The legitimacy of a select House committee tasked with investigating the Capitol insurrection is being questioned by most Republicans as it begins its work.
The deep dive into how January 6 happened gets started Tuesday with a hearing at which four police officers who fought the pro-Trump rioters will testify before the committee. The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol is authorized to have 13 members, eight selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and five named by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
The legislation creating the committee gave Speaker Pelosi the right to veto any of the GOP selections and last week she exercised that right, rejecting two of McCarthy's picks, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-OH, and Rep. Jim Banks, R-IN, both strong Trump supporters. Rep. Pelosi said that, given statements the two have made about January 6 and about the select committee, it would be "ridiculous" for them to serve and a waste of time to have them on.
"This is deadly serious," said Pelosi at her weekly news conference last Thursday. "This is about our constitution, it's about our country."
Indeed, it's a country with very deep divisions, as evidenced by the insurrection itself. The Speaker insists this investigation is not politically motivated, but rather critically important in making sure such an event doesn't happen again.
"We're there to seek the truth," Pelosi said, "we're there to get the truth, not to get Trump.
Minority leader McCarthy believes this is exactly about pinning the blame on former President Trump when there's evidence, he says, that the Speaker's office ignored intelligence weeks in advance that pointed to the possibility of a Capitol siege.
"Why was the Capitol so ill-prepared for that day when they knew on December 14 they had a problem?" asked Rep. McCarthy during a news conference last week.
Rep. Banks believes he and Jordan were removed because they might push to expose other explanations for the insurrection.
"She knows that we were prepared to fight to get to the truth, to find the facts about what happened that day to make sure January 6 would never happen, but she doesn't want to go down that path," said Rep. Banks at the same news conference. "She knew we would fight back on their political games, and that's why she doesn't want us to participate in this committee."
Leader McCarthy withdrew all five of his choices for the committee when he learned Pelosi had removed Banks and Jordan, saying the Republicans would conduct their own investigation.
Still, there are two Republicans who will be sitting on the committee when it commences business Tuesday morning. Rep. Liz Cheney, (R-WY), was one of Speaker Pelosi's own selections and, following word of the GOP's decision to boycott the committee, the Speaker invited Rep, Adam Kinzinger, (R-Il) to fill one of the vacancies. Both Cheney and Kinzinger have been outspoken critics of President Trump; they are two of the ten Republicans who voted to impeach him earlier this year and the only two who voted in favor of creating the select committee.
Rep. Cheney told reporters she believes Pelosi did the right thing in rejecting McCarthy's choices of Banks and Jordan.
"The rhetoric around this from the minority leader and from those two members," said Cheney on the steps of the Capitol, "has been disgraceful. "This must be an investigation that is focused on facts."
Oklahoma Congresswoman Stephanie Bice is not at all convinced that the committee will focus on the facts. Rep. Bice was one of the few dozen Republicans who voted in favor of creating an independent, 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 riot.
"Because it would’ve had the ability for the minority, the Republican side, to have a voice in the process," said Rep. Bice in an interview last week. "This is not going to be a bipartisan process at all."