Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader, is finalizing a House GOP list for a Democratic-led investigation into the January 6th insurrection. He has rejected the idea of a boycott to add Republicans to the panel as it would be more beneficial to participate in active defense.
Initially, the House GOP debated whether McCarthy should appoint members of the select committee. Or if he should just ignore it entirely to avoid partisanship. CNN learned that McCarthy plans to place Republicans on a high-profile panel. This is according to multiple GOP sources who are familiar with McCarthy’s intentions. Republicans believe that this perch will allow them to create a counternarrative for a probe that could trap not only Donald Trump but other members.
McCarthy is likely to tap Trump allies to fill one of the five Republican seats on the committee. However, McCarthy is under increasing pressure to pick more pragmatic members who can bring credibility to their side. According to some GOP sources, McCarthy would be smart to choose at least one person who voted for the certification of presidential election results to protect himself from criticisms from Democrats.
This is particularly true after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi selected a Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney from Wyoming as one of eight candidates for the congressional probe. This move was designed to get bipartisan support for their investigation and sell a divided public on their findings. The California Democrat has also made it clear that McCarthy’s picks are her veto powers, although it is unclear under which circumstances she would be willing to use them.
McCarthy’s final choice for the selection panel member will set the tone for a partisan fight that could drag on into 2022. That is why he seeks to strike the right balance in his selections. It could also have profound implications in the fight for the House. Republicans have history and redistricting to their advantage, but they could be hampered by questions about Trump’s deadly Capital riots.
Rep. Kelly Armstrong from North Dakota said, “If you don’t (appoint Republicans), then the reality is, there’s only one news story.” “I have never been a take your ball and run home’ type of man.”
Although the timeline for McCarthy’s decision is not clear, GOP sources believe it will be made soon. Pelosi last week noted that the January 6 panel has a quorum. It can start its work with or without McCarthy’s picks. This means there is little incentive for McCarthy to slow down his decisions.
Some Republicans would prefer that their party didn’t participate in the probe. Others, such as McCarthy, would prefer to see Republicans in a position that they can easily push back against Democrats at high-profile hearings, and possibly even write a minority report at the end.
McCarthy will likely avoid choosing the most controversial firebrands of the party, like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia and Matt Gaetz in Florida. These would be more difficult for the Republican leader, which could make it harder to control the GOP’s strategy.
McCarthy will likely tap those lawmakers he believes he can trust or have proven track records in defending Trump’s cause, including those who led the charge against the electoral results being reversed in Congress.
The House GOP conference sees Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, as a strong Trump ally who McCarthy used as an attack dog for other high-profile assignments. Jordan has many responsibilities. He is the House Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, chairs a new GOP task force, and serves as the coronavirus select panel member.
Similar to this, we have now-House GOP Conference chairwoman Elise Stefanik from New York. She was propelled into GOP stardom after fiercely defending President Obama during the first impeachment. Also, Rep. Jim Banks, an ally of McCarthy and the ambitious chairman at the conservative Republican Study Committee, and Rep. Mike Johnson, a member in the GOP leadership and former constitutional law lawyer who served as Trump’s impeachment surrogate in 2019.
McCarthy will be under pressure to name Stefanik if he doesn’t. Another contender is Rep. Jackie Walorksi, an Indiana Republican who was interested earlier in the year in running for the leadership position.
Some Republicans believe McCarthy should be chosen by Republicans who are members of the House Administration Committee. This committee oversees Capitol’s day-to-day operations and has expertise in legal matters or national security. One GOP lawmaker stated that it should include someone who is familiar with security procedures and can provide thoughtful context for the kinds of things we need.
Other names that have been suggested include Reps. Brad Wenstrup from Ohio, who is a US Army Reserve Member who sits upon the House Intelligence Committee; John Rutherford, who hails from Florida and who was present during the GOP’s 2017 GOP baseball shooting; Markwayne Mullin, who hails from Oklahoma and who used to be a professional mixed martial arts fighter and who also serves on the intelligence panel.
McCarthy may, however, be inclined to appoint McCarthy a lawmaker who voted for the 2020 presidential election results to be certified. This would allow McCarthy to have greater influence with moderate areas of the country. Armstrong, a former chairman of the state party, and Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania), who co-chairs a bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, and supported an independent committee on January 6. Tom McClintock (California), a veteran lawmaker, could also be on this list.
McCarthy faces a significant challenge because many House Republicans, particularly those in difficult reelection races want to avoid this politically risky assignment. Fitzpatrick, Armstrong, and others said they would both serve on the panel, even though they opposed the select committee.
The GOP’s strategy is beginning to take shape. Already, Republicans see the investigation as a politically motivated probe by Democrats who are trying to harm Trump and the GOP before the midterm elections. This is similar to their playbook during Trump’s first impeachment when they heavily relied on process arguments.
However, Democrats claimed they had no choice but to create a select committee because the Senate GOP stopped an independent commission that would have been tasked with outside experts investigating the insurrection. Even under the select panel format, Democrats claim they are only motivated by the truth and to prevent another violent siege at the Capitol. They do not want to go after political opponents.
Republicans also indicated that they wanted to pay attention to the steps that Pelosi took (or didn’t take) to secure the Capitol on that day. They are also expected to draw attention to the political violence on left, including the protests last summer that broke out as a result of police brutality.
GOP lawmakers are likely to try to stop the Democrats from investigating at every opportunity. This could mean that GOP lawmakers will try to stop the Democrats’ investigation at every turn. Democrats have indicated they may issue subpoenas to force Trump and other Republicans to testify on Trump’s mentality and conduct during the riots.
They should follow the facts. They might be able to get what they need and want without him testifying,” House Majority whip Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat told CNN’s Dana Bash, “State of the Union.” “I wouldn’t want to see a former president testify in such an instance as this. But if that is what it takes to get to the bottom, then I would.