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Pelosi rejects two GOP picks for Jan. 6 investigatory committee

House Republicans wanted two anti-election members to serve on the Jan. 6 investigatory committee. Speaker Nancy Pelosi understandably refused.

Three weeks after the House voted to create a special select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) finally chose five members to serve on the panel. The Republican did not, however, choose wisely: three of McCarthy's five picks voted against certifying the 2020 election results, and each of the five opposed the creation of the investigatory committee itself.

The follow-up question was obvious: would House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accept the GOP leader's picks? As it turns out, no.

After explaining the historic significance of the insurrectionist attack, and the importance of the special select committee's work, Pelosi explained in a written statement this morning:

"Monday evening, the Minority Leader recommended 5 Members to serve on the Select Committee. I have spoken with him this morning about the objections raised about Representatives Jim Banks and Jim Jordan and the impact their appointments may have on the integrity of the investigation.... With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee.

The Democratic House Speaker added that she's prepared to appoint McCarthy's other selections -- Illinois' Rodney Davis of Illinois, North Dakota's Kelly Armstrong, and Texas' Troy Nehls -- but not Indiana's Banks or Ohio's Jordan.

"The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision," Pelosi concluded.

To be sure, this is a bold move on the Speaker's part, but it's entirely defensible. Of the House Republicans' five picks, Banks and Jordan were the only two who not only refused to certify the election results, but who also signed onto a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the justices to help overturn the presidential race.

What's more, Jim Jordan, a controversial Trump sycophant, is on record saying, "I don't know how you can ever convince me that President Trump didn't actually win this thing."

To the extent that the congressional GOP has a wing overtly hostile toward democracy, Banks and Jordan are members of that contingent. The idea that either of these Republicans were prepared to play a serious and constructive role in the investigation is plainly ridiculous.

Pelosi surely realizes that the partisan blowback will be ferocious, but she's apparently made the calculus that having these far-right members on the panel -- covering for Trump, undermining the process, making a circus of the proceedings -- would be worse than dealing with the GOP's outrage.

In theory, McCarthy could respond by choosing two more responsible members to fill the available slots, but that's not going to happen: There are new reports this afternoon that the minority will instead boycott the investigatory committee, pulling all five of his selections.

McCarthy said in a statement, “Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees, Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts.”

Of course, some side GOP "investigation" will lack subpoena power.

The circumstances will inevitably lead Republicans to argue that the special select committee, its examination, and its ultimate conclusions are "political" and "partisan," but let's not forget that Pelosi has already tapped one GOP member -- Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) -- to serve on the panel, which means the investigation will be bipartisan.

What's more, the Speaker has already made clear that the committee doesn't actually need McCarthy's picks to proceed.

The first hearing for the committee is currently scheduled for July 27, and by all appearances, it will happen, today's drama notwithstanding.

Postscript: In case this isn't obvious, let's not forget that Republican and Democratic members negotiated a compromise for an independent Jan. 6 commission, with an equal number of members appointed by both parties. GOP officials made a series of specific demands, and Democrats agreed to the terms.

Republican leaders then killed the proposal anyway.

As GOP officials seethe with outrage today in response to Pelosi, it's worth remembering that they've had ample opportunities to endorse a fair examination of the attack on the Capitol. Republicans clearly don't want one.