That House Democrats were going to take a heavy-handed and highly partisan approach to their investigation of the pro-Trump rally that took place in Washington, D.C. on January 6 was never in doubt. However, on July 21, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) went beyond what even the most cynical of political observers might have expected when she denied seats on the select committee to two of the five Republicans picked by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). With that decision, the speaker dispelled what little hope there was that the probe into the events of Jan. 6 was going to be an objective fact-finding exercise.
Pelosi, who herself selected Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), along with six Democrats, to sit on the committee, has made a mockery of her own words from June 30: “The next step for us has always been to seek and to find the truth. We want to do so in the most patriotic and non-partisan way, so the American people have confidence in the results.”
McCarthy Recovers a Fumble
McCarthy, who initially lent credibility to the Jan. 6 investigation when he agreed to appoint five Republicans to sit on the committee, reacted to Pelosi’s unprecedented move by withdrawing all of the GOP committee members. “Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees,” McCarthy said on Wednesday, “Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts.”
The speaker objected to the participation of Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jim Banks (R-IN), saying:
“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.”
Jordan, a staunch Trump ally, is known for not pulling his punches. With him on the committee, Democrats would have found it difficult to do what many critics believe they intend to do, which is to portray former President Trump and his supporters as violent insurrectionists intent on overrunning the Capitol and preventing a transfer of power to the presumed winner of the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden.
Alongside McCarthy at a Wednesday press conference, Banks weighed in on Pelosi’s decision to bar him and Jordan from the committee:
“She knows that we’re already asking questions in just the two – the first couple of days that Leader McCarthy appointed us to this task, that Democrats have never asked; about why the Capitol was vulnerable on that day when we had intelligence for weeks leading up to Jan. 6 that told us that something dangerous would happen.
“She knew we would fight back against their political game and that’s why she didn’t want us to participate in this committee. What is the speaker afraid of?”
“This has always been about politics,” said Jordon, “and today’s actions by the speaker just confirm that.”
A Political Stunt
The findings of the committee seem predetermined and any pretense that the Democrats involved, or Rep. Cheney, are going into this investigation with an open mind doesn’t pass the sniff test. After all, Pelosi herself stated that the “violent domestic attack on Congress on January 6th was the worst assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812 and the worst domestic assault on American democracy since the Civil War.”
Yet, despite the speaker’s hyperbole, it should be remembered that no businesses in the nation’s capital were looted or burned on Jan. 6. Only minor damage was done to the Capitol building, and only one individual died as a direct result of violent action; an unarmed female Trump supporter who was shot dead by a capitol police officer who has faced no charges or even disciplinary action.
Meanwhile, a number of individuals who were present at the Capitol on that day are being detained indefinitely – without trial and without access to legal counsel – in terrible conditions. They are, in effect, political prisoners.
This entire exercise may serve only to further antagonize conservatives and confirm what they already suspect; that the Democratic Party and its media muckrakers consider them the enemy. The first metaphorical shots in America’s cold civil war have already been fired. This piece of political theater upon which Democrats are about to embark is undoubtedly going to raise the temperature.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.