Wow: Pelosi vetoes appointment of Jim Jordan and Jim Banks from January 6 committee

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

I’m shocked. Kevin McCarthy’s strategy in choosing Banks and Jordan for the committee was to balance those two hardcore MAGA appointees with three somewhat less MAGA ones, denying Pelosi a chance to say that McCarthy had made a mockery of the process by appointing only anti-anti-insurrectionists. I suspect he thought Pelosi would grudgingly agree to the two Jims plus Rodney Davis, Troy Nehls, and Kelly Armstrong as the best she could realistically hope for under the circumstances, knowing that McCarthy had to satisfy Trump fans in his base too. And I thought he was right.

We were both wrong.

Banks made no secret of how he intended to use his role as a committee member:

Once Pelosi told McCarthy that he and Jordan were nonstarters, the dominoes began to fall. Obviously McCarthy couldn’t comply with her request to replace them with other appointees; he would have looked weak to Trump, to MAGA, and to his caucus. And obviously Nehls, Davis, and Armstrong couldn’t participate in the committee once Pelosi had rejected Banks and Jordan. Then they’d be “Pelosi’s boys,” the compliant Republicans who wouldn’t make trouble for her on the committee. One way or another, the committee was going to end up with no Republicans — or rather, given Liz Cheney’s participation, no Republicans appointed by McCarthy.

And that’s what’s happened:

Everyone should be happy with this outcome, argues my pal Karl. The GOP didn’t want a bipartisan commission and they succeeded in tanking one in the Senate. They couldn’t stop Pelosi from creating a January 6 select committee in the House but they wanted to make that committee look as partisan as possible so that they can eventually dismiss its findings as a Democratic “witch hunt.” They got that too, as of today. McCarthy even managed to put the onus on Pelosi for it. He could have made the committee partisan by declining to appoint anyone, but then he’d be blamed for its lopsided Democratic lean. Instead he offered five names and Pelosi ended up nuking two of them, causing the GOP to pull out. Now it’s her fault that the committee is unrepresentative of the House.

But Pelosi wins too. Now she doesn’t have to worry about the committee making trouble for her or her party. She also gets to look tough to her own base by nuking Jordan and Banks and embarrassing McCarthy. And if the GOP pullout makes it easier for righties to cry about a partisan witch hunt, so what? They were going to do that regardless. Hell, Banks and Jordan would have been doing it as sitting members of the committee. If the goal is to brand Democrats the anti-insurrection party and Republicans the pro-Trump, pro-insurrection party for the midterms then today’s outcome serves their aims, notes Benjy Sarlin. Plus, Pelosi will remind people that she didn’t reject all of McCarthy’s picks, just the two. If the GOP cares about bipartisanship on the committee, why not let Nehls, Davis, and Armstrong serve?

Don’t they trust those three to do a diligent job or is it only the shrieking MAGA types who can be counted on to “fight” for Republican prerogatives? If the latter, why did McCarthy appoint those other three in the first place instead of Matt Gaetz or whoever?

Two questions now. One: Will Pelosi attempt to make the five picks allotted to McCarthy? There aren’t five Republicans in the caucus who would accept an appointment from her, but there may be one. That’s Adam Kinzinger, who’s gone the Cheney route in stridently criticizing Trump and the insurrection regardless of how it might play in his next primary. Joining the committee over McCarthy’s objection is a lot to ask, though, especially knowing how it would help Pelosi score a point on Kinzinger’s own colleagues. McCarthy might even strip his committee assignments over it. (Although he hasn’t stripped Cheney’s. Yet.) Is Kinzinger willing to make this committee a bit more bipartisan, complicating the GOP’s attempts to delegitimize it as a partisan hatchet job?

If not, another Twitter pal has a clever proposal: Pelosi could name five of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in February as her Republican picks to the committee. Even if all five decline (and they would), it’ll remind their constituents that they “betrayed” Trump and deepen suspicions that they’re Democrats in Republican clothing. Not a good look ahead of a primary.

Then again, why would Pelosi want five pro-impeachment Republicans replaced by five MAGA hardliners in the House?

Two: Will Liz Cheney defend Pelosi’s decision to block Banks and Jordan? I’ll remind you again of what she allegedly told Mark Milley about the scene on the House floor as the mob advanced on January 6:

“That f***ing guy Jim Jordan. That son of a b*tch… While these maniacs are going through the place, I’m standing in the aisle and he said, ‘We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you.’ I smacked his hand away and told him, ‘Get away from me. You f***ing did this.’”

If she believes Jordan and other MAGA cheerleaders bear moral responsibility for the riot then presumably she thinks Pelosi’s right to bar him from the panel. Is she willing to say so?

I’ll leave you with this. Not sure the GOP’s the big winner here.