The special congressional committee investigating the Capitol attack of Jan. 6, which will hold its first hearing on July 27, is already mired in controversy. According to The Guardian, “ Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, finds herself locked in a battle of wills with Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader who, critics say, is determined to change the political conversation to any other subject.”
Using her power as Speaker of the House, Pelosi rejected two House Republicans, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Indiana’s Jim Banks, appointed by McCarthy, because they “made statements and took actions that just made it ridiculous to put them on such a committee seeking the truth,” Pelosi said at a news conference.
Citing previous statements made by Jordan and Banks regarding the January 6 riot, Pelosi said, ““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 Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee.” Beyond the January 6 incident, Pelosi is likely alluding to Banks’ and Jordan’s support for rejecting the certification of Biden as President.
And, as proof that “politics makes strange bedfellows, Liz Cheney, (R, WY), crossed the political aisle in support of the Democrats and Pelosi, arguing, “At every opportunity, the minority leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened” on Jan. 6.
Cheney pointed out that “One of the two Republicans that Pelosi refused to appoint ‘may well be a material witness to events that led to’ the invasion. The other ‘disqualified himself’ through comments that showed he viewed his appointment as a ‘political platform,’ she said.
Jordan fired back, stating, “You know what this is about. This is about going after President Trump. The Democrats don’t want to talk about anything else.” Banks echoed Jordan’s sentiment, stating, “all along that this was a purely partisan exercise by the Democrats, and Nancy Pelosi’s rejection of me and Jim Jordan shows once again she is the most partisan figure in America today.”
To be fair, Pelosi is probably in her rights to take a hard stance with regard to political appointees given that the Republcan controlled Senate voted against a bill to create an independent inquiry to investigate the January 6 incident. Jordan, Banks, and McCarthy voted against the bill, along with 51 other Republicans. It should also be pointed out that Pelosi accepted three of the other Republican nominations from McCarthy.
And Cheney is not the only Republican who is vocal about her opposition to what some people see as GOP feet-dragging with regard to January 6. Senator Lisa Murkowski, (R, AL) said, “To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us, on January 6, I think we need to look at that critically. Is that really what this is about, is everything just one election cycle after another? Or are we going to acknowledge that as a country that is based on these principles of democracy that we hold so dear?”
This type of partisan, tit-for-tat politics needs to end because it smacks of the use of political power to quash deep and honest conversations about what is going on in our country. The Republicans should have never voted against an independent commission, even if they suspected it to be partisan.
Such a preemptive strike may be tactically advantageous in the short term, but long term it was bound to backfire, especially given the fact that Democrats effectively own the House of Representatives and the White House. Moreover, it sends a message to the American public that they have something to hide, that they don’t want to potentially uncover information that is damaging to not only Trump, but to his supporters, including GOP legislators.
Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota is concerned about the growing, seemingly unbreachable divide between the two parties, warning, “Clearly Washington today is not capable of getting to the truth. You’ve got such poisonous tribal warfare between Republicans and Democrats that every encounter is one of viciousness.”
On the other hand, Pelosi’s power move, while pleasing to her political base, is simultaneously undermining transparency. If she truly believes that Jordan and Banks hold illegitimate views based on invalid information, she should let this be exposed through the investigation process. If she truly believes “The American people want to know the truth,” then let the process begin with all perspectives on the table. If there are indeed scoundrels who do not have the best interest of Americans at heart, that truth will come out in the wash, be they Democrats or Republicans.
If you are a student of history, you may recall how Joe Welch, the Army lawyer who took on Andrew McCarthy in the historic Army-McCarthy hearings, handled his opponent, stating, “Until this moment, senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. … Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
Mary Clare Jalonick of Associated Press agrees with this perspective, writing, “The move is emblematic of the raw political tensions in Congress that have only escalated since the insurrection and raises the possibility that the investigation — the only comprehensive probe currently being conducted of the attack — will be done almost entirely by Democrats.”
Meanwhile, other Republicans have expressed interest in serving on the January 6 committee. For the sake of our country’s future, let’s hope Pelosi will not block them.
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