Bluff called: Cheney accepts Pelosi's invite to serve on January 6 committee after McCarthy threatens to strip assignments

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

He’s so stupid. After everything that’s happened, did he really think threatening Cheney would cause her to refuse an appointment to the January 6 panel? If anything, strong-arm tactics like that may have encouraged her to accept it. She’s on a mission to hold the party accountable for the “stop the steal” fiasco and has risked her career to do it. She probably laughed when she heard that he warned a bunch of freshmen Republicans that they’d lose their other committee assignments if they joined the select committee.

Now he’s in a bad spot. If he doesn’t oust her from her committees after she defied him, he looks like a cuck. If he does, he looks like an A-hole for moving to punish her for an act of bipartisanship in investigating an attack on the Capitol when he’s refused to punish cranks like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, who may or may not be attending an upcoming fundraiser organized by white nationalists.

And needless to say, it looks terrible for the party that the minority leader feels moved to threaten such a draconian penalty for doing nothing worse than cooperating with Democrats to hold people accountable for the insurrection.

Well played, Kevin:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday issued a blanket threat during a meeting with freshmen members of his caucus that he would strip any Republican member of their committee assignments if they accept an offer from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on the select committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection, according to two GOP sources with knowledge of the matter…

After Wednesday’s vote, McCarthy refused to say if he will cooperate and offer up members to serve on the committee, telling CNN, “It seems pretty political to me.” He did not respond when CNN asked if that meant he would not appoint anyone.

His exact words, according to Forbes, were that any Republican who accepts an assignment to the select committee from Pelosi had better get all of their other assignments from her as well.

Cheney issued a statement within the last 30 minutes politely extending a middle finger:

“I’m honored to have been named to serve on the January 6th select committee. Congress is obligated to conduct a full investigation of the most serious attack on our Capitol since 1814. That day saw the most sacred space in our Republic overrun by an angry and violent mob attempting to stop the counting of electoral votes and threatening the peaceful transfer of power.

“What happened on January 6th can never happen again. Those who are responsible for the attack need to be held accountable and this select committee will fulfill that responsibility in a professional, expeditious, and non-partisan manner.

“Our oath to the Constitution, our commitment to the rule of law, and the preservation of the peaceful transfer of power must always be above partisan politics.”

Adam Kinzinger, the other Republican who voted in favor of forming the select committee and Pelosi’s probable back-up choice for the appointment, was less polite:

“Who gives a sh*t?” the Illinois Republican, one of his party’s best-known Donald Trump critics, told POLITICO of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s warning to GOP members not to accept an offer from Speaker Nancy Pelosi to sit on the Jan. 6 committee…

“I do think the threat of removing committees is ironic, because you won’t go after the space lasers and white supremacist people but those who tell the truth,” he said of McCarthy’s threat to strip committee assignments from any members picked by Pelosi to serve on the panel.

Pretty much. Everyone else in the world could see that counterpoint coming from a mile away. Not McCarthy, though — unless he’s planning to strip Gosar of his assignments in addition to Cheney, to provide some “balance” to punishing her.

I wonder what’s got him so anxious about Republicans serving on the select committee:

Here are all eight Pelosi appointees. Prepare to see Adam Schiff on TV again a lot over the next 18 months:

It’s still unclear whether McCarthy will nominate anyone to the committee. Pelosi is claiming the right to veto nominees who are unserious — or worse:

I don’t know what happens if McCarthy refuses to make any nominations. Does that mean the committee goes forward with eight members instead of 13? Or would Pelosi fill the other five slots herself? In that case, Kinzinger would be a no-brainer.

Exit question: When Cheney was kicked out of leadership in May, the rationale offered by House Republicans and their defenders was that she’s free to say whatever she wants about Trump and the election but it’s improper to do it from a position as caucus leader, a role where she’s representing the caucus. Her views didn’t align with theirs so she had to go. Now she’s a backbencher, representing no one but her own district. So why does McCarthy care whether she serves on the select committee? It’s … not because he expects their conclusions to be damning and is eager to be able to dismiss them as a partisan hatchet job, is it? That just got a lot harder with a Republican on the panel.