House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy laid out his complaints about the select committee on the Capitol riot in a press conference ahead of the first hearing of its first hearing.
Mr McCarthy said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was to blame for structural failures during the riot, which was started by supporters of former President Donald Trump who were trying to overturn the presidential election results.
He said there were questions within the structure of the speaker’s office and whether they were denied the authority to bring the National Guard. The Republican leader reiterated his questions about why the Capitol was ill-prepared and what could be done to prevent it again.
“Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi will only pick on people onto the committee that will ask the questions she wants asked,” Mr McCarthy said. “That becomes a failed committee and a failed report.”
Mr McCarthy had previously pulled his choices for the select committee after Speaker Pelosi refused to seat Reps Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana, both of whom are vociferous defenders of Mr Trump.
Republican Whip Steve Scalise said Ms Pelosi was trying to cover up facts she didn’t want the public to know and insisted Mr Jordan and Mr Banks were raising important questions.
“Now maybe because they were raising those questions, they got cancelled by this new cancel culture that we see moving throughout the country led by Speaker Pelosi and a lot of her socialist allies,” he said.
Mr Jordan accused Democrats of not being willing to have a strong security presence after they endorsed Black Lives Matter protests; a repeat of what he has said in the past about Democrats normalising violence.
“When you spend a year talking about defunding the police and actually defunding the police, it’s kind of hard to have more police here,” Mr Jordan said.
After McCarthy’s removal of his committee members, Mrs Pelosi also appointed Illinois Rep Adam Kinzinger, a Republican who voted to create the select committee and to impeach Mr Trump.
One of Mrs Pelosi’s initial choices was fellow Republican Rep Liz Cheney, who also voted to impeach Trump. She was subsequently replaced as Republican conference chairwoman by Rep Elise Stefanik, who has previously criticised Ms Pelosi.
“She’s an authoritarian who has broken the people’s House,” Ms Stefanik said of Ms Pelosi. “She is a lame duck speaker and everyone knows it.”
Mr McCarthy’s other selections included Troy Nehls of Texas, Rodney Davis of Illinois and Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, whom Pelosi did not pull from the committee. However, they also opted not to participate.
“This is the only situation in the history of a select committee by a speaker to try to pre-determine what can be asked and what the results can take place,” he said.
Mr Nehls laid into Mr Kinzinger and Ms Cheney, both for being on the committee and for their frequent criticisms of Mr Trump.
“The only so-called Republicans on the committee are on the committee to grandstand and attack the former president because of their own personal vendettas,” he said. “Those Pelosi Republicans are not interested in the truth. They’re interested in getting even.”
Rep Hakeem Jeffries, who is chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, decried Republicans’ attacks on Mrs Pelosi.
“The fact that Kevin McCarthy continues to blame Speaker Pelosi is just such a sick and cynical act of diversion and distraction,” he said. Mr Jeffries added that Mr Trump was the primary person responsible for the insurrection.
“The notion that Speaker Pelosi is concerned about what a few crackpots might have endeavoured to contribute to the seriousness of the inquiry because she’s concerned about what it may reveal about herself is ludicrous,” Mr Jeffries said.
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