The proposed establishment of a select committee to investigate the events of Jan. 6 on Capitol Hill looks likely to create a political minefield, through which members of both main parties will have to tread very carefully. After Republicans blocked Democrat attempts to establish a “9/11-style commission” to investigate the matter, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) faces the probably impossible task of kicking off a congressional inquiry that doesn’t look like yet another blatantly partisan attempt to go after former President Donald Trump and his still-discontented supporters.
A Very Partisan Bipartisan Effort
On June 28, a resolution was introduced in the House that would greenlight the creation of the committee, to which Pelosi will appoint eight members and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will appoint five. The resolution is expected to come up for a vote on June 30, and most believe it will pass largely along party lines. An aide for Pelosi said that she was “seriously considering” appointing one Republican – a sign that she is very concerned that, before it even begins its work, the committee will be dismissed by most as another political witch hunt.
The speaker’s gambit is unlikely to pay off, though, because the two Republicans most talked about as possible Pelosi appointees are Representatives Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Liz Cheney (R-WY), the two most vocal Trump critics among Republicans on Capitol Hill. So, the idea that anyone is likely to buy the perception of bipartisanship that the appointment of one of these two lawmakers is supposed to create is somewhat fanciful.
On page four of the 15-page resolution, the first listed purpose of the committee is: “To investigate and report upon the facts, circumstances, and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex.” It is a statement that sets the tone for the investigation. The verdict is already in. Congress is now simply waiting for the jury to decide the time and manner of reaching the said verdict. Pelosi’s appointing of a token Republican – and one who is stridently anti-Trump – to the committee will do little to give it a more bipartisan appearance.
It was always obvious that Democrats were going to squeeze as much political mileage as they could out of the protest. Joe Biden’s party and its propagandists in the media have imaginatively portrayed the massive pro-Trump rally as an attempted insurrection, despite the fact that among the tens of thousands of attendees – many hundreds or possibly thousands of whom could reasonably be assumed to own guns – very few weapons of any kind were discovered. There was no gunfire and no fatalities except for the killing of an unarmed woman by a Capitol Police officer.
These facts alone discredit the idea that the event was some kind of organized attempt to overthrow the legislative branch of the federal government.
Even some of those few Republicans, like Representatives Peter Meijer of Michigan and John Katko of New York, who in February voted to impeach Trump are backing away from the creation of the committee. “I worry that a more partisan committee will make it harder for the findings of the investigation to be viewed as credible by the broad swaths of the electorate,” said Meijer. Katko, who was in favor of the 9/11-style commission, added: “It’s exactly what I was hoping we wouldn’t have, because it’s going to be politicized.”
One could speculate, perhaps wildly, about the Democrats’ intended endgame with this probe. Is it pure political theater in the run-up to the midterms – and perhaps an attempt to sabotage a potential White House run by Trump in 2024? Maybe Pelosi believes she can somehow engineer a banning of the 45th president from any future political activity. Regardless of what might be contained in a final report from this proposed select committee, the inquiry can only serve to keep Trump in the spotlight and further enrage his supporters. Rather than bringing down the final curtain on Trumpism, Democrats may be about to grasp an already angry tiger by its tail.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.