Despite calling the Democrat-led select committee on the Jan. 6 Insurrection a partisan ploy, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has backed down from plans to boycott the panel and will nominate Republicans to serve.
The thinking behind McCarthy’s about-face seems to be, it’s better politically for Republicans to have representation on the panel to be able to push back on what the GOP claims will be a politically-targeted probe aimed at holding former President Trump — as well as some Republican lawmakers — responsible for the deadly attack.
Initially, there was an internal debate inside the House GOP about whether the California Republican should appoint members to the select committee or just skip it altogether as a way to paint the entire effort as partisan. But McCarthy indeed plans to place Republicans on the high-profile panel, CNN has learned, according to multiple GOP sources familiar with his intentions, and is in the process of making his selections. The thinking among Republicans is that the perch will enable them to shape a counternarrative to a probe that could ensnare not only Donald Trump, but also other members of their party. One major problem McCarthy has is who to nominate. Picking Trump sycophants like Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene seems obvious, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may veto such choices due to the fact they voted against certifying the 2020 election results. The smart political move, according to some observers, may be for McCarthy to pick at least one member of his party to be on the panel who actually voted to certify the election results, which could bolster the credibility of whatever arguments against the findings the GOP makes. Some names being floated as likely selections include outspoken Trump allies Jim Jordan, Jim Banks and Mike Johnson. The problem with that, is that many moderate Republicans want no part of the select committee because of the political peril it offers. The decision by Pelosi to name Liz Cheney to the committee also puts pressure on McCarthy to select a woman as one of the GOP choices. Elise Stefanik from New York, who replaced Cheney as the GOP Conference Chair, is a contender. Rep. Jackie Walorksi of Indiana, the ranking GOP member on the House Ethics Committee, is another strong possibility. No word yet on when McCarthy will make his choices, but it will likely happen quickly. The January 6 panel now has a quorum, so it can begin its work with or without McCarthy's picks.