Democrats said Representatives Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, who led the Donald J. Trump’s plagiarized election falsified and opposed an investigation into the attack, but cannot be trusted to investigate it.
WASHINGTON – Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called on former President Donald J. Asking two of Trump’s most vocal Republican defenders in Congress to block a select committee to investigate the January 6 Capitol riots, their conduct suggested they could not be relied upon to participate.
In an unusual move, Ms Pelosi announced she was rejecting representatives from Indiana’s Jim Banks and Ohio’s Jim Jordan, both of whom escalated Trump’s false claims of election fraud, to President Biden’s victory on January 6. joined the efforts of his party to challenge. and has opposed efforts by Trump supporters to investigate the attack on the Capitol. She agreed to give the seat to the other three Republicans who were selected for the panel.
But Ms Pelosi said she could not allow the pair to participate based on their actions and their comments around the riots, which she downplayed the investigation. Mr Banks, who has drawn comparisons to the unrest’s deadly attack during last summer’s racial justice protests, said the January 6 investigation was designed to “discredit conservatives and justify a left-wing authoritarian agenda”. Mr Jordan, one of the biggest cheerleaders of Mr Trump’s attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 election, pressed Mr Trump’s false claims to the floor of the House as protesters breached the Capitol, and “impeached” the select committee. said. Round 3.”
The speaker’s decision sparked an angry reaction from California Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, who announced that Republicans would boycott the panel altogether. He seized on Ms Pelosi’s interference as confirmation of his allegation that the investigation was nothing more than a political exercise to hurt the GOP.
The partisan controversy that surfaced even before the selection committee began its work underscores the difficult task in investigating the attack on MPs who have now been accused of sabotaging it. It was also the latest evidence of how toxic relations have become between the two sides, especially in the House, after Mr Trump’s defeat and a violent attempt to block authentication of the result.
Many Democrats no longer want to work with or listen to Republicans who helped spread the lies of Trump’s plagiarism, especially those who led the effort and tried to downplay the gravity and significance of the attack. , which inspired it. Some said that allowing the two most prominent defenders to serve on a panel investigating attacks was to allow criminals to investigate their own crimes.
In a statement, Ms Pelosi said she had dismissed Mr Banks and Mr Jordan “with respect to the integrity of the investigation, with an emphasis on truth and concern about the statements and actions made by these members.”
“The unprecedented nature of January 6 demands this unprecedented decision,” she said.
An apparently agitated Mr McCarthy hastily called a news conference to condemn Ms Pelosi’s move and accuse her of extreme favoritism. He pledged to conduct a Republican-only investigation into the events of January 6, focusing on how Pelosi should have done more to protect the Capitol from hordes of Trump loyalists.
“Why was the capital not so prepared for the day they found out on December 14 that they had a problem?” Mr McCarthy said, referring to the Democrats. “Pelosi has created a pretentious process.”
In a television studio on Capitol Hill, Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Banks and Mr. Jordan – appearing with three other Republicans elected to sit on the panel – demanded Mr. Trump and his own political supporters to shift the blame for the riots. . It carried out, instead blaming Democrats, who said they had not adequately planned the attack.
Representative Benny Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, chairman of the select committee, said he “won’t be distracted by partisanship” and pledged to move forward with the panel’s work, including its first public hearing next week where the Capitol and Columbia K district police officers are ready to testify on how they dealt with the mob.
Ms Pelosi had quietly debated her options with Democratic members of the panel, who objected to allowing firebrands such as Mr Jordan and Mr Banks, who so closely resemble Mr Trump’s efforts to undermine the election. were attached, to serve with them.
“There are people who want to derail the investigation and there are people who want to investigate,” said Representative Jamie Ruskin, a Maryland Democrat and panelist. “That’s the fault line here.”
Democrats received high-profile support from Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, McCarthy’s former No. 3, who was appointed to the committee after Pelosi was removed from her leadership position in May for criticizing Trump .
“The rhetoric we’ve heard from the minority leader is baseless,” Cheney told reporters on the steps of the Capitol. “On every occasion, the minority leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened, to block the investigation.”
She said that Ms Pelosi was empowered to ban Mr Jordan and Mr Banks from the panel, adding that Mr Jordan was a potential “physical witness” and Mr Banks “with recent comments disparaging the committee’s work”. disqualified himself”.
Mr Banks has come under criticism for arranging a recent visit for House Republicans to join Mr Trump at the southwestern border, a participant in which Occasionally served as translator at Capital Riot. He also issued a belligerent statement Monday night in which he blamed the Biden administration for its response to the riots – which occurred during the final days of the Trump administration – and said he would not allow the committee to “turn into a forum . Condemn millions of Americans because of their political beliefs.”
On Wednesday, both he and Mr Jordan accused Pelosi of failing to secure the Capitol from rioters who followed her in the corridors on 6 January, chanting “Nancy”.
Congressional leaders do not oversee security at the Capitol, although they do hire those who do. It is controlled by the Capitol Police Board, which includes the House and Senate Sergeants-at-Arms and the architects of the Capitol. At the time of the attack, House Sergeant-at-Arms, Paul D. Irving had been on the job since 2012, when he was hired under Republican Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio. The Senate’s sergeant-at-arms at the time, Michael Stanger, was hired in 2018, when Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky headed the chamber.
Mr Jordan, who has called the committee’s work a political attack on Mr Trump, was among a group of House Republicans who met with the former president in December to help plan an effort to challenge Mr Biden’s victory. Had it. Democratic members of the select committee were considering calling him as a witness in their investigation.
Ms. Cheney reportedly clashed with Mr. Jordan on the floor of the House on 6 January, Two journalists for The Washington Post blamed him for the riot, according to a new book.
Ms Pelosi had said she would accept McCarthy’s three other nominees on the panel – Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois, Representative Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Representative Troy Nehls of Texas – and said she chose McCarthy as the two new nominees. encouraged to offer. Replace Mr. Jordan and Mr. Banks.
But following Mr McCarthy’s lead, the three of them also said they would not participate.
“I was certainly ready to help this committee get to the truth,” said Mr. Nehls, branding a barrage of research. “But unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi has shown that he is more interested in playing politics.”