Pelosi Rejects Jordan and Banks From Jan. 6 Inquiry Panel

Ms. Pelosi, who had never before rejected a Republican nominee to a committee, called her rejection of Representatives Jim Banks and Jim Jordan “unprecedented” but necessary.


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Pelosi bars two Trump allies from the committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.

“The unprecedented nature of Jan. 6 demands this unprecedented decision,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

July 21, 2021, 1:31 p.m. ET

Representative Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday pulled five Republicans from a select committee investigating the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol after Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the unusual step of barring two of former President Donald J. Trump’s closest allies in Congress from the panel, citing concerns that they would disrupt its work.

A visibly agitated Mr. McCarthy called a rushed news conference to condemn Ms. Pelosi’s decision and accused her of excessive partisanship. He pledged to carry out a Republican-only investigation into the events of Jan. 6 — and focus on whether Ms. Pelosi could have done more to protect the Capitol from violent supporters of Mr. Trump.

“Why are you allowing a lame-duck speaker to destroy this institution?” he asked.

Ms. Pelosi had said earlier on Wednesday that she was rejecting the appointments of Representatives Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio based on their ties to Mr. Trump and comments they had made disparaging the inquiry.

She acknowledged that her move was “unprecedented” but called it necessary given the men’s actions related to the deadly events of Jan. 6, when supporters of Mr. Trump stormed the Capitol based on his lies about a stolen election, injuring dozens of police officers and delaying Congress’s official count of electoral votes to formalize President Biden’s victory.

“With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the select committee,” Ms. Pelosi said. “The unprecedented nature of Jan. 6 demands this unprecedented decision.”

Mr. McCarthy had included the pair — two of Mr. Trump’s staunchest and most combative allies on Capitol Hill — among his five picks to sit on the committee, signaling that he was approaching the inquiry as a partisan battle. Both voted against counting electoral votes for Mr. Biden just hours after rioters ransacked the Capitol.

Ms. Pelosi said she had based her decision not on those votes but on concerns raised by Democrats, including members of the select committee who had discussed the possibility that obstruction from Mr. Banks and Mr. Jordan could derail their work.

Many Democrats hailed the move.

“There is no place on this committee for unserious members,” said Representative Mike Quigley of Illinois. “Speaker Pelosi absolutely made the right decision by rejecting G.O.P. members who have made it clear they would use this platform to grandstand and spew misinformation. In fact, Congressman Banks has already broadcasted his intention to sabotage the proceedings.”

Representative Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, the chairman of the select committee, said he would “not be distracted by sideshows” and pledged to move forward with the committee’s work, including its first public hearing next week.

Ms. Pelosi had quietly debated her options with Democratic members of the panel, who expressed reservations about letting firebrands closely associated with Mr. Trump’s efforts to undermine the election serve alongside them.

“There are people who want to derail and thwart an investigation, and there are people who want to conduct an investigation,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the panel. “That’s the fault line here.”

Democrats got high-profile backup from Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Mr. McCarthy’s former No. 3, whom Ms. Pelosi appointed to the committee after Ms. Cheney was ousted from her leadership position this spring for criticizing Mr. Trump.

“The rhetoric that we have heard from the minority leader is disingenuous,” Ms. Cheney told reporters on the steps of the Capitol. “At every opportunity, the minority leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened, to block this investigation.”

She said Ms. Pelosi had been right to reject Mr. Jordan and Mr. Banks. She called Mr. Jordan a potential “material witness” to the attempted insurrection and said Mr. Banks had “disqualified himself” with recent comments disparaging the committee.

Mr. Banks arranged for House Republicans to join Mr. Trump at a recent event at the southern border in which a participant in the Capitol riot at times served as a translator. Mr. Banks also released a combative statement Monday night in which he blamed the Biden administration for the response to the riot — which occurred under the Trump administration — and called the committee a creation of Ms. Pelosi’s to “malign conservatives and to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda.”

At a news conference with Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Banks suggested Ms. Pelosi had failed to secure the Capitol.

“She knows we were prepared to fight to get to the truth,” he said. “She doesn’t want to go down that path.”

Capitol security is overseen by the Capitol Police Board, which has three voting members: the sergeants-at-arms of the House and Senate and the Architect of the Capitol. Paul D. Irving, the House sergeant-at-arms at the time of the attack, was hired in 2012 under Speaker John Boehner, a Republican. The Senate sergeant-at-arms at the time, Michael C. Stenger, was hired in 2018 when Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, led the chamber.

Mr. Jordan, who has called the committee a “political” attack on Mr. Trump, was among a group of House Republicans who met with the former president in December to help plan the effort to challenge Mr. Biden’s victory, and Democratic members of the select committee were considering calling him as a potential witness in their investigation. Ms. Cheney clashed with Mr. Jordan on the House floor on Jan. 6, blaming him for the riot, according to a new book by two Washington Post reporters.

“Speaker Pelosi just admitted the obvious, that the Jan. 6 select committee is nothing more than a partisan political charade,” Mr. Jordan said in a statement.

Ms. Pelosi said she would accept Mr. McCarthy’s three other nominees — Representatives Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Troy Nehls of Texas — and encouraged him to offer new picks for the remaining spots. But those three said they would not participate given the rejection of Mr. Banks and Mr. Jordan.

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