When the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was formed, Nancy Pelosi named eight members while giving Kevin McCarthy five. Then, for the first time in memory, the Speaker of the House vetoed the opposition party’s choices for committee seats, necessitating that Republicans pull all five. The patina of “bipartisanship” was provided by Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.
Pelosi cited the “integrity of the investigation” and “insistence on the truth” for rejecting Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, which is rich considering the members she did pick. One was Adam Schiff, who read the fabulist Steele dossier into the congressional record even after he knew it was a partisan oppo file. It was Schiff who had not only repeatedly insisted that the central assertion of that document was true – that the U.S. presidential election had been hijacked by a foreign entity – but also that he was in personal possession of a “smoking gun” to prove it. Schiff has never shared any corroboration for this allegation because none exists. Schiff should be under investigation by the House Intelligence Committee, not sitting on it.
Anyway, other Democrats on the committee, to various degrees, also denied the legitimacy of the 2016 election. But Chairman Bennie Thompson had also joined 31 Democrats in 2005 to object to Ohio’s slate of electoral votes over conspiracy theories regarding voting machines and “voter suppression.” This, we are told today, is the kind of unpatriotic election denialism that threatens our very democracy. Surely, there was a better person available?
The bigger problem was that a committee with a single political agenda ends up dismissing inconvenient evidence and fails to call competing witnesses and fails to meet the rudimentary expectations of due process. Whether this was a real criminal investigation or not — it was real enough to put reluctant witnesses into handcuffs — if Pelosi cared about “democracy” she would not have broken decades of legislative norms to get her way.
In any event, McCarthy has promised to return the favor. Pelosi, who stepped down from leadership today, escalated partisan warfare and Republicans have no reason to unilaterally disarm. Pick two House members and deny them a committee assignment, even if it’s symbolic.
A good place to start, as McCarthy has already promised, is denying the bigot Ilhan Omar, whose juvenile understanding of foreign policy (she believes the U.S. is a terror regime) makes her morally and philosophically unfit to serve on the Foreign Relations Committee. Eric Swalwell works, as well. Now, I’m not saying anyone who falls for a ChiCom honeypot is a pathetic mark unfit to serve in any office, I’m just saying that the last place this pathetic mark should serve is the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.