Opinion Kevin McCarthy accidentally tells the truth about the GOP and Jan. 6


HR King
May 29, 2001
With the Jan. 6 House select committee about to deliver some of its biggest revelations about Donald Trump’s coup attempt, it’s fitting that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy just let slip a big truth about the GOP’s propaganda regarding the proceedings.
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On Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Wednesday night, the California Republican essentially came right out and said it: We Republicans refused participation in the committee’s investigation for the express purpose of enabling us to cast it as a partisan exercise and therefore illegitimate.
We can learn something from McCarthy’s buffoonish candor — and from the broader GOP response to the hearings. When the focus is on the raw truth about the scale of the Trump-GOP betrayal of democracy, this bad-faith attempt to pollute revelations of great force by casting Democratic investigators as mere partisan actors shrivels toward irrelevance.

Hannity, surprisingly, did us a service by questioning McCarthy’s decision to pull all Republicans from the committee. Recall that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nixed two McCarthy picks — Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Jim Banks (Ind.), both obvious Trumpist saboteurs — but greenlighted three other picks, whereupon McCarthy yanked them as well.

Here’s the key exchange:
HANNITY: Once they pulled Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, why didn’t you replace them with other people? In retrospect, should you have?
McCARTHY: No, not at all. Because nothing would be different. Think of this. It’s only the majority who has subpoena power. They would never allow Republicans into those meetings when they interview the individuals.
All they would be is, the American people would sit up there, and they would think, this is a fair process.
McCarthy then spewed misdirection about Republicans wanting the committee to examine leftist violence. That was always an absurd false equivalence tactic, given that this was an actual coup attempt by one party’s president, backed by much of that same party.
Then McCarthy said: “If you allow that to go forward, people would think this is a fair process, it’s the minority having a say. No, we would not.”

In other words, if McCarthy permitted Republicans onto the committee, voters might see it as bipartisan, and therefore more legitimate. That couldn’t stand, so even though Pelosi actually did create a process for bipartisan input, Republicans had to decline it, to magically make it “partisan” and therefore “illegitimate,” a word McCarthy throws around constantly.

McCarthy’s account is mostly baloney. True, a GOP minority on the commission could not have unilaterally subpoenaed, say, Hillary Clinton or Hunter Biden. But a ranking GOP member picked by McCarthy would have had input into who was deposed, and how. McCarthy declined this.
What’s more, a Republican does have input into this whole process: Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the vice chair. You may have noticed that, contra McCarthy, this Republican actually has done plenty of witness-questioning. So has Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

McCarthy, of course, would say that doesn’t count. But that gives away the game: The only “bipartisan” committee McCarthy really wanted was one that could be derailed by Republicans who don’t actually want the voting public to learn the full truth about Trump’s coup attempt.

When Pelosi nixed the Trumpist saboteurs, some observers rushed to proclaim this would give McCarthy a weapon to discredit the proceedings as “political.” A glance at the explosive headlines and brutal media dissections of the committee’s revelations suffices to show what a failure McCarthy’s attempt to do that has been.
Indeed, the public doesn’t seem to be letting the process drama overshadow the substance of the findings. Majorities of Americans blame the Jan. 6 violence on Trump and are paying attention to the hearings, and 50 percent believe he committed crimes. A solid majority views the hearings as fair and impartial.

As Brian Beutler writes for the New York Times, Trump’s coup attempt exposed a profound truth: Trump and all the Republicans trying to erase the insurrection with propaganda are, at the most fundamental level, threatening “the American experiment in self-government” and are “unfit to hold public office in a democracy.”

The surprise in the Jan. 6 hearings has been how vividly this truth is crystallizing for the public. So there’s no sense for people who want to defend democracy — small-d and large-D Democrats alike — to run down rabbit holes to defuse bad-faith GOP claims about unfair processes. Nor is there any reason to let credulous punditry about GOP displays of phony outrage shape their approach.
The force of the revelations themselves has blown right through all that frivolous nonsense. There’s a pretty big lesson in that.