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Republicans Pull Out of Insurrection Commission. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired July 21, 2021 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00]

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Pelosi has broken this institution, denying the voice of members who have served in the military, Jim Banks, a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan, serves on PASK (ph), chair of the largest caucus in the Republican Conference, and law enforcement, as well as a leader of a standing committee.

Jim Jordan isn't ranking of just his first committee. He's done it before. Jim Jordan has served on a select committee and serves on one now.

Made it undeniable this panel has lost all legitimacy and credibility. And it shows exactly what I warned back at the beginning of January, that Pelosi would play politics with this. For more than six months, you have a better example of the Senate, bipartisan. Schumer didn't pick who went on as the Republicans. They already have the report done by two different committees.

Two main questions. Why was the Capitol so ill-prepared for that day, when they knew on December 14 they had a problem? And what have we done to make sure that never happens again? Pelosi has created a sham process.

Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republicans, we will not participate. But we think it's too important that those two questions, why were we ill-prepared? Why did they know on December 14? Why would they jeopardize the lives of the Capitol Police?

We will run our own investigation. We have law enforcement. We have military. We have doctors. We have people from all walks of life. They want to know the answer. The American people deserve that. They don't deserve politics. They don't deserve destroying the institution.

No committee in Congress will work if one person is picking all who can serve. This has not happened before.

House Democrats must answer this question. Why are you allowing a lame-duck speaker to destroy this institution? This is the people's house, not Pelosi's house. We will do our job, though. We asked to do our job. We want to do our

job. I may object to the people that she put on the committee, but I respect her right to do it, just as every leader has done before.

Destroy an institution for your own political gain. America expects more and deserves more.

With that, I want to bring up Congressman Jim Banks, individual who deserved -- who served his country in Afghanistan, served in the state legislature, serves in Congress, and is chair of the largest caucus in the Republican Conference.

Jim Banks.

REP. JIM BANKS (R-IN): Thank you.

I thank the leader, first and foremost, for his trust that he placed in me as a leader of our party to put me in charge of this Republican effort.

This just goes to show how partisan of an exercise we said this was all along, that Nancy Pelosi would take me and Jim Jordan first off of this committee and the rest of us as well by rejecting the first two of us. She knows that we were prepared to fight to get to the truth, to find the facts about what happened on that day, to make sure that January 6 would never happen again.

But she doesn't want to go down that path. She knows that we're already asking questions in just the two -- the first couple of days that Leader McCarthy appointed us to this task, questions that Democrats have never asked about why the Capitol was vulnerable on that day, when we had intelligence for weeks leading up to January 6 that told us that something dangerous would happen on January 6.

She knew we would fight back against their political games. And that's why she didn't want us to participate in this committee. It just goes to show this is entirely a political exercise on her part. It's a shame. The American people deserve better. They demand answers about January 6, because the American people demand that their leaders step up to make sure that it never happens again.

But we all know that this is an exercise in politics. It's not an exercise in finding the facts. And that's what's -- that's what's unfortunate about the speaker's move.

[14:05:03]

It just goes to show we -- it begs the question that all of us should be asking. What is the speaker afraid of? I will leave you with that.

Jim Jordan.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Thank you, Jim.

The leader and Jim are exactly right. This has always been about politics. And today's actions of the speaker just confirm that. But, frankly -- and I have said this before -- what else are they

going to talk about? They have been so focused on the January 6 committee. What else are they going to talk -- are they going to talk about crime, the fact that crime is up in every major urban area in this country?

Are they going to talk about the border crisis? I mean, think about this. March was the highest month on record for illegal crossings until April. April was the highest month on record until May. May was the highest month on record until June. Can't talk about that. They are going to talk about inflation?

They going to talk about the fact that the price of eggs is up, the price of milk is up, the price of bread is up, the price of gas is up, the price of an airline ticket is up, the price of a used -- the price of everything is up? They can't talk about that.

