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GOP's McCarthy makes a weak pitch against the Jan. 6 committee

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has made a variety of arguments against the Jan. 6 special select committee. They're all wildly unpersuasive.


It's been two weeks since House members voted to create a special select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Soon after, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled her selections for the panel, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), at least for now, has refused to say whether he'll nominate any members to participate in the probe.

In the meantime, however, the GOP leader has presented a variety of arguments against the existence of the select committee, each of which are wildly unpersuasive. Let's take them one at a time.

June 25: McCarthy argued, "The FBI is the appropriate place to investigate."

The FBI is a law enforcement agency. It is not tasked with examining how and why the insurrectionist attack occurred, how other federal departments responded, or making recommendations on how best to prevent future violence in the Capitol. The idea that Justice Department investigations into suspected rioters are a substitute for studying the attack itself is plainly foolish.

July 2: Mike Shields, top strategist for McCarthy, said the Jan. 6 riot "affects no one's lives in this country."

This is an argument that the most serious attack on the citadel of our government since the War of 1812 isn't worthy of an investigation, since the pro-Trump riot just wasn't that important. Among the obvious problems with this is that McCarthy said largely the opposite six months ago, when he publicly endorsed a congressional "fact-finding" probe into the insurrectionist violence.

July 8: McCarthy complained that the newly created investigatory panel won't have an equal number of members from both parties and "only Democrats have subpoena power."

That's true, but it overlooks some relevant context. As McCarthy really ought to understand, Democratic officials reached a bipartisan agreement with Republicans on an independent commission in which there would be an equal number of members from both parties and it would've been impossible to issue subpoenas the GOP didn't like. McCarthy and other Republican leaders promptly killed the compromise deal after it had been negotiated.

July 8: McCarthy argued, "This is the least bipartisan committee you can find."

Well, no, actually it's not. For one thing, Pelosi voluntarily chose a conservative, red-state Republican member for her slate of committee investigators -- which is the opposite of being partisan -- and McCarthy has been invited to nominate additional Republicans, which would leave Democrats with a narrow seven-to-six advantage. For another, if McCarthy wanted a bipartisan panel, he and his party shouldn't have rejected the offer in which Democrats accepted all of the GOP's demands.

As for the House minority leader's good arguments against the committee's investigation, I'm still looking for them. I'll gladly update this post should any turn up.