House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced Monday that he will recommend five Republicans to serve on the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
The lawmakers met with McCarthy in his office at the Capitol on Monday evening. Afterward, Banks said in a statement that he has accepted McCarthy’s invitation to serve as the top Republican on the panel, “because we need leaders who will force the Democrats and the media to answer questions so far ignored.”
McCarthy traveled to Bedminster, N.J., last week to talk about the midterm elections with former president Donald Trump. But he told reporters Monday night at the Capitol that his committee picks were not a point of discussion, saying, “I’ve never talked to Donald Trump about this.”
McCarthy’s choices will need to be approved by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) before they can sit on the 13-member panel, according to the legislation passed by the House to establish the committee. A Pelosi aide said Monday night that the speaker had just received the names.
“Stay tuned,” said the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the topic.
News of McCarthy’s decision was first reported by Politico.
McCarthy told House Republicans a few days ago that he had chosen the lawmakers to serve on the committee, according to two people familiar with the events.
McCarthy told reporters Monday that he made his choices by looking across the House Republican Conference and picking members from an array of viewpoints and committee jurisdictions.
Davis, for example, serves as the ranking Republican on the House Administration Committee, which has already held hearings investigating the security failures that led to the Jan. 6 riot. Meanwhile, the minority leader applauded the leadership of Nehls, a former sheriff from Texas, in helping police block rioters from entering the House chamber.
All five of McCarthy’s chosen lawmakers voted against impeaching Trump after the attack on the Capitol, and three of them — Jordan, Banks and Nehls — voted to overturn the results of the November election.
“The mission is to make the facts that never put the Capitol Police or this Capitol in that position again,” McCarthy said. “You should never allow this place to be overrun. We will have protests and others again; it should never get to this situation.”
McCarthy’s choice for lead Republican on the panel, however, came out swinging against Democrats on Monday night.
In his statement, Banks criticized Pelosi by name, arguing that the speaker “created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda.” He also suggested that the committee should focus not just on Jan. 6, but also on “the hundreds of violent political riots last summer,” a proposal that Democrats earlier rejected.
“I will not allow this committee to be turned into a forum for condemning millions of Americans because of their political beliefs,” Banks said.
Pelosi moved to form the committee after Senate Republicans blocked an effort to create an independent, bipartisan commission. She has said the aim of the panel “has always been to seek and find the truth” about the Jan. 6 attack and the events surrounding it.
Earlier this month, she tapped Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) to chair the panel and announced her other appointments, including one Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.).
McCarthy opposed the creation of the committee and had repeatedly declined to say whether he planned to appoint members. At a news conference last month, he dodged questions on the subject.
Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” in the attack that resulted in five deaths, left some 140 members of law enforcement injured and was the worst assault on the Capitol in more than two centuries.
McCarthy demurred on Monday when asked whether Republicans plan to work with Cheney, saying that his members are ready to work with anyone serving on the select committee. McCarthy had initially threatened Republicans not to accept any offers by Pelosi to serve, warning that he would strip them of their committee assignments.
Asked whether he plans to remove Cheney from her position on the House Armed Services Committee, McCarthy replied, “I’ll let you know if that changes.”
The committee plans to kick off its investigation on July 27 by hearing from four police officers who responded to the rioting crowd, each of whom has already gone public with their accounts.
The four officers — Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police, and Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of the D.C. police — each experienced physical and verbal abuse from the rioters who stormed the Capitol. Each has also criticized those who have tried to minimize the seriousness of the attack and the objectives of rioters, who besieged Congress as lawmakers were gathered to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.
“It was absolutely my pleasure to crush a white-nationalist insurrection,” Hodges, who was pinned in a doorway during the attack, told NBC4 in Washington.
The House GOP ranks cover a spectrum, from members who voted to impeach Trump for the events of Jan. 6 to those who helped fire up the angry crowd of his supporters. McCarthy is somewhere in the middle: Despite saying early on that Trump “bears responsibility” for the Jan. 6 commission, he resisted efforts to establish a dedicated panel to investigate the causes of the riot.
That includes resisting the establishment of an independent commission, which 35 members of the House GOP voted in favor of this spring. But that venture failed in the Senate, and the House GOP has been almost universally opposed to the creation of the select committee.
McCarthy could be called to testify before the committee about his Jan. 6 phone call with Trump — a conversation he has described to others as distressing. A shaken McCarthy reportedly asked Trump to help calm the president’s supporters who had broken into the Capitol that afternoon, with some of them threatening to hang Vice President Mike Pence — who was at the Capitol to preside over the session to certify Biden’s election — and physically harm Pelosi.
Trump seemed uninterested, according to a statement from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who talked to McCarthy about the call. McCarthy has since given conflicting answers on whether he would testify about his contact with Trump on the day of the attack.
Jordan, meanwhile, has rejected the idea that he or others should be subpoenaed to testify about their interactions with Trump.
“I think this commission is ridiculous, and why would they subpoena me? I didn’t do anything wrong — I talked to the president,” Jordan said in May. “I talk to the president all the time. I just think that’s — you know where I’m at on this commission — this is all about going after President Trump. That seems obvious.”
It’s unclear if Jordan meant he spoke with Trump on Jan. 6. His office did not respond to a request at the time to clarify his remarks.
Jacqueline Alemany contributed to this report.