So they're going to be partisan. And they're going to focus on this. But as the leader said, and as Mr. Banks said, I don't think they're going to address the fundamental question, the fundamental question of, why wasn't there a proper -- a proper security presence at the Capitol that day?

They're not going to address that. And only one person can answer that question, only one, the speaker the United States House of Representatives. My hunch is, my hunch is the reason they don't won't address that question, my hunch is, is, because what happened all last year?

The Democrats normalized anarchy. They normalized rioting and looting. And when rioters and looters attacked our law enforcement personnel, when rioters and looters destroyed small businesses, what did Democrats do? They went out and raised money to bail them out of jail. And they continued to talk about defunding the police and in fact did that in all these major urban areas, which is why crime is up.

So they don't want to talk about that stuff. They just want to be partisan. They just want to continue to attack the former president. They want to play their political games.

So I applaud Leader McCarthy for saying, we're going to do our job. We're going to continue to work and get to the bottom and answer the questions that the leader raised, the questions that, frankly, the American people want answers to.

With that, I recognize (OFF-MIKE)

REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R-IL): On the evening of January 6, when we reconvened to take the certification of the election results from our states, I actually spoke with Speaker Pelosi on the dais. And she brought up a bipartisan, bicameral commission to me at that point in time.

I introduced a bill to create a bipartisan, bicameral commission. We had some questions about how this would be implemented, and Speaker Pelosi decided instead to put forth her own select committee that we now know is a completely partisan process.

It's very disappointing, because I think all of us were looking forward to our first hearing next week to be able to get answers to some of the questions that were raised by Leader McCarthy, by Ranking Member Banks, and by Jim Jordan.

But we're not going to get those answers in even a partisan manner on this committee, because she chose to take the unprecedented step to try and veto our own members.

We are going to continue to ask questions. And, frankly, there are many unanswered questions about why this Capitol was so unprepared. And the key question, as Leader McCarthy said, is, are we in a better position now security-wise?

There are many issues that we saw in Capitol Police I.G. reports and others that laid out reasons why our officers didn't have the equipment, they didn't have the training, and they didn't have the preparation and the backup to adequately address what happened on January 6.

Why? And what have we done? What has the speaker done? And, more importantly, what has she asked the Capitol Police board that is made up of her own appointee? What have they done to put this Capitol complex in a situation to address another security issue?

Those questions would have been asked. Those questions will still be asked, regardless of whether or not she continues to play politics. And I will end with this, by saying I have seen and witnessed political violence personally out on a baseball field in Virginia just a few short years ago.

I have seen what well-trained Capitol Police officers like David Bailey and Crystal Griner were able to do to run toward gunfire as we ran away from it.

And it's disappointing to see that our Capitol Police officers, who I witnessed that bravery that day, are still not put in a position to be able to make sure that another type of January 6 would not happen again.

She needs to answer questions. We were hoping to get those answers. But, unfortunately, we're not going to.

I'd like to introduce Kelly Armstrong.

REP. KELLY ARMSTRONG (R-ND): Thanks, Rodney.

I agree with everything that's been said. I have served for two years with Jim Jordan on Oversight and Judiciary. We have been through a lot of tough hearings together, a lot of hearings that were going to be similar to this.

[14:10:05]

And we know how to do this. We have credibility with the American people. And to strike them -- strike Jim Banks and Jim Jordan from this committee is just unacceptable.

And I think it's important to recognize that every time Speaker Pelosi uses the word unprecedented, it happens to consolidate absolute power in the speaker's office. It was unprecedented to build a glass cage in order to make sure she got the gavel. It was unprecedented to put metal detectors on the floor of the House.

It's unprecedented to have proxy voting, and it sure unprecedented for the majority leader to strike minority members for a committee. I don't think this committee is about the last election. I don't even think it's about the next election. It's about the speaker's office maintaining an absolute iron grip on her conference and the people's House for the next 18 months.

