House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., rejected two Republicans tapped by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to sit on a committee investigating the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, a decision McCarthy denounced as “an egregious abuse of power.”
McCarthy said the GOP will not participate in the investigation if Democrats do not accept the members he appointed.
Pelosi cited the “integrity” of the probe in refusing to accept the appointments of Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., picked by McCarthy to be the top Republican on the panel, or Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. Both are close allies of former President Donald Trump.
In the hours after the storming of the Capitol, both Banks and Jordan voted to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential victory. Pelosi said she had spoken with McCarthy and told him she would reject the two names.
“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 Reps. Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee,” Pelosi said.
McCarthy said in a statement Pelosi’s move will damage the institution of Congress.
“Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees, Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts,” McCarthy said.
The speaker’s decision is certain to further inflame tension between the two parties over Jan. 6 and the House panel that almost all Republicans opposed. Most in the GOP have remained loyal to Trump despite the protest. McCarthy had would not say for weeks whether Republicans would even participate in the probe, but on Monday, he sent the five names to Pelosi.
Pelosi said in the statement she had accepted McCarthy’s three other picks — Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., and Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, but McCarthy said that all or none would participate.
Like Jordan and Banks, Nehls voted to debate allegations of election fraud Jan. 6. Armstrong and Davis voted to certify the election.
McCarthy’s picks came after all but two Republicans opposed the creation of the 13-person select committee in a House vote last month, with most in the GOP arguing that the majority-Democratic panel would conduct a partisan probe. House Democrats originally attempted to create an evenly split, independent commission to investigate Jan. 6, but that effort fell short when it was blocked by Senate Republicans.
Banks recently traveled with Trump to the U.S.-Mexico border and to visit him at his New Jersey golf course. In a statement after McCarthy tapped him for the panel, he sharply criticized the Democrats who had set it up.
“Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda,” Banks said.
Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, was one of Trump’s most vocal defenders during his two impeachments and last month likened the new investigation to “impeachment three.” Trump was impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate both times.
The chairman of the panel, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., has said the committee will have a quorum to conduct business whether GOP members are present or not.
Pelosi named eight members of the panel earlier this month — seven Democrats and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who has strongly criticized Trump, has been the most outspoken member of her caucus, and voted to impeach the former president. Cheney, who was demoted from GOP leadership in May over her comments, was one of the two Republicans who voted in favor of forming the committee, along with Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., another GOP member critical of Trump.
The panel will hold its first hearing next week, with at least four rank-and-file police officers who battled rioters that day testifying about their experiences. Dozens of police officers were injured as the crowd pushed past them and entered the Capitol building.
U.S. veteran Ashli Babbitt was shot by police as she tried to break into the House chamber and three other Trump supporters who suffered medical emergencies. Two police officers died by suicide in the days that followed, and a third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, collapsed and later died. A medical examiner determined he died of natural causes.
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