Whatever one may think of Donald Trump or the circumstances of last year’s election or even the bitterness of this nation’s partisan divide, it ought to be easy to condemn the events of Jan. 6 and to support a broad inquiry into what happened and how to prevent it from happening again. Sadly, Republicans in Congress can’t seem to recognize what should be an inescapable conclusion.
First, they opposed an independent commission modeled after the panel that looked into the events of 9/11. Next, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy attempted to undermine House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s backup plan, a 13-member bipartisan select committee charged with the same duties, by nominating five members who were, to put it mildly, mostly right-wing flamethrowers loyal to the former president. On Wednesday, Speaker Pelosi rejected the two worst, Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, leaving Reps. Rodney Davis, Kelly Armstrong and Troy E. Nehls. McCarthy then withdrew all five nominees and vowed not to cooperate with a “sham process” unless all five are seated.
It remains to be seen whether some reasonable standards of decency and intellectual honesty can be restored to what has, perhaps predictably, descended quickly into partisan squabbling. It’s not as if House Republicans have shown a lot of interest in the cause of justice prior to Wednesday. “Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and justify the left’s authoritarian agenda,” Banks, who would have been the group’s ranking member, previously posted on Twitter. And did we mention that three of the five initial nominees voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results after the insurrection? No doubt the first round of choices met with approval from Trump, with whom McCarthy just happened to meet at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, prior to announcing their appointment.