Pelosi Had No Choice But To Keep Jordan & Banks Off The Trump Coup Investigation
This morning, Politico's early morning Playbook team noted that the investigation into the 1/6 insurrection "should be among the most important oversight investigations Congress has ever conducted." Yes, it should be. But serial Republican obstruction and coverup has prevented anything from having happened so far. That's about to end, especially after McCarthy's latest ploy-- stocking the panel with disrupters and seditionists-- backfired in his face. Rachael Bade, Ryan Lizza, et all wrote that "When Republicans voted against an outside bipartisan commission to investigate the siege because of what it might turn up in an election year, we called them out for acting in cowardice," also noting that new polling "finds that Republican voters are increasingly sympathetic to the rioters-- making a probe that’s credible to the right even more important."
Yes, Republicans were calling the investigation and sham and vowing to undermine it even before she removed Reps. Gym Jordan (OH) and Jim Banks (IN). But now Republicans are armed with a legitimate grievance: that the House speaker has decided to police which lawmakers on the other side get to sit on an investigative panel.
Democrats defended Pelosi's power play on a few grounds:
If Joran spoke to Donald Trump on January 6, he could be considered a witness, and possibly one to be subpoenaed by the committee. (We haven’t heard whether Democrats intend to do so.)
Some Democrats think Danny Republican who objected to the Electoral College results should be barred from serving on the panel. But Pelosi ousted only two of the three Republicans who did so, suggesting this was not her guiding motivation.
...If Pelosi gave McCarthy a gift for his own base Wednesday, McCarthy handed the speaker one in return for hers: His announcement that he would withdraw all his members from the panel unless she reverses course is exactly what a lot of Democrats were hoping for. Now, Democrats (plus Rep. Liz Cheney) can subpoena whomever they want, whenever they want, without any protest. If they decide to have closed-door depositions with Trump White House officials, the former president will have no spies in the room to report back. And the public hearings will be free of GOP complaints. In that regard, perhaps, Pelosi may say the move was worth it.
Philip Bump has also recognized that rank-and-file Republicans are increasingly following their leaders in dismissing the seriousness of the insurrection, in great part because of the way far right media has covered-- and hasn't covered-- the attempted coup. People watching Fox get around a quarter of the coverage that people watching non-right-wing networks get. "It’s likely," wrote Bump, "that they have not been updated on new arrests and new video footage depicting the chaos. And because views of the insurrection are necessarily intertwined with partisanship, it’s possible that more-generous views of the rioters’ actions are more a reflection of partisan alignment than of actual generosity toward a mob that attacked law enforcement officers and posed an immediate risk to lawmakers even as they tried to undercut the 2020 presidential election.
The CBS-YouGov poll asked Americans if they approved of the actions of those who forced their way into the Capitol. Most said that they strongly disapproved of the attack. Among Republicans, though, only about 4 in 10 said they strongly disapproved-- with a quarter saying they approved of the rioters’ actions, if only somewhat.
The pollsters asked the same thing in a January poll. Then, more than half of Republicans strongly disapproved of the rioters’ actions. In other words, there has been a measurable softening in opposition to that violence on the right.
We see something similar in another question asked by CBS and YouGov. Respondents were offered a number of descriptors that might apply to the violence and were asked whether they thought those descriptions were apt. More than half of Trump voters said that it was fair to describe the attack as an example of “patriotism” or of “defending freedom.” Most Americans, by contrast, considered it an effort to overturn the election or overthrow the government.
...Why? Clearly in part because so many sincerely believe the false claim that millions of illegal votes were cast in the 2020 presidential election. This assertion, promoted by President Donald Trump even before the election itself, is now approaching something akin to a proven fact on the right, despite it being neither proved nor factual in any sense whatsoever. It was the primary motivation of those who sought to overrun the Capitol on Jan. 6, this idea that the election was stolen and that they were pushing back on that usurpation of power. That’s why many view the riot as patriotic or a defense of freedom: If you sincerely believe that the election was stolen, however incorrectly, why would you not approve of an effort to revert the results?
