Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has rejected two loud proponents of former President Donald Trump’s election lies from joining the committee to investigate the January 6 attacks on the Capitol that those lies inspired.
Pelosi announced that Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Indiana Rep. Jim Banks would not be allowed on the committee, blocking their appointment after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy selected them on Tuesday.
“The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision,” Pelosi announced Wednesday afternoon, saying that she’d made the unusual decision because of “concern about statements made and actions taken by these members.”
Pelosi said she would allow three of McCarthy’s other picks to join the committee: Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong, and Texas Rep. Troy Nehls. Davis and Armstrong voted to certify Biden’s election victory. And while Nehls voted against certification, the former sheriff helped the Capitol Police convince rioters not to try to break onto the House floor and later called the riots a “disgrace.”
Jordan and Banks both voted against certifying Biden’s election victory in multiple states even after the riots, have remained steadfastly vocal in their defense of Trump, and have stuck by their evidence-free claims that a widespread voting fraud conspiracy may have tipped the election to President Biden.
Pelosi said Tuesday that the certification vote wasn’t the only metric she was considering in whether she’d accept GOP appointees, however. Nehls has been circumspect about his election comments since the vote, while Jordan and Banks had both been vocal defenders of Trump’s actions and continued to push his election lies. Banks has also faced criticism for leading a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border where a right-wing Capitol rioter was allowed to tag along.
A senior Democratic House leadership aide said that Banks’ Tuesday statement that Pelosi had created the committee “solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda” had infuriated members.
McCarthy responded by pulling all of his picks and promising to boycott the committee entirely.
“Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees, Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts,” he said in a statement.
McCarthy spoke to Trump during the riots. Jordan has suggested he may have as well and was also one of a handful of hard-line Republican lawmakers who met with Trump in late December to plan and coordinate their strategy for the January 6 electoral certification. That makes both men possible witnesses for the committee. Both have repeatedly talked with Trump in the wake of the election as well, keeping close relationships with the former president.
The select committee was approved by House Democrats after Republicans walked away from a bipartisan compromise to create an evenly balanced blue-ribbon commission to get to the bottom of what really happened on and before January 6.
More than half of House Republicans voted against certifying Biden’s election victory in multiple states. Republicans have claimed that they were well within their rights, and correctly point out that House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, who has been named to chair the committee, is one of many Democrats who voted against certifying some states for George W. Bush in 2004.
Jordan has leaned especially hard into that point. But in 2004, Democratic nominee John Kerry conceded long before Congress certified Bush’s win—and he didn’t cajole his supporters into assaulting the U.S. Capitol.
But the committee will have at least one Republican on it: Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who was the third-ranking House Republican until her steadfast criticism of Trump led McCarthy, Jordan, Banks, and others to turn on her and push her out of leadership.
Cheney, for one, might not be heartbroken not to have Jordan on the committee with her.
During the Capitol riots, she rejected Jordan’s offer of help, blaming him for helping to incite the mob by pushing Trump’s baseless claims about election fraud.
“Get away from me. You fucking did this,” she said.