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The line blurs between GOP's extremists and GOP's leaders

Some will argue there's an important difference between GOP radicals and the party's mainstream leaders. Today, those lines appear awfully blurry.

The bipartisan House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack formally began its examination this morning, holding a public hearing with testimony from police officers who defended the Capitol against pro-Trump insurrectionist rioters.

For far-right Republicans, the hearing creates a challenge: pushing back against the truth, presented in a powerful and public way, isn't easy.

To that end, some of the House GOP's most extremist members -- Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) -- are reportedly headed to the Justice Department today to protest the "treatment of Jan. 6th prisoners."

Some will no doubt argue that it's easy to look past these clownish lawmakers. There's an important difference, observers will say, between the Republican conference's most radical members and its more mainstream leaders. But this morning, those lines appeared awfully blurry.

Elise Stefanik of New York, who was selected as the House GOP Conference chair after select committee member Liz Cheney was ousted from the No. 3 leadership position, said, "The American people deserve to know the truth that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as Speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6...."

The New York Republican added that Pelosi "prioritized her partisan political optics" over the safety of the Capitol Police.

Stefanik made the depraved comments -- which she read from a prepared text -- at a capitol Hill press conference. She was joined, of course, by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who also tried to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), again, for the violence from the pro-Trump mob.

The Speaker's office has already discredited the ridiculous effort to shift the blame, and the bogus claims are largely self-defeating: if Pelosi, who was in danger during the riot, was ultimately responsible for the right-wing violence, why are Republicans so eager to cover up what transpired on Jan. 6?

But Stefanik, indifferent to how much worse her remarks appeared when juxtaposed with this morning's testimony, was nevertheless eager to play her pitiful partisan role.

The New York Republican's comments this morning come less than a week after Stefanik issued a separate written statement accusing Pelosi of "destroying this country" -- reinforcing concerns that the difference between the GOP's extremists and the GOP's leaders isn't nearly as great as it should be.

As this morning's committee hearing got underway, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said, "We must know what happened here at the Capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during and after the attack.

"If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our Constitutional Republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system."

The contrast between the former House Republican Conference chair and her successor couldn't have been greater.