House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Monday that everything is good between him and Donald Trump as the former president publicly questions whether it was wise to keep more Republicans off of the House January 6 committee.
“The right decision was the decision I made,” McCarthy told Fox News’ Dana Perino. “If other people change their opinion, read the rules and I think they’ll come back to the same conclusion.”
The former president and McCarthy have talked recently, according to the top House Republican. When Perino asked if things were “all good?” McCarthy responded, “Oh, all good. Yes.”
McCarthy repeated his long-held defense of the decision, arguing that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have only selected Republicans that would have fit her views. The California Republican then named three of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump as examples of people Pelosi would have supported.
“Who was she going to approve as a Republican? Adam Kinzinger? Tom Rice?” McCarthy said. “If Pelosi was picking the other Republicans on there and her first pick was Liz Cheney, who do you think she was going to let on there?”
Trump told Punchbowl News last week that he has come to view McCarthy’s decision to pull his preferred slate of picks of Republicans as unwise. The panel has repeatedly featured unflattering portrayals of Trump, including its airing of portions of former Attorney General Bill Barr’s deposition where he called Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud “bullshit.”
“Well, I think in retrospect, I think it would have been very smart to put [Republicans on the committee] and again, I wasn’t involved in it from a standpoint so I never looked at it too closely,” Trump told PunchBowl. “But I think it would have been good if we had representation.”
Addressing McCarthy’s decision, Trump said, “I think in retrospect [McCarthy should’ve put Republicans on] to just have a voice. The Republicans don’t have a voice. They don’t even have anything to say.”
McCarthy’s defense of his decision is at times misleading.
He appeared to be suggesting that Pelosi would have only approved pro-impeachment Republicans, but this is not true. The speaker, in a move she herself admitted was unprecedented, refused to allow Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks on the committee. Pelosi said she did this because Jordan and Banks were among the 147 Republicans who voted against certifying at least one state’s election results. But she would have allowed McCarthy’s other three picks, Reps. Rodney Davis, Kelly Armstrong, Troy Nehls, none of whom had been extremely critical of the former president or had supported impeaching Trump. It was McCarthy who pulled the trio in protest of Pelosi’s decision.
McCarthy also suggested that Pelosi is to blame for the death of a 9/11-style commission.
Republicans and Democrats fought for months over the scope of the commission and whether it should investigate the topic of broader political violence during the unrest after George Floyd’s murder. In the end, Republican Rep. John Katko, who McCarthy tapped to negotiate the parameters of a panel, struck a deal on a time-limited probe with top leaders from both parties being able to appoint its members. Many of Republicans’ gripes with the January 6 committee would have been addressed by the commission’s structure.
But in the face of Trump’s opposition, McCarthy came out against the commission. Senate Republicans later blocked the proposal and, in the face of this defeat, House Democrats created the select committee. Pelosi later named Cheney as the panel’s vice chair and Kinzinger as an additional member. Both of them are Republicans.
Unlike the commission, the rules establishing the select committee gave Democrats far greater power over the panel, including the ability to issue subpoenas without Republican input. McCarthy said this disparity is also why he decided to pull out of the committee entirely.
“The American public would sit back and think, ‘Oh, this is very bipartisan’ even though the rules would not allow us to bring in any witnesses in or ask questions,” he told Fox News.