than whether they will do the job at hand. The job: to investigate the circumstances behind how the insurrection was called, planned and went, including a failure by Trump to stop the rioting in a timely fashion.
After a day, Pelosi rejected the most vocal obstructionists.
This, of course, will invite yet more partisan scorn not only for herself but for the process.
The first hearings are beginning next week and from the spectator seats we already should prep ourselves for discussions about what the questions are rather than the answers.
Banks had said his intent was to sabotage the main point of the proceedings. Jordan is well-schooled in verbal bomb-throwing to misdirect congressional committees. Still, whoever the replacements are, they will likely try the same. The prime job for chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) will be to keep the committee focused on the job at hand.
Plenty of Questions
There are still huge gaps in the voluminous record of Jan. 6, despite live television coverage, hours of videos and the court records of hundreds of individual rioter cases that have started moving through the federal courts.
The committee isn’t intended to explore violence, even political violence, as an academic topic. This committee is to look at what gave rise and comfort to an attempt to overthrow this government, an attempt that involved violence and at least five deaths.
No one besides journalists talking off the record with former White House officials has put Trump in the timeline. Even the conflicts among military and police units involved in trying—very late – to deploy forces to the U.S. Capitol have been resolved.
Just what white nationalist groups and right-leaning militias had formed the basic strategies of the day, who raised the money and what exactly the objectives of the day involved all are complicated inquiries. What so-called Capitol tours did Republican congress members provide in the day or two before Jan. 6 remains an open inquiry.
Indeed, Trump in various book interviews, seems to see nothing wrong with what happened on Jan. 6, which, of course, is part of the problem here in asking out-and-out supporters to investigate.
In other words, there is plenty here to determine besides whether this whole effort is a partisan attempt to jab Trump, which is what Jordan was arguing. Banks argued that if Democrats were serious about investigating political violence, this committee would be studying not only the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, but also the hundreds of violent political riots last summer following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, adding that innocent Americans and law-enforcement officers were attacked. He said Pelosi created the committee “solely to malign conservatives.”
Right-leaning media have been offering a steady drumbeat of commentary that there was no insurrection, and that the term itself is loaded—despite what our lying eyes showed us all that day.
Where Is Understanding?
In her statement, Pelosi said Democrats in her caucus had raised specific objections to Jordan and Banks “and the impact their appointments may have on the integrity of the investigation.”
It is hard to refute the idea that sabotaging the committee’s work could lead to any good for anyone other than Trump. The Washington Post editorial board had called on Pelosi to reject the two McCarthy appointees in the name of getting to a real result.
Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent saw that this Republican insistence on broader political violence is meant “to obscure public understanding of some large and lethal truths: Right-wing radicalization is far and away the primary threat to democratic stability in this country, and Republicans themselves have actively fed and exploited that radicalization, heavily implicating them in what happened.”
That may be so, but in the meantime, the antics of a vocal minority on this committee threaten its very inquiries.
Historian Kevin Kruse told Sargent that appointing people such as Banks and Jordan to the Jan. 6 committee is akin to “appointing Strom Thurmond to the Kerner Commission.” Thurmond, a segregationist Dixiecrat, disdained the Kerner Commission’s fundamental goals, Kruse said, and Banks and Jordan “have contempt for the Jan. 6 inquiry.”
Jan. 6 showed that a substantial number of people have had it with American institutions and were willing to use Trump’s iconoclastic fantasies to show that they don’t accept the basic tenets of American democracy.
We need to understand that kind of racialist, anti-fact movement that is only metastasizing and is even benefiting from a cadre of intellectuals who are developing an ugly and disconcerting ideological foundation for it. It believes in mob rule over rule of law and doesn’t mind harming people to get its way.
In Step One of setting up this forced congressional committee to examine what happened, we’re already seeing the seeds of Republican cover-up and bad faith. Even with the daily flood of sloganeering against socialists and radical Leftists, it feels a constant replay of divisiveness.