Pelosi freely admitted that her decision to turn back minority-party appointees to a committee — in this case, Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — is “unprecedented.” But she noted that the attacks on the Capitol were unprecedented, too.
Naturally, McCarthy howled. He vowed to pull back his other nominees, claiming that the panel had lost “all legitimacy and credibility” and that Republicans would “pursue our own investigation of the facts.”
We can look forward with great excitement as to how McCarthy and his colleagues choose to define “facts.” In the Trump era, facts have not been one of the strong suits of the former president’s party.
Indeed, Banks and Jordan should be seen as having disqualified themselves. From the start, Banks rejected the idea that the Jan. 6 attack aimed at overturning the results of a free election was worth investigating as a discretely dangerous act.
He issued a whataboutism-on-steroids statement on Monday declaring that the committee should study not only “the January 6 riot” but also “the hundreds of violent political riots last summer when many more innocent Americans and law-enforcement officers were attacked.”
Hey, why stop there? Banks’s goal was clearly to dilute and undercut the committee’s core purpose, so why not also propose investigating why Giannis Antetokounmpo is such an awesome basketball player or whether Major League Baseball should adopt my colleague George Will’s proposed reforms to its rules?
You can’t say that Pelosi and the Democrats didn’t try to have a fair investigation. But their plan to create a bipartisan, independent commission was shot down by Republicans, many of whom are plainly uneasy with a balanced inquiry. God forbid that it delve into Trump’s role in the violent insurrection and possibly also into the behavior of Republican members of Congress themselves.
By rejecting the sabotage-minded duo, Pelosi drew a thick line under a central reality of our politics: It is no longer possible to proceed normally when Republicans answer to a leader and his loyal base for whom reality is an inconvenience, fairly counted elections are a hindrance and outright lies are an accepted currency of politics.
As a CBS News-YouGov poll demonstrated last week, Trump Republicans live in a world of their own when it comes to Jan. 6.
The survey found that while 67 percent of Americans overall said the attack on the Capitol was an attempt to overturn the election, only 32 percent of Trump voters said this. Among all Americans, 56 percent called the events an insurrection; only 20 percent of Trump voters did. And while only 29 percent of all polled saw the attack as an act of “patriotism,” fully 51 percent of Trump voters cast it that way.
Will Republicans denounce any findings offered by a select committee with only Pelosi appointees — including, by the way, GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming? Sure. But McCarthy and his allies would have done that anyway. At least a panel without disrupters can systematically pursue the truth and follow the evidence. Old-fashioned it may be, but let’s allow its conclusions to stand or fall on the basis of their accuracy and fidelity to the known facts.
And if McCarthy actually cares about a fair process, he should allow the other three Republicans Pelosi welcomed — Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Troy E. Nehls of Texas — to join the committee and add two more. Or the three can ignore McCarthy and simply volunteer to serve.
It’s sad that matters have come to this: Instead of joining across party lines to get to the bottom of a violent attack on our democratic process, lawmakers are treating an insurrection as a partisan matter. Pelosi did not cause this. Trump and his enablers did.
To the surprise of many, Pelosi abandoned convention. With one dramatic act, she called out the extremists and exposed our political dysfunction. Whatever short-run grief she might take for doing so will be worth it for the lesson she has offered.