Collins: Let's face it, Pelosi's 1/6 commission is a disappointment

Susan Collins gets this exactly correct, although the senator from Maine says plenty here to annoy partisans on both sides. On CNN’s State of the Union, Jake Tapper asks Collins to comment on the “indifference” demonstrated by Republicans to the testimony of Capitol Police officers at the start of the January 6 commission in the House. Collins criticizes the indifference, but then blasts Nancy Pelosi for setting up a “partisan committee,” and predicts that it will have zero credibility.

Tapper tries defending Pelosi on the choice of committee members, but makes an important error:

COLLINS: … I fought very hard to have an independent, bipartisan, nonpartisan, outside commission to look at all of the events of that day. And I’m very disappointed that it was not approved. I think it would have had far more credibility than Speaker Pelosi’s partisan committee that she has set up. But we should have had a 9/11-style convention to fully look at what happened.

TAPPER: Yes, I mean, Mitch McConnell opposed it, and that’s why it didn’t happen. I should — you called it a partisan committee. I should note that there are two Republicans on the committee, Cheney and Kinzinger. Do you have faith in them?

S. COLLINS: I respect both of them, but I do not think it was right for the speaker to decide which Republicans should be on the committee. Normally, if you have a select committee, the minority leader and the speaker get to pick the members.

TAPPER: Yes, I mean, just a — the reason she did that is because at least two of the members McCarthy picked to be on the committee are election liars, one of whom, Jim Jordan, is possibly even a material witness. He spoke with Trump that day.

Point of order: Everyone on the committee at the moment is a “material witness.” That’s the problem. The rioters breached the capitol building while most if not all of the committee members were either in the building itself or in an annex building connected to it. After all, every member should have been on hand for the ceremonial acceptance of the Electoral College results.

If they were in the building during the riot, they’re material witnesses. If the riot prevented them from attending the session, they’re material witnesses. Every single person conducting this investigation has a conflict of interest, and every one of them has an axe to grind because of it. That’s hardly limited to Jordan and Jim Banks.

For this reason, any commission created to investigate the events of January 6th should not have included anyone in Congress or in the Capitol that day. Collins’ call for an “outside commission” is exactly what was needed. The 9/11 Commission did not include a single member holding office at the time of the attacks, and it was a numerically balanced panel between Republicans and Democrats that forced the members to collaborate.

The structure of the 9/11 Commission did not allow for a partisan narrative. Pelosi’s refusal to use a similar structure, and her insistence on imposing a veto on House Republican appointments, makes it look very much like Pelosi wants nothing else but a partisan narrative — and that doesn’t pass the smell test, not even for a sympathetic Susan Collins. It shouldn’t for anyone else either.