Republicans Attempt to Undercut Jan. 6 Committee With Inaccurate Claims
Hours before the House committee investigating the Capitol riot opens its public hearings, Republican lawmakers sought to portray the panel as illegitimate. In a news conference, they denounced the committee’s formation, its work and Speaker Nancy Pelosi with inaccurate claims. Here’s a fact check.
What Was Said
“It has been caught altering evidence, including the text messages of our ranking member Jim Jordan.” — Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, in a news conference on Thursday
This is exaggerated. This was a reference to a text message presented at a meeting of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot. The text was not presented in full, but no words were altered.
The committee met in December to recommend a criminal contempt charge for Mark Meadows, the last White House chief of staff to President Donald J. Trump, for defying its subpoena.
During the meeting, Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, read and presented a text that an unnamed lawmaker had sent to Mr. Meadows: “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.”
Mr. Schiff then argued that the text message illustrated why it was “so critical” to continue to question Mr. Meadows.
A few days later, the conservative publication The Federalist reported that the text had come from Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, who had forwarded it to Mr. Meadows; the message originally came from a lawyer contending that the vice president had the legal authority to decertify votes.
The full text read: “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all — in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence. ‘No legislative act,’ wrote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 78, ‘contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.’ The court in Hubbard v. Lowe reinforced this truth: ‘That an unconstitutional statute is not a law at all is a proposition no longer open to discussion.’ 226 F. 135, 137 (SDNY 1915), appeal dismissed, 242 U.S. 654 (1916). Following this rationale, an unconstitutionally appointed elector, like an unconstitutionally enacted statute, is no elector at all.”
A spokesman for the committee acknowledged truncating the text and apologized for doing so.
What Was Said
“She rejected the minority picks to be on the committee. That’s going against 232 years of a tradition in this House. You reject the minority to have a say in the committee.” — Mr. McCarthy
False. Seven Democrats and two Republicans sit on the select committee, contrary to Mr. McCarthy’s claim that it is entirely partisan. Moreover, Mr. McCarthy is omitting the fact that he is partly responsible for the small number of Republicans participating. His evocation of a two-century tradition of minority input is also wrong.
The House passed a resolution creating the select committee in June 2021, giving Ms. Pelosi the power to appoint eight members and Mr. McCarthy five. A few weeks later, Mr. McCarthy appointed Representative Jim Banks of Indiana as the ranking member, as well as Mr. Jordan, and Representatives Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Troy Nehls of Texas.
Ms. Pelosi rejected Mr. Banks and Mr. Jordan, arguing that the two vociferous supporters of Mr. Trump might affect “the integrity of the investigation” but agreed to the other three Republicans’ participation. In response, Mr. McCarthy said Republicans would not take part at all unless Mr. Jordan and Mr. Banks were allowed to join the committee.
Ms. Pelosi later appointed two Republicans critical of Mr. Trump, Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
Moreover, Mr. McCarthy was wrong to say that Ms. Pelosi broke with a two-century tradition by rejecting two of his picks. In fact, the speaker appointed members and committee leaders until 1911, and the speaker has “retained the authority” to appoint members to select committees, according to a guide by House parliamentarians.
In other words, the minority party had no role in the appointment process for most of American history, said Joshua C. Huder, a senior fellow and expert in congressional procedures and history at Georgetown University. After 1911, it has been uncommon for the majority party to deny the minority party’s picks, but Mr. Huder said, “I know for a fact that they have used informal political weight to limit who the minority selects.”
What Was Said
“Was Speaker Pelosi involved in the decision to delay National Guard assistance on Jan. 6? Those are serious and real questions that this committee refuses to even ask. Speaker Pelosi doesn’t want to answer those questions because she knows that the answers to those questions leave a trail of bread crumbs right back to her office, underscoring her negligence, her lack of leadership as the speaker of the House.” — Mr. Banks, at the same news conference
This is misleading. For over a year, Republican and conservative commentators have repeatedly and misleadingly blamed Ms. Pelosi for the delay in deploying the National Guard to the Capitol on Jan. 6.
There is no evidence that Ms. Pelosi’s office rejected a request to deploy the National Guard, or even played a role in any delays over approval. The decision lies with the Capitol Police Board, which includes the House and Senate sergeant-at-arms and the Architect of the Capitol.
A report by two bipartisan Senate committees investigating the Jan. 6 attack attributed delays in requesting the National Guard to “opaque processes.” It noted that the members of the Capitol Police Board were not familiar with the approval process, and gave conflicting accounts of when assistance was first requested.