...It’s not hard to see how rickety everything becomes as a result. If millions of Americans can be convinced of the reality of something that is demonstrably untrue-- that is, that rampant illegal voting occurred last year-- they can be convinced that the entire political system is being or has been upended. And if that has happened, why shouldn’t acts of political violence be considered a possible response?
Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman co-wrote the Plum Line this morning, asserting that all Americans should be thankful that McCarthy "pulled Republicans out of any involvement in the select committee to examine the Jan. 6 insurrection. In so doing, he ensured that the committee’s investigation will both have more integrity and be more likely to undertake a valuable accounting. Which goes to a larger truth about this moment: Efforts at a real examination of arguably the worst outbreak of political violence in modern times-- and efforts to protect our democracy more broadly-- will not be bipartisan. These things will be done by Democrats alone."
By pulling out, McCarthy has boosted the committee’s legitimacy and credibility immeasurably. The less involved McCarthy is with this committee, the more likely it will be to undertake a genuine and comprehensive accounting.
McCarthy’s picks were expressly designed to prevent that accounting. This is not speculation or a mere guess at McCarthy’s motives. It is unavoidably clear from the public statements and conduct of Banks and Jordan themselves.
Banks’s first act on getting named by McCarthy was to release a statement declaring that the committee must investigate the “hundreds of violent political riots” in which “many more innocent Americans and law-enforcement officers were attacked.”
That’s an explicit declaration that the insurrection and President Donald Trump’s incitement of it should not be the focus of the committee and is a less serious matter than those riots.
Similarly, after Jordan was picked, he immediately declared he wants to serve on the committee because “this is impeachment Round 3,” unwittingly revealing-- or perhaps unabashedly declaring-- that he saw his role as solely a means for working to exonerate Trump.
What’s more, Jordan had already played a prominent role in spreading the very lies about the 2020 election that helped inspire the insurrection the committee will be investigating. Given that the committee is charged with probing the causes of the violence-- and that those lies are a major cause-- any real accounting must also implicate Republicans such as Jordan.
On top of all this, remember that McCarthy could have exercised even more control over the investigation-- yet declined. Back in May, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), the Homeland Security Committee chair, announced an agreement with the ranking Republican on an evenly divided 10-member bipartisan commission, with both parties having veto power over subpoenas.
Guess who voted against that commission? McCarthy, Banks and Jordan did.
All three also voted to object to President Biden’s electors, a vote that represented the culmination of the lies this committee will investigate as a cause of the violence.
There’s another hidden dynamic here, too: McCarthy and Jordan are very likely witnesses themselves. McCarthy made a frantic appeal to Trump to call off the rioters; he likely has firsthand experience of Trump’s truly sociopathic and insurrectionist intentions that day.
And Jordan was present in a Dec. 21 White House meeting with Trump and others, at which they discussed how to overturn Biden’s electors on the day of what would become the insurrection. What was said at that meeting will be of great interest to the committee.
“Anyone who is a material witness to the key events leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection doesn’t really belong on the committee,” Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-MD), a member of the select committee, told us.
“The investigative inquiry is being shaped right now,” Raskin continued, “but those are likely to be key events in the chronology.”
Here’s the bottom line: By nixing Banks and Jordan, Pelosi actually protected the integrity of the committee’s investigation, from their openly advertised intention to misdirect, disrupt and sabotage it. By appointing publicly committed saboteurs, McCarthy openly advertised the same intention.
The conventions of political reporting are such that this basic and obvious truth will not be faithfully rendered in press accounts. But it follows from a straightforward interpretation of the statements and conduct of those Republicans themselves.
This latest attempt by McCarthy to sabotage a credible investigation will also serve as an excuse for him (and Jordan) to refuse to testify. Just wait for that drama! There was never any chance McCarthy was going to allow himself to be sworn in as a witness where he would have to choose between committing perjury or political suicide.