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Pelosi Blocks Trump Loyalists From Committee Studying Insurrection

Ahead of the debut hearing of a select committee investigating this January’s attack on the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi excluded two allies of former President Donald Trump from the pool of member nominees.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi put the kibosh Wednesday on two of GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s picks to a committee that gets underway next week investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol.

Pelosi made the announcement in a statement Wednesday, rejecting the nominations of Representatives Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio. Both Republican lawmakers voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in January as the House and Senate convened for the traditional counting of electoral votes. An insurrection waylaid the first attempt of that ceremony, following a rally where Trump insisted against all evidence to the contrary that the election was stolen from him.

House Leader McCarthy, a California Republican, rolled out his nominees for the committee last week. In addition to Jordan and Banks, he also named Representatives Troy Nehls of Texas, Rodney Davis of Illinois and Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota.

Like Jordan and Banks, Nehls voted to overturn the election results. Armstrong and Davis were the sole Republicans named by McCarthy who voted in favor of certifying Biden’s win.

Though Pelosi agreed to Nehls, Davis and Armstrong, McCarthy announced less than an hour later he was withdrawing all five nominees from his party.

McCarthy’s decision to yank his picks does little more than delay participation of additional Republicans in the probe.

“Denying the voices of members who have served in the military and law enforcement, as well as leaders of standing committees has made it undeniable this panel has lost all legitimacy and credibility and shows the speaker is more interested in playing politics than seeking the truth,” McCarthy said in a written statement Wednesday.

Pelosi named Republican lawmaker Liz Cheney to the committee, along with seven Democrats on July 1.

Responding to the developments on Wednesday, the select committee’s chairman Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi slammed McCarthy, saying Republican leadership has been met “more than halfway” to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding January 6 for weeks. 

“Today, the speaker, by exercising her authority under H.Res. 503, again took decisive action to bring us closer to delivering the answers that the American public seek about this attack on our democracy. This is about the integrity of the investigation. Period,” Thompson said.

Representative Banks serves in the U.S. Navy Reserve as a supply corps officer and deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom and Freedom’s Sentinel.

Jordan does not appear to have any background in law enforcement. Nehls, however, is a former longtime police officer and onetime sheriff for Fort Bend. Notably, the Richmond, Texas, Police Department fired Nehls in 1998 for destroying evidence. During the attack of the Capitol, the freshman member Nehls said he attempted to negotiate with rioters as U.S. Capitol Police struggled to keep order.

Pelosi said Wednesday, before McCarthy withdrew his nominees, that she was “prepared to accept” Nehls, Davis and Armstrong.

In response to McCarthy’s objections that the committee would be partisan hackery to its core, a spokesperson for Pelosi responded Wednesday saying: “The panel is already bipartisan and has a quorum. There’s nothing partisan about seeking the truth.”

The tug of war ramped up even further Wednesday when McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill that he will look at pursuing his own probe of Capitol security failures.

The first hearing of the select committee probing the attack kicks off July 27, and the first witnesses will be law enforcement officials from the U.S. Capitol Police as well as the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C.

A smattering of congressional committees has already met in the last six months to unpack some of the security and intelligence failures that occurred before and during the attack. The inaugural hearing next week will feature testimony from U.S. Capitol Police officers Harry Dunn and Aquillino Gonnell, as well as Metro police officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges.

Dunn, a Black officer, was chased throughout the Capitol by throngs of rioters and supporters of President Donald Trump. Dunn was on the receiving end of vicious racial slurs dozens of times. Gonnell was hit with a flagpole by rioters, had his hand lacerated and was nearly trampled. Hodges was squeezed tightly and nearly crushed to death when a mob pressed him into a doorway as people attempted to gouge out his eyes, beat him with his own baton and rip his mask off.

Grilled by reporters about how his party would conduct oversight of the siege, McCarthy said at a press conference Wednesday, “we will go through and get answers.” Flanking McCarthy for these remarks were Jordan, Banks and other former nominees.

One of the grievances the Republican cited with the select committee was that it failed to "go far enough."

That critique hinges on the committee's focus being narrowed to events around Jan. 6 only, not security of the Capitol broadly. McCarthy has requested the committee also probe the death of U.S. Capitol Police officer Billy Evans who died on April 2 after a driver rammed into a barricade on the north side of the Capitol complex.

Follow Brandi Buchman on Twitter

Categories:Government, National, Politics

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