It was just a few weeks ago when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, struggling to impress some of his more radical members, indicated he intended to get answers about Jan. 6. Unfortunately, however, the Republican leader wasn’t interested in the attack on the Capitol or the efforts to undermine our democracy.
Rather, McCarthy said he wanted an investigation into the investigation of Jan. 6, telling the bipartisan select committee to preserve its records so that GOP officials could scrutinize its work.
Much of this was political theater — the committee was already required to save its documents, so McCarthy’s demand was unnecessary — but the underlying point was that Republicans intended to respond to the Jan. 6 committee by going after its work.
Three weeks later, the party appears to have changed its mind.
Republican Rep. James Comer, who’ll soon take over as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told NBC News late last week, “We’ve got a pretty lengthy list of investigations and probes and [the Jan. 6 committee is] not on the list.” The Kentucky congressman elaborated on this point yesterday with ABC News.
Despite pressure from far-right figures, and even signals from leadership and members inside the Republican caucus, incoming chairs of the House Oversight Committee and the House Judiciary Committee told ABC News they are more focused on probes into COVID-19 funding, the border, and President Joe Biden’s family rather than relitigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol or investigating the investigators.
Asked specifically about his Jan. 6 interest, Comer added, “Right now, that’s not anywhere on my list.”
At face value, this isn’t too surprising. Comer has made no secret of the fact that he’s fixated on Hunter Biden, and given the fact that the president’s son has nothing to do with the Jan. 6 attack or Team Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of an election, it stands to reason that the House Oversight Committee would focus its attention elsewhere, McCarthy’s theatrics notwithstanding.
But my MSNBC colleague James Downie touched on a related point this week: “[M]aybe the GOP decided that what the committee has found, no matter how they spin it, just won’t make Trump — or Republicans — look good.”
Quite right. The dirty little secret on Capitol Hill is that Democrats heard about GOP efforts to investigate the investigation, and they didn’t mind in the slightest. The more Republicans talked about the attack, the scrutiny of who was responsible for the assault, and the voluminous evidence compiled by congressional investigators, the better.
McCarthy wanted to spend parts of next year reviewing the committee and its efforts? Democrats weren’t intimidated by that idea; they welcomed it. Comer’s lack of interest makes far more sense from a GOP perspective.
That said, as the Jan. 6 committee prepares to unveil its final report later today, we apparently haven’t heard the last word from Republicans on the subject: The far-right GOP members who were originally slated to participate in the investigation will reportedly release a counter-report sometime this week.