And I'm concerned that, after 200 years of precedent, we're completely altering how the things -- how things are done in the people's house. But you know what else? I'd be concerned if I was a majority member right now, because the map, the math and their policies are going to help us take back the majority in two years.

And these things never go back to the way they were once they start. So we need to be calling out what's going on. Every member of the U.S. House of Representatives is elected by their district, and they have a right to serve. And the minority -- minority has a right to put the people on the committees they want.

And we shouldn't be changing those for this committee or any other committee.

And with that, I will turn it over to Sheriff Nehls.

REP. TROY NEHLS (R-TX): When I was chosen by Leader McCarthy to serve on this select committee, I assured him, I told him, I said I will take the 30 years of law enforcement experience I have, the eight years as sheriff to uncover, find out exactly what took place on January 6, to find the truth as to why this Capitol was so unprepared.

I spent countless hours. I brought this binder up. I have examined the Senate report, examining, talking -- looking at witness statements, looking at the Capitol Hill's policies and procedures. And I was alarmed, truly alarmed, at what I uncovered.

I was certainly prepared to help this committee get to the truth. I wanted to get to the truth. But, unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi has shown that she's more interested in playing politics.

I stand with Leader McCarthy and the other colleagues on this committee. I assured the leader that I will continue to play a role and do everything I can to make sure that what took place on January 6 can never, ever happen again in this great country of ours. I made that commitment. I will remain strong in that commitment to the leader.

Thank you.

MCCARTHY: Yes, sir. QUESTION: Mr. Leader, you're complaining that you don't have a bipartisan opportunity here to investigate January 6, but you stood in the way of a bipartisan commission that was going to be made up of independent members--

MCCARTHY: No, I didn't.

QUESTION: -- equal number of Republicans and Democrats.

Your conference voted against that. At least, a majority of your conference voted against that. And it was blocked in the Senate. Why did you not allow that to go forward if what you say you want is a bipartisan investigation into what happened on January 6?

MCCARTHY: For the same politics Pelosi played then, at the same time, when she used the scope of that.

Remember how long it took? On January 13, Rodney Davis and myself both requested a 9/11 Commission. Even those who ran the 9/11 Commission criticized Nancy Pelosi for what she wanted to do. We had Officer Evans killed on Good Friday. But she said you couldn't look at that.

If you study the 9/11 Commission, they didn't study what happened on just September 11. They studied what built up to it. But she said, no, you could not do that.

Why would she make a scope that you couldn't get the answers to? Why would an officer's life not matter to her? That's why people objected. People asked for it before. She played six months with this. Why she played her games and continued to do so?

The Senate acted, two committees. The report is done. The FBI has arrested more than 500 people. The architect of the Capitol has $10 million. And what does she do today? Continue the same sham she's done all along.

Never, never in the history of this institution for a select committee -- and she admitted it to me when she called me -- have they ever done something like this.

Think for one moment. Jim Banks is a Naval officer, defended his nation, served in Afghanistan, elected by his peers of the largest conference in the committee, but she wants to say, predetermined, that he can't serve, that Pelosi can pick and choose.

[14:15:03]

Jim Jordan, is she afraid of a question from Jim? Is she afraid what he might ask or fight for? He's a ranking member, not his first committee, but his second. Why would she be afraid?

Did she set the committee itself to be one-sided? Yes. More so than any select committee before? Yes, she did. We warned you from that moment in time she was playing politics. Today just showed the American people exactly what everybody was warned. It's the American people who lose in this, but we're not going to

allow that to happen. We're going to get to the answer of the question. Why were we ill-prepared? Why, if they knew on December 14? Why if they found IEDs earlier in the morning? Why were not the National Guard here at the Capitol, but they were running street signs down in the city?

Who made that judgment?

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: You said in your statement that Republicans will -- quote -- "instead pursue our own investigation of the facts."

