Is Pelosi appointing more Republicans to the January 6 committee?

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

At least one is being looked at, and it’s the one everyone expects. But surprisingly, two other names are kicking around — one of them an ex-member of the House who was successfully primaried last year for not being populist enough.

There are a grand total of like six current or former House Republicans who are anti-Trump and by the time Pelosi’s done they’re all going to end up on this committee.

The obvious possibility is Adam Kinzinger, who’s made the same YOLO move Liz Cheney has this year by criticizing Trump and the GOP stridently over January 6 and the “stop the steal” campaign. Now that McCarthy’s yanked his five picks from the committee to protest Jim Banks and Jim Jordan being vetoed, Pelosi can make those appointments herself — if she can find any Republicans willing to accept them.

Would the other member of the YOLO caucus agree to join the panel?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering naming GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger to join the select committee investigating the deadly January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

During a news conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning, Pelosi said, “We’ll see,” when asked about the potential appointment.

“I mean, there are some members that would like to be on it,” Pelosi added. “But, we’ll see.”

Kinzinger wouldn’t comment today when asked about it. But a few weeks ago, when the prospect of him joining the committee was first raised, Kevin McCarthy said that anyone who accepted an appointment from Pelosi might lose their committee assignments. Kinzinger’s response: “Who gives a sh*t?” The other January 6 committee members seem enthusiastic about him:

Cheney does too:

Denver Riggleman is the former House Republican I mentioned up top. He lost a primary last year after he was criticized for having officiated at a gay wedding. Since leaving Congress, he’s become a critic of the conspiratorial culture in segments of the populist right. Looks like he’s interested in working on the committee:

Pelosi and Cheney have a common goal in all this, wanting to defang the attacks from the House GOP that the committee is a partisan smear machine. Pelosi wants to counter that for obvious partisan reasons but Cheney wants to counter it because her mission over the past several months has been to force the party to reckon with the gravity of the insurrection and the “rigged election” propaganda that preceded it. The more Republicans she can add to the committee, even if just as advisors, the harder it gets for her Republican colleagues to dismiss the committee’s work as pure Democratic agitprop.

Although they’re sure going to try:

”Is she a Republican?” freshman Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) quipped of Cheney. Nehls was one of five Republicans tapped by McCarthy to serve on the select panel…

“For her to stay on is not right. And she ought to have some consequences for that,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.). “She should probably just go and switch parties and be a Democrat. She’s gonna violate everything. She’s not in a leadership position so she has got some freedom, but this is so blatant.”

Norman predicted that GOP leadership would try to talk to Cheney about the matter and, if she refuses to meet with them, House Republicans should hold a vote on her future among them. “As far as any consequences for her, [it] ought to go to the conference — let us vote on it as a group,” Norman added.

It wasn’t long ago that Republicans were claiming their problem with Cheney attacking Trump was that she was doing so from a position of caucus leadership, a role in which she spoke to some degree on behalf of the entire caucus. Now she’s out of leadership, speaking only for herself, and they still have a problem with her. As if it wasn’t her leadership status but simply her criticism of Trump that they had a problem with all along.

The Club for Growth has even taken to running attack ads against her sneering that she’s a “Clinton Republican” because she “benefited from a famous political last name” and has now joined Pelosi’s attacks on Trump. Cheney’s voting record is as good as a fiscally conservative shop like the CFG could realistically hope for; certainly it’s more conservative than that of Elise Stefanik, who replaced her in leadership. The fact that the Club would come after her anyway is almost laboratory proof that the GOP is defined entirely by Trump and his political interests now, even by activist groups that purport to have an independent policy agenda they want to see enacted.

The third Republican prospect for the committee whose name popped up today is Peter Meijer, the most interesting freshman in the House:

Meijer voted to impeach Trump on just his 10th day in office, an incredibly bold move for a freshman given the electoral consequences. Now he won’t rule out joining Pelosi’s committee, which would compound his “betrayal” of the former president. If he accepts an appointment from the Speaker he’s basically joined the YOLO caucus too, which means he’s willing to accept the near-certainty of being defeated in a primary next year in exchange for doing some good with his remaining time in office. I’ll be surprised if he ends up on the panel but I was surprised by his impeachment vote, so who knows. He’s already YOLO to a huge extent.

As for Cheney and others potentially losing their committee assignments, I’m skeptical. Why kill what’s already dead?

McCarthy would face two lines of attack if he took action against Cheney. One: It would mean that, despite the various cranks in his caucus, the only member he felt moved to punish for anything was Liz Cheney for working to investigate January 6. That would speak volumes about what the party does and doesn’t deem to be inexcusable behavior and none of those volumes would be good. Two: If there’s an attempt to expel her from the caucus entirely, as Ralph Norman seemed to allude to in the excerpt above, it would signal that you can’t properly call yourself a Republican if you demand accountability from Trump and the party for “stop the steal” and the insurrection — certainly not if you’re willing to work with Democrats to try to get that accountability. That wouldn’t say anything good about the GOP either. McCarthy’s going to try to just ignore her, I think, and wait for the clock to run out on her career.