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McCarthy Chooses Trump Loyalists for Jan. 6 Inquiry

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Trump loyalists top McCarthy’s list of picks for the Jan. 6 inquiry, signaling a partisan brawl.

Representative Jim Banks departing the Capitol on Monday. He is among the loyalists that the minority leader Representative Kevin McCarthy has chosen to sit on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

July 20, 2021, 12:27 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, has chosen a pair of former President Donald J. Trump’s staunchest and most combative allies to be among his five picks to sit on the special House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, signaling he is approaching the inquiry as a partisan battle.

Mr. McCarthy and Republicans had opposed the creation of the select committee, which is to scrutinize the mob violence that delayed Congress’s formal adoption of President Biden’s victory. The 13-member panel, created on a party-line vote, will have seven Democrats and six Republicans, after Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and a harsh critic of Mr. Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, as one of her eight members.

The committee, which is led by Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, is scheduled to have its first meeting July 27 to hear from members of the Capitol Police and District of Columbia police force who fought off the mob. Among them are Harry Dunn, Aquilino Gonell, a sergeant, Michael Fanone, who has lobbied Republicans to support an investigation, and Daniel Hodges, who was crushed in a door during the rampage.

Some of them have been outspoken about the trauma they experienced that day, but Officer Hodges has called it an honor.

“If it wasn’t my job, I would have done that for free,” he told NBC News shortly after the assault. “It was absolutely my pleasure to crush a white nationalist insurrection.”

Ms. Pelosi still must agree to the five Republicans Mr. McCarthy has selected. If he gets his way, they will be:

Representative Jim Banks of Indiana

Mr. Banks, the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, will be the ranking member of the panel. He recently led several House Republicans on a trip to join Mr. Trump at an event at the southwestern border.

He voted against certifying electoral votes for Mr. Biden on Jan. 6 and against creating an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the attack.

In a statement on Tuesday, he said Ms. Pelosi had created the panel “solely to malign conservatives and to justify the left’s authoritarian agenda.”

“I will not allow this committee to be turned into a forum for condemning millions of Americans because of their political beliefs,” he added.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio

A founding member of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, Mr. Jordan led the effort to discredit the Russia investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and was one of the former president’s most strident defenders during his first impeachment. Just before leaving office, Mr. Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Mr. Jordan also voted against certifying electoral votes for Mr. Biden on Jan. 6 and against creating an independent bipartisan commission.

On Tuesday, he branded the select committee “impeachment Round 3,” telling Newsmax, “This is to go after President Trump.”

Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois

Mr. Davis is the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, where he has studied Capitol security failures, and he is known as a pragmatist.

He did not join his party’s effort to invalidate electoral votes for Mr. Biden on Jan. 6, and he was one of only 35 Republicans who voted to create an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the attack.

Understand the Removal of Liz Cheney

House Republicans voted on May 12 to oust Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from their leadership ranks for her refusal to stay quiet about President Donald J. Trump’s election lies.

Backlash to Impeachment Vote: In January, Ms. Cheney issued a stinging statement announcing that she would vote to impeach Mr. Trump. In the statement, which drove a fissure through her party, she said that there had “never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States” than Mr. Trump’s incitement of a mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. She was among 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him. A group of Mr. Trump’s most strident allies in the House called on her to resign from her leadership post.Leadership Challenge: In February, Ms. Cheney fended off a challenge to strip her of her leadership position in a secret ballot vote. Even as a majority of House Republicans opposed impeaching Mr. Trump, most were not prepared to punish one of their top leaders for doing so — at least not under a blanket of anonymity.Censure: Ms. Cheney also faced opposition from the Wyoming Republican Party, which censured her and demanded she resign. Ms. Cheney rejected those calls and urged Republicans to be “the party of truth.”New Challenge: Ms. Cheney continued her blunt condemnation of Mr. Trump and her party’s role in spreading the false election claims that inspired the Jan. 6 attack, prompting a new push to oust her from her leadership role. This time, the effort was backed by Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader.Removal: Ms. Cheney framed her expulsion as a turning point for her party and declared in an extraordinary speech that she would not sit by quietly as Republicans abandoned the rule of law. She embraced her downfall and offered herself as a cautionary tale in what she is portraying as a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. The removal came by voice vote during a brief but raucous closed-door meeting in an auditorium on Capitol Hill.Impact and Analysis: What began as a battle over the party’s future after the violent end to the Trump presidency has collapsed into a one-sided pile-on by Team Trump against critics like Ms. Cheney, a scion of a storied Republican family. The episode, a remarkable takedown that reflected the party’s intolerance for dissent and unswerving fealty to the former president, has called attention to internal party divisions between more mainstream and conservative factions about how to win back the House in 2022.Successor: On May 14, House Republicans elected Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, a vocal defender of Mr. Trump, as their No. 3 leader. Ms. Stefanik pledged to maintain a focus “on unity” as conference chair, but she has also drawn criticism from some hard-right Republicans who have questioned her conservative bona fides.

He told the Illinois newspaper Herald & Review in January that the Capitol breach was the “second-most terrifying moment” he had experienced as a member of Congress after a shooting on a baseball field in 2017.

“It’s tragic we’ve gotten to this point in the country that people feel they can commit acts of violence because they’re inspired by politics,” he said.

Representative Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota

Mr. Armstrong is a former criminal defense lawyer who earned praise from Mr. Trump for his defense during the former president’s first impeachment trial.

He did not object to electoral votes for Mr. Biden on Jan. 6, but he voted against the creation of an independent bipartisan inquiry.

Mr. Armstrong, who was in the House balcony during the attack, has condemned conspiracy theories about the riot and praised the Capitol Police for their response.

Representative Troy Nehls of Texas

A former sheriff, Mr. Nehls was among the lawmakers who assisted the Capitol Police in barricading the door to the House floor during the Jan. 6 attack. Hours later, he joined most Republicans in voting against counting electoral votes for Mr. Biden. He also opposed forming an independent bipartisan commission.

“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,” Mr. Nehls wrote on Twitter on Jan. 6. “What I’m witnessing is a disgrace. We’re better than this. Violence is NEVER the answer. Law and order!”

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