In what could be a preview of what is to come, House Republicans have planned a number of events on Tuesday designed to distract and undermine the first hearing of the January 6 select committee.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has made clear that he will not cooperate with the committee’s work, is now showing that he plans to take his obstruction a step further, planning a news conference with his top lieutenants before the hearing in attempt to paint their work – as he calls it – a “partisan sham.”
Rep. Troy Nehls, a Republican from Texas told CNN that he and McCarthy’s other original picks for the select committee huddled Monday to strategize ahead of their press conference with GOP leaders. Republicans involved with the planning say they want to be especially careful to not be seen as undermining the testimony of the law enforcement officers who risked their lives to defend the Capitol that day. Instead, they are likely to frame their messaging around what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did — or didn’t do — to protect the police officers and others in the Capitol. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise signaled that they’re likely to focus their press conference on security failures the day of the insurrection.
“All of our members on the January 6 select panel had some serious questions they were going to be raising, specifically tied around why Pelosi didn’t have the Capitol better prepared and why the Capitol Police didn’t have all the tools they needed,” the Louisiana Republican told CNN.
In the future, the group may attempt hold hearings of their own and call witnesses designed to highlight issues they believe the Select Committee may ignore. Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, who was initially tapped as McCarthy’s choice as the ranking Republican member of the committee, before Pelosi vetoed his selection, previously said he wanted to hear testimony from the head of the Capitol Police union, who has been critical of the security failures on January 6.
Republicans have repeatedly tried to tie the lack of proper security preparation back to decisions made by Pelosi in the run up to January 6.
Pelosi argued the select committee she created, with two GOP members on board, will be the group most Americans will trust.
“We have beautiful committee, a select committee that is bipartisan patriotic solemn and serious,” Pelosi said. “And I hope that will save the day for our country. It was an assault on our American Capitol, our democracy, our Constitution. It requires us to act in a way that is so responsible so that the American people will have clarity.”
And McCarthy’s attempt at coordinating a message, specifically aimed at laying the blame on Pelosi, could be easily undermined by the far right members in their conference, who have attempted to whitewash or downplay January 6, suggested the attack was an inside job by the FBI and defended the rioter who was shot and killed after storming the building.
A collection of those members, led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, plan to stage a news conference outside of the Department of Justice designed to draw attention to those arrested and charged with crimes stemming from the Capitol Insurrection. Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona will be at that news conference as well. He has defended the rioters and has specifically taken up the cause of Ashli Babbit who was killed as she tried to storm the House Chamber. Gosar has described her death as an “execution,” and demanded the officer who shot her be investigated and charged with her murder.
Greene will also hold a separate news conference, scheduled to take place during the hearing, with Republican Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Ralph Norman of South Carolina to make what she is calling a “major announcement.”
McCarthy and his colleagues will hold a conference meeting Tuesday morning – while the hearing is happening – where among the topics expected to be discussed is an effort to punish Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, the two GOP members who accepted Pelosi’s appointment to the committee.
The conversation happening at a time when Cheney and Kinzinger will not be able to be in attendance to defend themselves.
Democrats have made it clear they will make sure to tie the two groups together every chance they get.
“It’s sad – but not surprising – that McCarthy has harsher words for patriotic members of his own conference than he does for the insurrectionists who viciously attacked Capitol law enforcement and the House Republicans holding a jailhouse presser on the insurrectionists behalf,” said Robyn Patterson, a spokesperson for Pelosi.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi and the chairman of the Select Committee said McCarthy has no one but himself to blame for the hyper partisanship surrounding the effort to get answers to what happened on January 6.
“If Leader McCarthy becomes more engaged in meaningful dialogue, I think the speaker would more than readily accommodate him,” Thompson said. “But you can’t throw these temper tantrums and expect people to work with you.”
CNN’s Annie Grayer contributed to this report.