A couple of weeks ago, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) peddled his usual foolish line about the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol, arguing that the Jan. 6 riot was largely a "peaceful protest." The Wisconsin Republican added, however, "I'm doing my own investigation to really accurately recreate what happened on January 6th."
In other words, there will be official examinations of the deadly violence, and then there will be a side project overseen by a GOP senator known for embracing strange conspiracy theories.
It was against this backdrop that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), after two of his five selections for a Jan. 6 select committee were rejected, said his Republican conference would have its own investigation, too.
Calling [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi's move an abuse of power, McCarthy then vowed in a statement to withdraw all of his picks and said Republicans "will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts."
Given the circumstances, "investigation" is probably a generous choice of words. The congressionally approved special select committee, which is proceeding with its official probe, will have dedicated staff and subpoena power. The House GOP's side exercise will apparently be little more than an unfortunate partisan stunt.
At a Capitol Hill press conference yesterday, McCarthy vowed, "We will make sure we get to the real answers." Real answers to which questions? "We will look at anything that caused this place not be protected," the minority leader added.
Around the same time, House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) issued a rather unhinged statement insisting that Pelosi is afraid of the American people finding out the truth that her failed leadership and the gross mismanagement of the U.S. Capitol led to the tragic events that day."
In case this was too subtle, McCarthy appeared on Fox News last night and suggested the House Speaker may have made "a decision" not to have the National Guard protecting the Capitol on Jan. 6.
So let's take stock. Earlier this year, a violent mob, incited by Donald Trump, tried to prevent the certification of an American election. It was, by any measure, the most serious attack on the U.S. Capitol, the citadel of our government, in more than two centuries.
Republican leaders rejected an independent commission to investigate the assault. Republican leaders then opposed the creation of a congressional select committee to investigate the assault. Republican leaders then tried to add unserious Trump sycophants, one of whom may be a material witness in the investigation, to the investigatory panel.
And now Republican leaders, thwarted in their effort to cover up the former president's wrongdoing, are gearing up to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the Jan. 6 riot.
I realize that some of the coverage of these developments is stressing the idea that "both parties have attacked the other as insincere," but only one of those parties has a legitimate case to make.