The congressional committee investigating the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol is embroiled in a new partisan firestorm over which Republican members can serve on it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has the final say over its members and announced Wednesday she would reject two of the five members — Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks — suggested by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Lisa Desjardins reports.
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The special congressional committee tasked with investigating the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol is embroiled in a new partisan firestorm tonight, at issue, which Republican members will be allowed to participate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has the final say over who sits on the panel and today announced she would reject two of the five members suggested by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
In her statement, Pelosi cited concerns about Representatives Jim Banks and Jim Jordan and the impact their appointments may have on the integrity of the investigation.
McCarthy hit back, saying that if Banks and Jordan could not serve, then none of them would. And he charged Pelosi and Democrats with an abuse of power.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-CA:
House Democrats must answer this question: Why are you allowing a lame-duck speaker to destroy this institution? This is the people's house, not Pelosi's house.
And now the sole Republican on the select committee, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, condemned her party's leader, but said it will not deter the remaining members from completing their work.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-WY:
And, at every opportunity, the minority leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened, to block this investigation.
This investigation must go forward. The idea that anybody would be playing politics with an attack on the United States Capitol is despicable and is disgraceful.
And here to piece together this day's events and where we go from here, our Lisa Desjardins. She is at the Capitol now.
So, hello, Lisa.
You spoke to all the players involved in this today. Take us through the decision, surprising decision made by the speaker on such a high-profile issue.
Quite an unusual decision and an unusual day here, Judy.
First of all, to explain to viewers, Pelosi was able to do this because she herself set up this committee as a select committee of the House. And in the bill that set up this committee, it gave her the power to veto any of the Republicans' choices from Mr. McCarthy.
She used the power today. And I want to look at who we're talking about. Leader McCarthy made five appointments. We look at the five faces of the people who were — he wanted on the committee. There they are.
Two of them, as you said, Jim Jordan and then also Jim Banks there at the top left were the ones that she had issues with. The other three were going to be allowed to remain on the committee, but they have, in fact, said they will not participate now.
Now, so why Banks and Jordan specifically? That's a question we have all been asking. Now, Jordan, you should know, is someone who is seen potentially as a material witness in this case because he did work with President Trump's legal team in — on questions about the certification of the election.
Now, as for these two men, one reason this is raising a lot of eyebrows is because of their positions within the House. I want to talk a little bit about that. Jim Jordan, as many of our viewers will know, is the number one Republican, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, and then Jim Banks also someone behind the scenes who's very important. He chairs the Republican Study Committee, which is the largest caucus. The majority of Republicans are in that group.
Both of them did vote to object to the election results on January 6, after the insurrection. But there were others named who also objected that Pelosi didn't remove.
Jim Banks, why was he rejected by Pelosi? He's someone who's not seen as throwing punches the way that Jim Jordan is. I'm told it's because of a statement that Mr. Banks, Representative Banks made earlier this week about the committee itself. Let's take a look at this.
This was his statement, and he was becoming the ranking member on the committee. He wrote that: "Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives."
Now, on the one hand, this is actual normal partisan rhetoric in these very heated times. But talking to those around Speaker Pelosi, they say this was her call, and they really want a serious investigation here. Their conclusion was that Representative Banks and Representative Jordan would not be serious, would not lead to a serious investigation.
However, of course, they differ. They say this is partisan tactics, that Democrats are going to use this issue in the next election. And they say, essentially, this is a sham by Pelosi.
I asked her, how does she respond to being called someone playing politics? She told me these exact words, Judy. She said: "Perhaps you have mistaken me for someone who cares about that."
So she doesn't really care about what Republicans are saying about her. She's focused on what this committee is right now and what it will do.
So, Lisa, where does this leave the investigation into January 6? And we know there's such high tension already between the two parties over that.
There will now be two investigations. Republican Leader McCarthy said his group will lead their own investigation. We don't really know details of that yet. But the other group, including Liz Cheney, and then the seven Democrats with her, will go forward with their investigation as planned. No timeline for that either.
That first hearing is next week. But I have to say all of this really just inflames those tensions I keep talking about that are just beneath the surface. I spoke to Democrats today who are angry. Overall rank-and-file members, though, I think both are disappointed. Both sides know this is a fragile time, where they want to talk about things like infrastructure.
But this kind of day leads to problems on almost every issue.
Lisa Desjardins reporting from the Capitol.
Thank you, Lisa.