Privately, lawmakers predict that McCarthy — if he opts to appoint members — will gravitate towards controllable Trump acolytes who can work to snarl the select committee’s progress. Already some of the GOP’s biggest firebrands are asking McCarthy to join the panel, with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia publicly pushing to be seated on the panel. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida is also openly expressing his interest. And Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado is also seeking to land a spot, according to GOP conference sources.
On the other end of the House Republican spectrum, two members who voted to certify Trump’s loss said on condition of anonymity that they want nothing to do with the select committee out of fear that its work would capture Trump’s notice.
“I worry that a more partisan committee will make it harder for the findings of the investigation to be viewed as credible by the broad swaths of the electorate, and that’s my main concern,” said Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), who voted to impeach Trump in February.
Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), another pro-impeachment voter who opposes the select committee, told POLITICO: “It’s exactly what I was hoping we wouldn’t have, because it’s going to be politicized.” Katko worked with Democrats to negotiate a 9/11-style commission to examine the insurrection, but GOP leadership ultimately torpedoed his efforts.
Yet two of Trump’s most active critics in the party, Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), have declined to pull their names from consideration as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential GOP appointee to the committee.
The vast majority of House Republicans who are wary of the select committee have their reasons: They claim it will be a partisan effort to attack Trump and warn that McCarthy could be called as a witness as Democrats seek further details from a profanity-laced phone call he had with the former president during the attack. McCarthy has said he’s willing to testify and repeated that sentiment Friday, responding that “I have no problem talking about Trump.”
Democrats are eager to use the moment to make McCarthy’s conversation an uncomfortable one. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead impeachment manager during Trump’s Senate trial in February, said most Republicans have moved on from the attack in record time.
“There were people who went from being brave defenders of the House door to revisionists, asserting that the whole thing was a ‘tourist group.’ And that did happen in record time,” Raskin said in an interview, adding that “we are all partisan to different degrees, but there’s certain things where we shouldn’t be partisan.”
Raskin’s party isn’t alone in looking for McCarthy to take a stronger stand against Republicans who have downplayed the pro-Trump riot. D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone, who was injured during the response on Jan. 6, pressed McCarthy during a meeting Friday afternoon to chastise those GOP lawmakers. According to Fanone, McCarthy said he would handle it on a “personal level,” a response that disappointed the officer.
But House Republicans have their own scores to settle over the insurrection.
Chief among them is the allegation by Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) that some GOP members participated in reconnaissance of the Capitol ahead of the Jan. 6 attack — a claim she has yet to substantiate. Sherrill, a former Navy pilot who also previously worked in the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey, said she has turned over information about what she saw on the eve of the riot to federal investigators, noting that any action on such material tends to take time.
“We’re seeing information come out about the planning that went into that,” Sherrill said. “I don’t really want to comment on what I’ve seen. Some of it is still under investigation, so it hasn’t been publicly released right now.”