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Opposition to the select committee is nearly unanimous from House Republicans, who've attacked the work as illegitimate and politically motivated. Indiana Rep. Jim Banks was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's pick to serve as ranking member on the committee, but Speaker Pelosi blocked his appointment. Banks, one of the most vocal critics of the Jan. 6 panel, joins Lisa Desjardins to discuss.
Opposition to the select committee is nearly unanimous from House Republicans, who have attacked the work as illegitimate and politically motivated.
Lisa Desjardins spoke earlier with a member of the Republican leadership for his reaction to last night's hearing.
Indiana Congressman Jim Banks was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's pick to serve as ranking member of the January 6 Select Committee. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposed and blocked his appointment. In the months following, Banks, who also chairs the Republican Study Committee, has been one of the most vocal critics of the January 6 panel.
And Representative Jim Banks joins me now.
Representative Banks, first, how do you see the hearing last night and the work that the committee is doing?
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN):
Well, sadly, last night was no different than what we have seen before.
It was a political exercise, truly a political witch-hunt that was focused more on the Democrats' obsession with Donald Trump than anything at all about Capitol security or investigating the events that led up to January 6, so we can prevent something like that from ever happening again,
I was very disappointed that there weren't specific questions and issues raised last night, as there has been throughout all of the activities of this committee, that addresses the concerns of rank-and-file Capitol Police officers, who tell me that they weren't prepared for what happened on January 6 because of a breakdown of how intelligence was gathered and disseminated.
They weren't equipped for it because they had outdated, faulty, and expired equipment. And they weren't trained for a riot at the Capitol. So all of those questions deserve answers. And those are the types of questions that, if I were the ranking member on the committee and was in the room last night, that's what we would have been focused on.
I know that you are leading a separate investigation, and we look forward to your report, what you want to look at about January 6 and those security concerns.
But I want to also give you a chance to answer really the main thrust of what the January 6 Committee is saying here. They are charging that President Trump was central to what they call a multistep conspiracy to overturn the election results and, indeed, in causing January 6 itself.
I asked you, does President Trump bear any responsibility?
Rep. Jim Banks:
Well, last night was so — what you saw was a series of selectively edited interviews. They recorded all of these interviews, but they didn't present the American people with any evidence that actually shows that Donald Trump directed the attack on the Capitol. They didn't present it because they don't have it.
I mean, I can't get over the fact that, in the president's speech that day at the White House, he told his supporters to go down to the Capitol and patriotically and peacefully make your voice heard.
And there's never been any evidence brought forward that shows that he did anything other than that. He didn't direct the attack. He didn't tell people to attack the Capitol, to break into the Capitol, cause violence toward Capitol Police officers.
There's no — there's no evidence so that he did that.
I do hear your words that former President Trump didn't direct an attack on the Capitol. He didn't say, please go break into the U.S. Capitol.I understand that.
We're a place where we can have room for nuance, and we're careful with wording here. My question, though, is that he does he bear any responsibility?
Again, I can't get past the lines in his speech when he told his supporters to go down to the Capitol and peacefully and patriotic — patriotically make your voice heard.
Now, Lisa, what I love about Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, is it's a place where you can go protest and make your voice heard, exercise your constitutional rights. And on that day, there were a lot of people who came to Washington, D.C., from my district, from all over the country who came to support a president who they supported. They felt like the election wasn't conducted in a proper way.
I have those same concerns about the constitutionality of how the election was conducted and states who changed election laws because of COVID leading up to Election Day. And people were upset about it. And they came to Washington to register that.
And that's a very — that's very American for people to do that. There were people, on the other hand, who broke into the Capitol, who were violent, who attack Capitol Police officers, and they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And the FBI has arrested hundreds of them, as they should.
And they should be — they should be held to a very high standard in the court of law.
I know that you are someone who served in Afghanistan. Honor is something that matters to you.
Liz Cheney said last night to those defending President Trump: "There will be a day when President Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain."
She believes this is a real danger to the country. How do you reflect on the longer -term implications? And how do you know that you are keeping your oath to your country higher than your duty to your party and one president?
Well, I take that question very seriously.
And let me tell you, Liz Cheney will not be the arbiter of whether or not I keep my oath to my country. First and foremost, let me make that very clear.
And never forget that this select committee has already been caught altering evidence. They have had to apologize for it. They doctored and altered text messages from Jim Jordan and others. And they were caught red-handed. And last night was a very — it was a — it was very theatrical, the way that the committee hearing was conducted last night, selectively edited pieces and parts of interviews.
That — to me, that's dishonorable. It's dishonorable that this isn't a bipartisan effort to give the American people the facts and the findings. There have been one — over 100,000 pages of evidence gathered by this committee, but they have only selectively offered the American people a very small part of it.
There are serious questions about how this committee has been conducted. And, to me, that ultimately is very dishonorable.
And one last thing. Do you agree there was no significant fraud in the 2020 election?
I based my vote to object on how states conducted their election without the approval of their state legislatures.
And that's a — that's a — that's a serious constitutional question that I believe deserved greater scrutiny and debate. I have never once talked about a — quote — "stolen election," Lisa. It wasn't about that to me. It was about the way that states, because of — using COVID as an excuse, went to all mail-in ballots, changed their election laws and how ballots were collected on Election Day without the approval of their state legislature.
I hear you saying, in other words, you're not saying that the election was stolen. You're saying there were process concerns you have.
Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana, thank you so much for joining us.
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