MCCARTHY: Yes.

QUESTION: What does that look like, first off?

And, secondly, is this your final move, pulling your appointees? Or is there a chance to reverse this?

MCCARTHY: The only way to reverse this is seat these five. That's the only way.

But I will add to this, to get a -- to be able to look at the challenge of what happened and answer those two questions. Why were we ill-prepared, and make sure it never happens again.

QUESTION: But in terms of--

MCCARTHY: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: -- an actual body, what is that investigation?

QUESTION: In addition to those questions, do you intend to look at why this happened, not the security failures, but why there was an attack on the Capitol and what led up to it?

MCCARTHY: We will answer all the questions, yes.

QUESTION: I want to know more specifically, what do you say to these families and to these officers and particularly officers that you met with--

MCCARTHY: Yes.

QUESTION: -- about this?

And, more specifically, many of them are just frustrated. They see this as politics. But, at the end of the day--

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: It's true. It is politics by Pelosi.

QUESTION: So how does that help them-- (CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: What helps them is we will go forward, just as I promised them, and we will get the answer to those questions. We will make sure they're protected, just as we will talk about Officer Evans, too, who died on Good Friday.

QUESTION: But how--

MCCARTHY: Just we will go through and get the answers.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Mr. Leader, on May 20, in this room, I think you told us that you were prepared to testify about your conversation with President Trump on the afternoon of January 6. Do you still stand by that? Are you still prepared to testify about--

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: Well, my phone call is out there.

The question is, do you make a phone call after people are in the Capitol to advise the president of what's going on? Doesn't get to the answer of why were we ill-prepared. That's really playing politics. And it really shows that that's the issue that they want to go to, of where they want to drive. We want to get all the answers.

Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Your own ranking member, John Katko, said (OFF-MIKE) bipartisan independent January 6 commission that he crafted had the ability to have a wider scope, outside of January 6.

MCCARTHY: Unfortunately, the Democrats and Pelosi said no to that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE). The question is, what would you need to have it (OFF-MIKE) sign on to something similar to that?

MCCARTHY: It's very easy, exactly what we said on the 13th of January.

But Pelosi played politics. Make it just like the 9/11. Let us discover what built up to it. Why was that decision made the National Guard were not here, when, on December 14--

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: Can I answer the question? OK, let me answer the question.

So, on December 14, they became aware that there was a problem. They made a decision to have National Guard without weapons down on the streets to do traffic, but not in the Capitol. They found IEDs earlier in the morning. We had an officer killed beyond that day on Good Friday, but Pelosi

would only let us with a scope this far. I don't believe it allowed to go further. And I think we need to.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Mr. Leader, Speaker Pelosi didn't actually enumerate her objections when she (OFF-MIKE) her official notice about rejecting your members.

But--

MCCARTHY: She did to me.

QUESTION: That's what I was going to say.

What did she tell you? (OFF-MIKE) told us that among their objections -- and I would like you to respond to this -- are that Republican members recently were photographed with someone who was here and broke into the Capitol on January 6, and also--

MCCARTHY: No, she never said nothing about that.

QUESTION: OK. Well, this is something that we're being told is an issue.

MCCARTHY: She said her members didn't want her to put these people on.

QUESTION: Could you speak to that idea, though, that members--

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: I don't know what you're talking about. I don't know what you're talking about.

QUESTION: The idea that some of your words about needing an investigation of last summer's protests?

MCCARTHY: No.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: No, let me be clear. Let me be clear.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) object to that.

MCCARTHY: They shouldn't object to that.

If they want a 9/11 Commission, the 9/11 Commission looked at September 11, but they looked at what built up and caused 9/11. Should we not look at what -- build up and caused this?

[14:20:03]

Should we not question why the National Guard was not allowed onto the Capitol? Should we not question, why would -- why were the Capitol Police not fully trained? You're putting their lives in danger.

