Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote a piece with this headline: “Nancy Pelosi just doomed the already tiny chances of the 1/6 committee actually mattering.”
At the time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had rejected two of the five Republicans – Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio – who House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had nominated to serve on the select committee investigating January 6, 2021.
My central argument went like this:
“No matter Pelosi’s reasoning, her decision to reject Jordan and Banks, the two most high-profile Republicans put forward by McCarthy, dooms even the possibility of the committee being perceived as bipartisan or its eventual findings being seen as independent.”
I don’t think I was totally wrong in my broad point. I am still not at all sure that the committee’s findings – as shown in the seven public hearings to date and the eventual report it will produce – will change all that many minds.
But I was definitely wrong in one of the central assertions that undergirded the piece: That the partisan makeup of the committee would keep it from being able to get key insiders in the Trump White House to testify.
The committee has not only been able to interview many of the major players in Trump world regarding January 6, but has used their testimony to build a compelling case against the former President.
I was struck by that fact Tuesday as the committee played interview after interview with high-ranking members of the Trump team – such as Attorney General William Barr, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, White House senior adviser Eric Herschmann – insisting that they did not believe the election conspiracy theories Trump was pushing, and had told him as much.
At times the committee spliced a series of these interviews together – top Trump aide after top Trump aide making the case that there was no evidence of election fraud, that Trump had repeatedly been told that fact, and that he had chosen to ignore it.
It’s a stunning achievement – whether or not the committee and its findings actually change minds.
I was not the only person to make the mistake of assuming the committee would never get the sort of access and candor that it has, in fact, gotten.
McCarthy, in the face of Pelosi nixing two of his nominees for the committee, pulled all five.
“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,” he said at the time.
The problem McCarthy created was that if the committee did gain access to some of the key figures in the Trump administration, as it has, he wouldn’t know about it until too late, nor would there be anyone sitting on the committee to represent the pro-Trump point of view.
The Point: Regardless of whether it makes criminal referrals – for Trump or anyone else in his orbit – the January 6 committee has already succeeded in getting deep into the former President’s inner circle. Which I did not see coming.