Pelosi Bars Trump Loyalists From Jan. 6 Inquiry, Prompting a G.O.P. Boycott

Democrats said Representatives Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, who amplified Donald J. Trump’s lies of a stolen election and opposed investigating the assault, could not be trusted to scrutinize it.


Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved on Wednesday to bar two of former President Donald J. Trump’s most vociferous Republican defenders in Congress from joining a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, saying their conduct suggested they could not be trusted to participate.

In an unusual move, Ms. Pelosi announced that she was rejecting Representatives Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio, both of whom amplified Mr. Trump’s false claims of election fraud, joined their party’s efforts to challenge President Biden’s victory on Jan. 6 and have opposed efforts to investigate the assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters. She agreed to seat the other three Republicans who had been chosen for the panel.

But Ms. Pelosi said she could not allow the pair to take part, based on their actions around the riot and comments they had made undercutting the investigation. Mr. Banks, who has equated the deadly attack to unrest during the racial justice protests last summer, said the Jan. 6 inquiry was created to “malign conservatives and to justify the left’s authoritarian agenda.” Mr. Jordan, one of the biggest cheerleaders of Mr. Trump’s attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 election, pressed Mr. Trump’s false claims of election fraud on the House floor as protesters breached the Capitol, and has called the select committee “impeachment Round 3.”

The speaker’s decision drew an angry response from Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, who announced that Republicans would boycott the panel altogether. He seized on Ms. Pelosi’s intervention as confirmation of his charge that the investigation was nothing more than a political exercise to hurt the G.O.P.

The partisan brawl, unfolding even before the select committee has begun its work, underscored the difficult task it faces in scrutinizing an attack on the lawmakers now charged with dissecting it. It was also the latest evidence of how poisonous relations have become between the two parties, especially in the House, in the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s defeat and the violent bid to block certification of the outcome.

Many Democrats no longer wish to work with or hear from Republicans who helped spread Mr. Trump’s lie of a stolen election, especially those who led the effort and have sought to downplay the severity and significance of the assault that it inspired. Some said allowing two of the most prominent defenders to serve on a panel examining the attack was akin to allowing criminals to investigate their own crimes.

In a statement, Ms. Pelosi said she had rejected Mr. Banks and Mr. Jordan “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.”

“The unprecedented nature of Jan. 6 demands this unprecedented decision,” she added.

A visibly agitated Mr. McCarthy hastily called a news conference to condemn Ms. Pelosi’s move and accuse her of excessive partisanship. He pledged to carry out a Republican-only investigation into the events of Jan. 6, focused on how Ms. Pelosi should have done more to protect the Capitol from a mob of Trump loyalists.

“Why was the Capitol so ill-prepared for that day, when they knew on Dec. 14 that they had a problem?” Mr. McCarthy said, referring to Democrats. “Pelosi has created a sham process.”

In a television studio on Capitol Hill, Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Banks and Mr. Jordan — appearing with the three other Republicans chosen to sit on the panel — sought to divert blame for the riot from Mr. Trump and their own political supporters who carried it out, instead faulting Democrats who they said had not adequately planned for the onslaught.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, the chairman of the select committee, said he would “not be distracted by sideshows” and pledged to move forward with the panel’s work, including its first public hearing next week where Capitol and District of Columbia police officers are set to testify about how they fought off the mob.


Ms. Pelosi had quietly debated her options with Democratic members of the panel, who had expressed reservations about allowing firebrands like Mr. Jordan and Mr. Banks to serve on the committee.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Ms. Pelosi had quietly debated her options with Democratic members of the panel, who had expressed reservations about allowing firebrands like Mr. Jordan and Mr. Banks, so closely associated with Mr. Trump’s efforts to undermine the election, to serve alongside them.

“There are people who want to derail and thwart an investigation and there are people who want to conduct an investigation,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the panel. “That’s the fault line here.”

Democrats received high-profile backing from Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Mr. McCarthy’s former No. 3 whom Ms. Pelosi appointed to the committee after she was ousted from her leadership position in May for criticizing Mr. Trump.

“The rhetoric that we have heard form the minority leader is disingenuous,” Ms. Cheney told reporters on the steps of the Capitol. “At every opportunity, the minority leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened, to block this investigation.”

She said Ms. Pelosi had been right to bar Mr. Jordan and Mr. Banks from the panel, saying that Mr. Jordan was a potential “material witness” and Mr. Banks had “disqualified himself” with recent comments disparaging the committee’s work.

Mr. Banks has come under criticism for arranging a recent trip for House Republicans to join Mr. Trump at the southwestern border, in which a participant in the Capitol riot at times served as a translator. He had also released a combative statement Monday night in which he blamed the Biden administration for its response to the riot — which occurred during the final days of the Trump administration — and said he would not allow the committee “to be turned into a forum for condemning millions of Americans because of their political beliefs.”

On Wednesday, both he and Mr. Jordan accused Ms. Pelosi of failing to secure the Capitol from the rioters, who stalked her through the corridors on Jan. 6, chanting “Nancy.”

Congressional leaders do not oversee security in the Capitol, though they hire those who do. It is controlled by the Capitol Police Board, which includes the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and the architect of the Capitol. At the time of the attack, the House sergeant-at-arms, Paul D. Irving, had been on the job since 2012, when he was hired under Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio. The Senate sergeant-at-arms at the time, Michael Stenger, was hired in 2018 when Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, led the chamber.

Mr. Jordan, who has called the committee’s work a political attack on Mr. Trump, was among a group of House Republicans who met with the former president in December to help plan the effort to challenge Mr. Biden’s victory. Democratic members of the select committee were considering calling him as a witness in their investigation.

Ms. Cheney reportedly clashed with Mr. Jordan on the House floor on Jan. 6, blaming him for the riot, according to a new book by two reporters for The Washington Post.

Ms. Pelosi had said she would accept Mr. McCarthy’s three other nominees to the panel — Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois, Representative Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Representative Troy Nehls of Texas — and said she encouraged Mr. McCarthy to offer two new picks to replace Mr. Jordan and Mr. Banks.

But following Mr. McCarthy’s lead, those three also said they would not participate.

“I was certainly prepared to help this committee get to the truth,” said Mr. Nehls, brandishing a binder of research. “But unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi has shown she’s more interested in playing politics.”

Leave a Reply