Former congressman, shockingly corrupt Long Island Republican Peter King's column in this morning's Hill, was runner up for the dopiest column of the week-- close behind Alexi McCammond's incredibly lame Axios posting Liberals Sour On Bernie. King, age 77, retired when he could no longer deny his cascading senility, but instead of yelling from a rocking chair on his porch at the kid's who step on his lawn, he's an opinion contributor for The Hill.
Today he sought to blame Trump-caused problems that he was complicit in-- Russian aggressiveness, a sour economy (that Democrats are already turning around), race relations, crime-- on... progressives. One thing King and his congressional cronies in the GOP couldn't blame on progressives is their leader, Trump puppet Kevin McCarthy and the way he managed to bungle the select committee every chance he got. At least progressives will help prevent him from screwing up even worse by trying to appoint Marjorie Taylor Greene to disrupt it. So who will McCarthy appoint? Pelosi is allowing him 5 nominations, which she will approve or reject. She took a 6th away from him and appointed one of the few Republicans who takes the Trumpist coup attempt seriously, Liz Cheney.
Before dawn today, Punchbowl guessed that McCarthy will give his old foe Gym Jordan the role of leading the Republicans on the committee. Their other guesses are Mike Johnson (LA), Kelly Armstrong (ND), Jim Banks (IN), Rodney Davis (IL) or Bryan Steil (WI), Elise Stefanik (NY) or Jackie Walorski (IN) and either Jon Rutherford (FL) or Troy Nehls (TX). Defending the insurrection and undercutting the investigation could well be career-ending for Davis, Steil, Stefanik, Nehls and Walorski, all of whom are dependent on independent and swing voters for reelection.
In the four-and-a-half months since Speaker Nancy Pelosi first raised the idea of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, she and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have been locked in a slow-motion struggle over the issue.
It’s been a series of moves and countermoves, with Pelosi finally naming members of a select committee on Thursday.
And once again, as she has throughout this period, Pelosi pulled another one on McCarthy-- GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who was the number three House Republican until mid-May, agreed to be one of the speaker’s picks for the panel. This came a day after we reported that McCarthy had told GOP freshmen that any Republican who accepts a committee assignment from Pelosi may need to get all their committee assignments from Democrats.
That veiled threat failed to faze Cheney. She didn’t even bother to give McCarthy a heads-up about her decision to serve on the panel. “I think it’s clear to all the people on this committee that our oath to the Constitution, our duty, our dedication to the rule of law and the peaceful transfer of power has to come above any concern about partisanship or about politics,” Cheney told reporters. “That’s crucially important.”
Since Feb. 15, when she first called for a bipartisan commission to look into the insurrection by supporters of former President Donald Trump, Pelosi has repeatedly forced McCarthy back on the defensive. Pelosi has tried to push him into a political choice she knows McCarthy can’t make: between Trump, still the most powerful figure in the Republican Party and someone McCarthy can’t afford to alienate if he ever wants to become speaker, and his own responsibility toward the Congress as an institution.
Pelosi, in fact, has tried to make McCarthy himself the issue, and to a point, she’s succeeded. McCarthy has faced numerous questions about his interactions with Trump on Jan. 6. Many Democrats want to see him interviewed by the select committee, although it’s unclear whether that will happen. If it does, don’t be surprised if McCarthy asks the committee to interview Pelosi about her own actions on Jan. 6.
McCarthy initially objected in February to the number of GOP and Democratic seats on the proposed panel, and on how subpoenas would be issued, Pelosi agreed to his suggestions, only to have McCarthy change his position and raise a completely different objection over the scope of the investigation.
When Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the Homeland Security Committee, cut a deal in mid-May with GOP Rep. John Katko (NY), ranking member on Homeland, over legislation to create a bipartisan commission, McCarthy ended up publicly repudiating the agreement his own member made. Thirty-five House Republicans voted for the bill anyway, only to see it blocked by Senate Republicans.
And now with Cheney on the select committee, Pelosi has once more forced McCarthy into a tough situation. Compared to the proposal that Thompson and Katko hashed out-- or the compromise floated by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)-- the select committee approved by the House is bad format for McCarthy and the Republicans. There’s no time limit on the investigation, Republicans have no say in who or how many subpoenas can be issued and Pelosi has a veto over McCarthy’s appointments.
Even Republicans’ best arguments-- that Democrats are just trying to use the Jan. 6 attack against the GOP in 2022 and the current standing committees, as well as the FBI and Justice Department, could handle the probe-- have been blunted by what’s happened during the last four-plus months.
The media coverage will focus on Trump’s actions that day, what other Trump administration officials said and did, the Trump-McCarthy phone call and how the deployment of the National Guard was delayed-- mostly issues Republicans don’t like. McCarthy and his GOP allies will try to call into question security failures leading up to the attack, blaming Pelosi for the lack of preparation, yet Republicans can’t go too far in criticizing the U.S. Capitol Police, dozens of whose officers were injured during the bloody insurrection.
And all the while, Trump will be out there watching, complaining about any signs of GOP weakness he sees.