Why were the riot gear stuck and locked in a bus down the street? We need these answers for these officers. We need to not ever put them in this place again.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Yes, sir.

Will the Republican committee look at President Trump's actions leading up to and on January 6?

MCCARTHY: We will look at anything that built up of what caused this place to not be protected. And we will look to make sure that it never happens again.

Yes, sir.

Yes, you.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE).

You mentioned Mr. Banks and Mr. Jordan not being allowed on. But at the same time, given that Mr. Jordan is a ranking member and Mr. Banks -- and Mr. Banks also as a leader of a large caucus, Mr. Davis is also -- or Representative Davis, I'm sorry.

Representative Davis is also a ranking member, and Speaker Pelosi didn't object to it. Then Representative Nehls also voted to object, along with Mr. -- Representative Banks and Representative Jordan.

Why do you think there was a difference between her objecting to Representative Banks and Representative Jordan, as opposed to Representative--

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: I don't know, because she named a chairman who objected to a presidential. And she has Raskin, who objected and asked for an impeachment too.

So I don't know if the objection matters, because her members have adapted before.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Leader McCarthy, the locked bus with the gear on it, that's a finding from--

MCCARTHY: The Senate.

QUESTION: -- the Senate report.

MCCARTHY: Yes. QUESTION: That's exactly what they investigated.

What do you want to find out? Who locked the bus?

MCCARTHY: Why was it there? Why didn't they have the gear on? Why didn't they have it better positioned?

QUESTION: Isn't the answer that they were just incompetent?

What more do you--

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: Well, if that's incompetent, then what's the solution? We want to find solutions.

This is why, when you look at Sheriff Troy Nehls, 30 years of law enforcement, first, what did he do that day? He'd been a member for three days. He's inside the chambers. People are breaking in. First, he joins other members and they barricade the door.

People are breaking the glass. Officers have their weapons drawn to protect from people coming in. A member for only three days. We didn't call him congressman that day. We called him sheriff. You may have watched the photos.

He looks through the glass. He doesn't have a weapon. But he calms the situation. He talks to those who were on the other side. That's a leader. He sat through the entire Senate report.

He's laid out every chronological order of what has taken place. He used his own experience of being a sheriff from eight years preparing for situations just as what he was drawn into. And he has even more questions.

That's why he wanted to serve. That's why we put him on. This is a microcosm of our conference. We have a right to name. But this is what Nancy Pelosi has denied.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: When you initially laid out your reasoning coming out against the bipartisan commission, you kind of raised concerns about (OFF-MIKE).

MCCARTHY: Scope. No, it was the scope.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) federal investigation (OFF-MIKE).

MCCARTHY: Well, there's a concern there, because now you're getting individuals that are -- decisions being made, whether they're serving time are not.

You do not want to interfere with that. So the language mattered. But from the very beginning, remember, I asked for a commission back in January just like 9/11. Pelosi played games all along the way. She would deal with the scope, and it was very clear of what we laid out, equal number, equal subpoena power, equal scope, and don't interfere with any law enforcements going forward.

She could not agree to that. And we watched today, even when the sides were separated, even when the power went to one, she went further than anyone's gone before. I think it's very clear to the American public this is a sham.

But we will make sure we get to the real answers. Thank you very much.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK, you have been listening to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the five Republicans that he had picked for the January 6 select committee.

McCarthy has now pulled all five of those members from that committee.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yes, that happened after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to reject two of McCarthy's picks, Republican Congressman Jim Jordan and Jim Banks.

He says the Republicans will now do their own investigation into the attacks, as we heard the focus there for him is, why weren't the officers prepared there at the Capitol?

But, of course, there's so many more questions than that.

This is the speaker statement: "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."

[14:25:12]

CAMEROTA: CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill. Margaret Talev is a CNN political analyst and managing editor of Axios. They have been listening along with us.

