House votes to approve January 6 select committee, with only two Republicans voting yes

AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

You can guess who the two were at this point.

If there was any surprise today, it’s that only two of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in February opted to support the select committee. “Makes sense,” you might say. “The smart move post-impeachment is to lie low and try to lull Trump and MAGA to sleep by not antagonizing them further. A no vote today was the obvious play.”

I get that, but … all 10 voted for the bipartisan January 6 commission that ended up being filibustered in the Senate last month. Why do that if the plan was to not piss Trump off after impeachment? And why do any of them think that might work? It was just days ago that Trump turned up in Ohio for a rally against Anthony Gonzalez, one of the 10 pro-impeachment Republicans. Gonzalez voted yes on the commission but no on today’s select committee. He can’t seriously believe Trump’s going to give him a pass for that.

The thinking here, I guess, is that it was a matter of civic duty to support a bipartisan commission that would have been drawn from former elected officials but it would be stupid to endorse Pelosi’s Democrat-heavy House committee.

The table was set for a (nearly) party-line vote against the committee when John Katko came out against it yesterday. Not only did Katko vote to impeach, he negotiated the January 6 committee resolution on behalf of House Republicans, which 35 of them ended up supporting. There had even been chatter that Pelosi might appoint Katko to the new select committee. All of that went up in smoke when Katko said he’d vote no:

That’s the message McCarthy and Scalise have wanted from the start about Democratic efforts to investigate January 6. It’s a partisan witch hunt, thoroughly illegitimate, and therefore anything damning it might discover about Trump or the complicity of certain House Republicans in the day’s events should be dismissed as illegitimate too. Katko, a McCarthy ally (before McCarthy sandbagged him by opposing the January 6 commission), did his leadership a favor with yesterday’s statement. It seems to have had the desired effect, giving cover to nearly every House Republican to oppose the committee today. I wonder what McCarthy promised him in return.

In the end, only the two de facto independents, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, voted yes. I would have preferred a bipartisan commission, Cheney said in a statement this afternoon, but if it’s a choice between a select committee and nothing, I’ll take the committee. She also reminded Republican leaders why the subject of the election and January 6 can’t be dropped — because Trump himself won’t drop it. Note the first paragraph here.

After the vote, she visited Capitol Police officers who were watching from the House gallery and gave Brian Sicknick’s mother a hug. Kinzinger made the same point as Cheney in his own statement, stressing that a commission would have been better but that a select committee will suffice if that’s the only choice on the menu. “With the number of conspiracy theories being perpetuated by media outlets and spreading wildly online, we have to push back with the facts and ensure what happened on January 6th never happens again,” he said.

The question now is who ends up on the committee. Cheney and Kinzinger are both options for Pelosi, who has an 8-5 advantage in seats and is reportedly thinking of appointing a Republican. Democrats are nervous that McCarthy will stock the GOP’s seats with trolls or, worse, with members who are under suspicion for helping to organize or promote the rally on January 6 that preceded the insurrection. Pelosi seems prepared to head that off, though:

McCarthy may not appoint anyone, ostensibly as a way of protesting the committee but in reality to make the Democratic tilt more lopsided and facilitate the GOP’s “partisan witch hunt” talking point. I think he will nominate people, though. For one thing, if he refuses, Pelosi will just put Cheney and Kinzinger on the committee. That’ll make it “bipartisan” anyway. For another thing, boycotting a committee tasked with investigating an attack on the Capitol would be an exceptionally bad look for a caucus that’s already proved it’s not taking January 6 particularly seriously.

I’ll leave you with this Times video, assembled from footage shot that day which illuminates the riot in various ways. (There’s a written summary of the conclusions here if you’re not up for 40 minutes of footage.) There were some serious militia types in the mix, the NYT notes, but “most — even some at the forefront of the action — were ardent, but disorganized Trump supporters swept up in the moment and acting individually.”