Pelosi weighing GOP picks for Jan. 6 probe

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) arrives early for a press event on Tuesday, July 20, 2021 to discuss President Biden’s Child Tax Credit.
Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that she has not yet accepted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) Republican picks for the Jan. 6 select committee.

“I’m reviewing that,” she said Tuesday morning.

But opening the door to McCarthy’s selections, Pelosi is also emphasizing that those lawmakers who voted in January to overturn President Trump’s election defeat would not be automatically disqualified from serving on the panel, as some Democrats in her caucus have argued should be the case.

“I’m considering his proposals,” Pelosi told reporters later in the day. “But to be clear, how people voted on the president — affirming the election of Joe Biden — is not a criterion for service. That doesn’t matter.”

The comments came a day after McCarthy named five Republican lawmakers to the select committee: Reps. Jim Banks (Ind.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Rodney Davis (Ill.), Kelly Armstrong (N.D.) and Troy Nehls (Texas).

Republicans had overwhelmingly opposed the select committee, accusing Democrats of wanting to use it merely as a cudgel to bash the former president and his supporters. Their decision to participate on the panel would ensure that Trump has a line of defense as the investigation evolves.

“Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda,” Banks said in a statement.

The GOP selections would fill out the roster of the 13-member committee, after Pelosi named eight lawmakers to the panel earlier in the month. Her choices included Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who will serve as chairman, and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who had voted to impeach President Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack and has since emerged as Congress’s most vocal GOP critic of the former president. For her outspokenness, Cheney was ejected from the GOP leadership ranks in May.

The language of the resolution creating the select committee is explicit that McCarthy’s choices are merely recommendations, lending Pelosi veto power over his picks.

Three of McCarthy’s choices — Banks, Jordan and Nehls — had voted to reverse the outcome of the presidential contest, endorsing Trump’s false assertions that rampant fraud had swung the race to Biden.

Those votes came just hours after a violent mob of Trump supporters had stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 to block Congress from formalizing Biden’s victory, leading to five deaths, injuring almost 140 police officers and infuriating Democrats who have accused those Republicans of being complicit in the riot.

Pelosi on Tuesday, however, said those votes will be immaterial as she weighs whether to approve McCarthy’s selections, paving the way for all five to join the panel. And some other Democrats suggested Tuesday that the picks are all but official.

“We’re pleased that we’re now fully constituted with 13 members,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), vice chairman of the Democratic caucus and a member of the select committee.

Aguilar later explained that because so many Republicans had voted to overturn the election result, it was almost inevitable that some of them would land on the select committee.

“Just based on the math, so many of them voted against certifying the election that we’d be hard pressed [to reject them],” he said. “We knew that that was possible. And within the Republican conference, an overwhelming portion of them voted not to certify the election. So we’re going to hope that everybody’s guided by the resolution to seek the truth and find out what happened.”

Pelosi is not giving any hints about when she’ll make a final decision surrounding McCarthy’s selections.

“When I’m ready,” the Speaker said.

She doesn’t have much time to play with. The first hearing of the select committee, featuring testimony from four police officers who were injured defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, is scheduled for July 27.

Tags Bennie Thompson Capitol riot Donald Trump Jan. 6 Committee Jim Jordan Joe Biden Kelly Armstrong Kevin McCarthy Liz Cheney Nancy Pelosi Pete Aguilar Rodney Davis
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