Simmering tensions exploded in Washington, D.C. Wednesday over who should serve on a special bipartisan commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the two Republican lawmakers at the center of the firestorm, Jim Banks of Indiana and Ohio’s Jim Jordan. Shortly afterward, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled his remaining Republican nominees from the commission, saying the panel had lost all legitimacy and credibility.
The House Select Committee investigating events surrounding the January 6th riot is scheduled to hold its first hearing next Tuesday.
Pelosi didn’t specify exactly what her objections were, but a Democrat told The Washington Post there were concerns about their past actions and statements – Banks has claimed the committee is politicized by the Left, while Jordan may be called as a witness because he spoke with Trump on Jan. 6.
The Speaker claimed their appointments would impact the integrity of the investigation.
“When does the other team’s coach get to determine who gets to play for our team?” Rep. Jordan said. “We’ll see what happens…this is about attacking President Trump once again.”
Hours after their dismissal, McCarthy, flanked by Jordan and Banks, said unless Pelosi reversed course and sat all five of his nominees, the Republicans would not participate in the committee.
“Pelosi has created a sham process,” said McCarthy. “It shows exactly what I warned back at the beginning of January, that Pelosi would play politics with this.”
McCarthy said Republicans will conduct their own separate investigation instead. “The American people deserve that. They don’t deserve politics. They don’t deserve destroying the institution. No committee in Congress will work if one person is picking all who can serve,” he said.
Speaking at a CNN Town Hall in Cincinnati, President Joe Biden said no one can downplay what happened on Jan. 6.
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“I don’t care if you think I’m Satan reincarnated. The fact is, you can’t look at that television and say nothing happened on the 6th. You can’t listen to people who say this was a peaceful march,” said Biden.
Meanwhile, Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming, an outspoken critic of the former president, was picked by Pelosi to serve on the Democratic committee.
Cheney accused McCarthy of being insincere since he initially opposed establishing an independent commission.
“The rhetoric around this from the minority leader and from those two members has been disgraceful,” said Cheney. “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.”
Pelosi wants replacements for Banks and Jordan. McCarthy declined, calling her move an “egregious abuse of power.”