by Marie Claire Jalonik
WASHINGTON (AP) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday rejected two Republicans tapped by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising, a decision Republicans called “an exercise of power.” condemned as “serious abuse”.
McCarthy said the GOP would not participate in the investigation if Democrats did not accept the members he had appointed.
Pelosi cited the “integrity” of the investigation in refusing to accept the appointments of Indiana Representative Jim Banks, who was chosen by McCarthy as the top Republican on the panel, or Ohio Representative Jim Jordan. The two men are vocal allies of former President Donald Trump, whose supporters that day laid siege to the Capitol and obstructed President Joe Biden’s certification of victory. Both voted to reverse the election results in the hours following the siege.
Democrats have said the investigation will continue to see whether Republicans participate, as Pelosi has already appointed eight of the 13 members — including Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a critic of Trump — and has given her the go-ahead. for a bipartisan quorum. to the rules of the committee.
Pelosi said she had spoken to McCarthy and told him she would decline both names.
Pelosi said in a statement, “With regard to the integrity of the investigation, with emphasis on the truth and concern about the statements and actions made by these members, I must reject the recommendations of Representative Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee. ” .
The move marks a raw political tension in Congress that has only increased since the rebellion and raises the possibility that the investigation – currently the only comprehensive investigation into the attack – will be conducted almost entirely by Democrats. Pelosi originally tried to create an independent investigation that would have been split more evenly between the parties, but Senate Republicans blocked that approach in a vote last month.
McCarthy immediately issued a statement saying his move would harm the institution of Congress.
“Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and gives seats to all five Republican candidates, Republicans will not be a party to their pretentious process and will instead conduct our own investigation of the facts,” McCarthy said.
Shortly after, he criticized the Democratic leader at a news conference with all five members. “The only way to reverse this is to make these five sit,” McCarthy said.
It is unclear how McCarthy will lead a separate investigation, as the minority does not have the power to set up committees. But he said the panel had lost “all legitimacy” because Pelosi would not allow Republicans to name their members.
Most in the GOP have remained loyal to Trump despite a violent rebellion from his supporters, which saw many lawmakers run for their lives. McCarthy would not say for weeks whether Republicans would also participate in the investigation, but he did send five names to Pelosi on Monday.
Pelosi acknowledged McCarthy’s three other choices — Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong and Texas Rep. Troy Nehls. But McCarthy said all five or none would participate.
Like Jordan and Banks, Nehls voted to reverse Biden’s victory. Armstrong and Davis voted to substantiate the election.
Banks recently traveled with Trump to the US-Mexico border and met him at his New Jersey golf course. In a statement after McCarthy tapped him for the panel, he sharply criticized the Democrats who founded it.
“Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to discredit conservatives and justify a left-wing authoritarian agenda,” Banks said.
Democrats who Pelosi appointed to the committee earlier this month were outraged by the statement, according to a senior Democratic aide who was familiar with the private deliberations and who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss them. Had it. The person said they were also concerned about two recent visits to Banks with Trump.
Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, was one of Trump’s most vocal defenders during his two impeachments and compared the new investigation last month to “impeachment three.” Trump was impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate both times.
Back and forth came, but two Republicans opposed the creation of the select committee in a House vote last month, with most of the GOP arguing that the majority-democratic panel would investigate partisan. Only Cheney and another frequent Trump critic, Republican Representative Adam Kizinger of Illinois, voted in favor of the panel.
Cheney told reporters he agreed with Pelosi’s decision to dismiss Jordan and Banks. “The rhetoric about it on the part of the minority leader and those two members is shameful,” she said.
Pelosi has the authority to approve or reject members according to the committee’s rules, although he acknowledged that his move was unusual. She said “the unprecedented nature of January 6 demands this unprecedented decision.”
The panel will hold its first hearing next week, with at least four rank-and-file police officers who fought rioters that day testifying about their experiences. Dozens of police officers were injured as the crowd pushed them back and broke into the Capitol building.
Mississippi Representative Benny Thompson, chairman of the panel, said the committee would perform its duties.
“More than 6 months since the attack, we are responsible for keeping our democracy on course and not distracted by side-shows,” Thompson said in a statement. “That’s exactly what we’ll do next Tuesday, when members of the bipartisan committee testify from frontline heroes who put their lives on the line to defend our democracy.”
Seven people died during and after the riots, including a woman who was shot by police as she tried to break into a House chamber and three other Trump supporters who suffered medical emergencies was. Two police officers died by suicide in the following days, and a third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Siknick, collapsed and later died after engaging with protesters. A medical examiner determined that he died of natural causes.
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report.