House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has rejected two of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's Republican picks to serve on the special committee to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol: Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, who was tapped to be the panel's ranking GOP member.
"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," Pelosi wrote in a statement released Wednesday. "The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision."
Reps. Banks and Jordan, both staunch supporters of former President Donald Trump, voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s win on Jan. 6, even after the riot by Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol in an attempt to subvert the Democratic process. Banks recently visited former President Donald Trump on trips to the U.S.-Mexico border and Trump’s New Jersey golf club. Jordan is a staunch defender of the president, specifically during his two impeachment trials, and compared the investigation to "impeachment three" last month.
Pelosi said in the statement that she informed McCarthy about her objections to Jordan and Banks, and "the impact their appointments may have on the integrity of the investigation."
She also informed McCarthy that she would accept the other three lawmakers he recommended – Reps. Rodney Davis, R-N.D., Kelly Armstrong, R-Ill., and Troy Nehls, R-Texas – and asked the minority leader to choose two more members to serve on the panel.
Nehls also voted to overturn Biden’s win on Jan. 6, while Davis and Armstrong were among the minority of Republicans who voted to certify Biden’s win. House Republicans have largely remained loyal to Trump despite the violent insurrection of his supporters that sent many of them running for their lives.
McCarthy said in a statement that the move by Pelosi "represents an egregious abuse of power and will irreparably damage this institution."
"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 this panel has lost all legitimacy and credibility and shows the Speaker is more interested in playing politics than seeking the truth," the California Republican added.
"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," McCarthy pledged.
"We said all along that this was a purely partisan exercise by the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi’s rejection of me and Jim Jordan shows once again she is the most partisan figure in America today," Banks said.
"The American people deserve the truth," Banks added. "Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi is afraid of the facts."
At a press conference later Wednesday, McCarthy said that "only way to reverse" his action "is seat these five," with his five GOP picks for the panel standing behind him.
McCarthy said that Pelosi created a "sham process" – per committee rules, Pelosi had the power to approve the names before they were final – and pledged that they wil run their own investigation.
However, it was noted by reporters at the press conference that Senate Republicans blocked the formation of an independent, bipartisan commission, by which McCarthy could have named whoever he wanted to the panel without oversight. Republicans would have had equal say on that panel.
McCarthy slammed Pelosi as a "lame duck Speaker," despite being more than a year away from the 2022 midterm elections, and accused Democrats of allowing her to "destroy this institution."
"I was certainly prepared to help this committee get to the truth," Rep. Nehls said at the press conference. "But, unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi has shown she’s more interested in playing politics."
The chairman of the panel, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, has said that the committee will have a quorum to conduct business regardless of whether or not GOP members are present.
In a statement issued Monday after the House GOP leader made his picks for the panel, Rep. Banks, McCarthy's intended ranking member, said he would take a politically combative approach to his leadership on the panel, sharply criticizing the Democrats who had set it up.
Pelosi named eight members of the committee earlier this month — seven Democrats and Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who has strongly criticized Trump and has been the most outspoken member of her caucus against the insurrection. Cheney, who was removed from her No. 3 position in House GOP leadership in May over her comments, was one of the two Republicans who voted in favor of forming the committee, along with Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger.
The panel will hold its first hearing next week, with at least four rank-and-file police officers who battled rioters that day testifying about their experiences. Dozens of police officers were injured as the crowd pushed past them and broke into the Capitol building.
Seven people died during and after the rioting, including a woman who was shot by police as she tried to break into the House chamber and three other Trump supporters who suffered medical emergencies. Two police officers died by suicide in the days that followed, and a third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, collapsed and later died after engaging with the protesters. A medical examiner determined he died of natural causes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.