Pelosi announces House select committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection

Ever since the January 6 commission was tanked by the Senate GOP, Joe Manchin has made noise about potentially revisiting the issue and trying to get 60 Republicans onboard after all. Pelosi’s not waiting around and holding her breath, though. Now that she’s moving ahead with a House investigation, the remote chance that Senate R’s might come around on a commission will drop to absolute zero.

The new House select committee will consolidate the investigations already being conducted by other House committees. No personnel have been named yet but it seems likely that Bennie Thompson, the head of the Homeland Security Committee, will end up as chair.

There’s one interesting question off the bat. Which Republicans will be appointed? Watch, then read on.

Kevin McCarthy, not Pelosi, gets to decide who fills the Republican slots on the panel. “I hope that Kevin will appoint responsible people to the committee,” Pelosi said today, unconvincingly, knowing that the odds of that happening are about as remote as the Senate changing its mind on a commission. Because Trump is vocally opposed to a January 6 investigation, McCarthy’s destined to name MAGA trolls like Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz who’ll try to disrupt the proceedings and change the subject. (Maybe John Katko, who negotiated the January 6 commission for the House GOP, will get a slot as a consolation prize for the commission’s failure. Then again, since he voted to impeach Trump, maybe not.) Which means the only real suspense surrounding the committee will need to be answered by Pelosi herself.

Namely, will she appoint Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger to one of the seats allotted for Democrats?

I remember reading somewhere after the House impeachment vote that Kinzinger had requested five minutes of floor time that day from Pelosi to speak about Trump and the insurrection. Other members were granted only one minute of time but Kinzinger was no ordinary member. He was a Republican willing to harshly criticize his own party’s leader, bolstering the Democratic case for impeaching Trump. For reasons I’ll never understand, Pelosi wouldn’t give him the five minutes. Evidently she thought it was more important to make sure enough of her own members had the time they sought to speak than to give that time to Kinzinger to make a memorable bipartisan case for removing Trump.

Will she make that same mistake again with the select committee, reserving slots for her own members when she could put Cheney or Kinzinger on it instead? Remember, the GOP will attack the committee relentlessly on grounds that it’s a witch hunt run by Democratic hyperpartisans. (That’s why Senate Republicans tanked the commission. It would have been harder to discredit on partisan grounds than Pelosi’s committee will be.) The obvious countermove is to put Cheney or Kinzinger on the panel even if that means the committee ends up with a nominal Republican majority. Despite their party affiliation, Cheney and Kinzinger aren’t going to bury the facts or try to obstruct the Dem effort to find out what Trump and McCarthy knew. They’re already de facto conservative independents but for purposes of this committee they’ll be de facto Democrats.

For instance, having listened to both of them over the past five months, how do you think either would react to this insanity that’s circulating today? Would they defend it or make excuses for it?

No Democrats would have more contempt for that than Cheney or Kinzinger would, especially once they knew how excited QAnon fans got about that clip and the prospect it raised of killing political enemies by the thousands. Same goes for this gruesome poll result, I expect:

Nearly half of all Republicans agreed that they would have supported state legislatures staging a de facto coup on Trump’s behalf by overriding the popular vote in their states on a claim of massive fraud so thin that even Bill Barr wouldn’t support it. Of the other half of Republicans who didn’t agree, how many would have gone along with it anyway if it had happened, retreating into the fact that it was “technically legal” or whatever in the name of keeping Trump in power? Half? Maybe more?

Pelosi’s a nut if she doesn’t offer Cheney a slot here. And Cheney would accept, I think, notwithstanding the fact that it would further poison her reelection bid in Wyoming once she’s seen as doing Pelosi’s handiwork on the committee. Cheney has clearly come to prioritize her civic duties over her professional self-interest since the insurrection. Being appointed to the select committee by Pelosi would be a logical extension of that. I bet she’d agree.