Manu, that was fascinating to listen to how they're now spinning why they can't be on this committee. What did you hear?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, clearly, the Republicans had never wanted to be part of this committee to begin with. They didn't want this investigation to happen.

They opposed -- all except for a few dozen opposed the creation of an outside commission. Then they all, except for one, opposed the creation of a select committee -- and two, I should say -- opposed the creation of a select committee.

So this decision by Pelosi in some ways viewed by Republicans that I have spoken to as a gift of sorts. They did not want to take part in this investigation. They would have had to have confronted a lot of questions about Donald Trump's role in all of this.

They wanted to shift the investigation, as you heard Kevin McCarthy right there, to focus on Nancy Pelosi, her decision-making in the run- up to what happened on January 6, suggesting that perhaps she in some way was responsible for this complex not being secure, even though Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, also would have say in terms of the security complex.

But they were the questions that Republicans wanted to push. They also want to look into political violence from last summer, from what happened during the racial unrest and the Black Lives Matter movement, to be part of that investigation. They did not want a narrowly focused investigation January 6, which is what Democrats were pursuing here.

So, in a lot of ways, in talking to Republicans, they are relieved that Pelosi took this move and rejected those two members and allowed McCarthy to make the decision to pull out altogether here. So now, going forward, they can say this is a partisan investigation, this is a witch-hunt, they can try to dismiss it, so no matter what is found here, they can say this is a Democrat-only investigation.

But one catch to all of this, guys, is the fact that Pelosi had named a Republican, Liz Cheney, to be part of this investigation. And when I caught up with Pelosi earlier, she said, we're still moving ahead, because we have a bipartisan quorum to investigate, having Liz Cheney as part of that.

So it shows you the significance of having that one Republican out of the eight to investigate, even though the other five Republicans that McCarthy picked won't be part of the investigation going forward.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Margaret, what's interesting here is that when you listen to the criticisms of this select committee from Kevin McCarthy and the praise he has for the Senate process, bipartisan, 9/11-like committee that he wanted, there was an option for that, that Republicans voted down, that he now says, well, that wasn't good either, because Pelosi was political from the start.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Correct.

And, as Manu, said, they're -- McCarthy has for months now struggled with what to do, how to handle this when it came time to make a decision. I think, in many ways, with the news conference, we got a pretty good preview, had this commission gone forward with those five members, of what everyday would have been like in the hearing, because it's like this sort of constant redirect to say, it's not really about the role that the former president played or what inspired people to riot.

It's about Democratic failures on security, Democrats inciting riots in general. Like, you could see kind of the messaging play out in that news conference.

The other thing that I'm watching is that I think, in a parallel way, what we're seeing on infrastructure is now playing out on this commission. It is Democrats saying, we would like to do it the bipartisan way, but if Republicans don't want to engage with us, we will find a way to do it on our own. And that's now where Pelosi is going to be. For both parties now, this

is going to be about messaging. And the trick for Democrats is, as they go forward with this, with the exception of Liz Cheney now, it's going to be sort of unfettered Democratic participation in this committee process.

How do they sort of stick to the facts in a way where, if the American public is watching hearings on television, it doesn't -- doesn't feel partisan, it doesn't feel like what the minority leader just sort of set forth there for us?

CAMEROTA: Manu, it was very interesting to hear Jim Jordan and Jim Banks there try to say that they were super enthusiastic, and they had been really happy to serve on this committee, they'd been looking forward to it. I'm paraphrasing.

They were trying to say that, when, just two days ago, they had both made statements that completely denigrated the committee. I will just remind people that, back on Monday, Jim Jordan said: "You know what this is about? This is about going after President Trump. The Democrats don't want to talk about anything else."

That's how he felt about the committee on Monday.

And then Jim -- Congressman Jim Banks said: "Make no mistake. Nancy Pelosi created this committee to solely malign conservatives and to justify the left's authoritarian agenda."

But now they seem heartbroken that the committee, that they're not going to be able to serve.