WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday rejected two Republicans tapped by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on a committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection including U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd.
McCarthy denounced the decision as “an egregious abuse of power” and said the GOP won't participate in the investigation if Democrats won't accept the members he appointed.
Pelosi cited the “integrity” of the probe in refusing to accept the appointments of Banks, picked by McCarthy to be the top Republican on the panel, or Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan. The two men are outspoken allies of former President Donald Trump, whose supporters laid siege to the Capitol that day and interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden's win. Both of them voted to overturn the election results in the hours after the siege.
Banks recently traveled with Trump to the U.S.-Mexico border and visited him at his New Jersey golf course. In a statement after McCarthy tapped him for the panel, he sharply criticized the Democrats who had set it up.
“Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left's authoritarian agenda,” Banks said.
Democrats whom Pelosi appointed to the committee this month were angry over that statement, according to a senior Democratic aide familiar with the private deliberations and who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss them. They were also concerned over Banks' two recent visits with Trump, the person said.
Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, was one of Trump's most vocal defenders during his two impeachments and last month likened the new investigation to “impeachment three.” Trump was impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate both times.
Democrats have said the investigation will go on whether the Republicans participate or not, as Pelosi has already appointed eight of the 13 members – including Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a Trump critic – and that gives them a bipartisan quorum to proceed, according to committee rules.
Pelosi said she had spoken with McCarthy and told him that she would reject the two names.
“With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Pelosi has the authority to approve or reject members, per committee rules, though she acknowledged her move was unusual. She said “the unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision.”
The move is emblematic of the raw political tensions in Congress that have only escalated since the insurrection and raises the possibility that the investigation – the only comprehensive probe currently being conducted of the attack – will be done almost entirely by Democrats. The House voted in May to create an independent investigation that would have been evenly split between the parties, but Senate Republicans blocked that approach in a vote last month.
McCarthy said Pelosi's move will damage the institution of Congress. “Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees, Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts,” McCarthy said.