Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday said she would bar the two top Republican lawmakers chosen by their party leader to sit on the special committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, taking an unusual step to blacklist two of former President Donald J. Trump’s closest allies in Congress.
In a statement, Ms. Pelosi said she was rejecting the appointments of Representatives Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio to the panel, based on their ties to the former president and comments they had made disparaging the inquiry.
She called her move “unprecedented” but necessary given their actions related to the deadly events of Jan. 6, when supporters of Mr. Trump stormed the Capitol based on his lies about a stolen election, injuring dozens of police officers and delaying Congress’s official count of electoral votes to formalize President Biden’s victory.
“With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee,” Ms. Pelosi said. “The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision.”
Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the top House Republican, had included the pair — two of Mr. Trump’s staunchest and most combative allies on Capitol Hill — among his five picks to sit on the committee, signaling he was approaching the inquiry as a partisan battle. Both voted against counting electoral votes for Mr. Biden, just hours after rioters ransacked the Capitol.
Ms. Pelosi said she did not base her decision on those votes, but on concerns raised by Democrats, including members of the select committee who discussed the possibility that Mr. Banks and Mr. Jordan could derail their work.
Mr. McCarthy called Ms. Pelosi’s decision an “egregious abuse of power” that he said would “irreparably damage this institution.” He threatened to pull all Republicans from the committee unless she reversed her decision.
“Denying the voices of members who have served in the military and law enforcement, as well as leaders of standing committees, has made it undeniable that this panel has lost all legitimacy and credibility and shows the speaker is more interested in playing politics than seeking the truth,” he said.
Mr. Jordan, who has called the committee a “political” attack on Mr. Trump, was among a group of House Republicans who met with the former president in December to help plan the effort to challenge Mr. Biden’s victory, and Democratic members of the select committee were considering calling him as a potential witness in their investigation. Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and a member of the committee, reportedly clashed with Mr. Jordan on the House floor on Jan. 6, blaming him for the riot, according to a new book by two Washington Post reporters.
“Speaker Pelosi just admitted the obvious, that the January 6th Select Committee is nothing more than a partisan political charade,” Mr. Jordan said in a statement responding to her decision.
Mr. Banks has come under criticism for arranging a trip for House Republicans to join Mr. Trump at a recent event at the southwestern border in which a participant in the Capitol riot at times served as a translator. Mr. Banks also released a combative statement Monday night in which he blamed the Biden administration for its response to the riot — which occurred during the final days of the Trump administration — and called the committee a creation of Ms. Pelosi’s to “malign conservatives and to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda.”
Ms. Pelosi said she would accept Mr. McCarthy’s three other nominees to the panel — Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois, Representative Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Representative Troy Nehls of Texas — and said she encouraged the Republican leader to offer two new picks to replace Mr. Jordan and Mr. Banks.
Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.
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