WASHINGTON – House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has picked five Republicans to sit on the new select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, signaling that Republicans will participate in the investigation that they have staunchly opposed.
McCarthy said Monday that he has selected Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, who recently visited former President Donald Trump on trips to the U.S.-Mexico border and Trump's New Jersey golf club, to be the top Republican on the panel. The Republican leader also tapped Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong and Texas Rep. Troy Nehls to serve on the committee.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must approve the names before they are final, per committee rules. An aide to Pelosi said she has received notification from McCarthy, but it is unclear when or if she will approve the GOP members. The aide was granted anonymity to discuss the Republican picks ahead of an official announcement.
The five Republican men selected by McCarthy have all backed Trump, whose supporters laid siege to the Capitol building on Jan. 6 and interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden's victory. Banks, Jordan and Nehls all voted to overturn Biden's win that day, even after the rioting. Davis and Armstrong were among the minority of Republicans who voted to certify Biden's win.
McCarthy's picks come after all but two Republicans opposed the creation of the 13-person select committee in a House vote last month, with most in the GOP arguing that the majority-Democratic panel would conduct a partisan probe. House Democrats originally attempted to create an evenly split, independent commission to investigate the insurrection, but that effort fell short when it was blocked by Senate Republicans.
House Republicans have largely remained loyal to Trump despite the violent insurrection of his supporters that sent many of them running for their lives. Banks made clear in a statement Monday evening that he would take a politically combative approach to his leadership on the panel, sharply criticizing the Democrats who had set it up.
“Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda," Banks said.
Jordan, one of Trump's staunchest defenders through his two impeachments and the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said after the House vote to form the panel that he believed the investigation is “impeachment three” against the former president. Trump was impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate both times.
The members selected by McCarthy had mixed reactions to the insurrection as it happened on Jan. 6. While Jordan led the effort to overturn election results, others tweeted to the rioters to end the violence or condemned it.
“Thank you to the Capitol police and all law enforcement,” Armstrong tweeted shortly after the House was evacuated that afternoon. “Rioting is not protesting. This needs to stop. Now.”
Around the same time, Davis tweeted: “This is a sad day for our country. The lawlessness has got to stop. Protestors must leave the Capitol so Congress can resume the process of confirming the Electoral College vote.”
Nehls, a former sheriff, was one of several members who helped barricade the House doors as rioters tried to beat them down. He tweeted an Associated Press photo of himself holding the door alongside Capitol Police — face to face with rioters who had broken the glass in the entryway.
“I was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Capitol police barricading entrance to our sacred House chamber, while trying to calm the situation talking to protestors,” Nehls tweeted. “What I’m witnessing is a disgrace. We’re better than this. Violence is NEVER the answer. Law and order!"
A week later, all five members voted against the impeachment of Trump, who had told his supporters gathered in Washington on Jan. 6 to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat.
The Democratic chair of the select committee, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, said Monday evening that he hadn't seen the GOP names but referred the matter to Pelosi. “It's up to her,” he said.
Pelosi named eight members of the committee earlier this month — seven Democrats and Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who has strongly criticized Trump and has been the most outspoken member of her caucus against the insurrection. Cheney, who was demoted from GOP leadership in May over her comments, was one of the two Republicans who voted in favor of forming the committee, along with Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger.
As McCarthy stayed quiet for weeks on Republican participation on the panel, Thompson has said that the committee will have a quorum to conduct business whether GOP members are present or not.
The new members will be put to the test at the panel's first hearing next week, with at least four rank-and-file police officers who battled rioters that day testifying about their experiences. Dozens of police officers were injured as the crowd pushed past them and broke into the Capitol building.
Seven people died during and after the rioting, including a woman who was shot by police as she tried to break into the House chamber and three other Trump supporters who suffered medical emergencies. Two police officers died by suicide in the days that followed, and a third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, collapsed and later died after engaging with the protesters. A medical examiner determined he died of natural causes.
Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.