The would-have-been ranking member of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) January 6 select committee, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), believes the questions he posed in preparation for the committee's first hearing "spooked" the speaker into rejecting his committee membership.
Banks said in a phone interview with Breitbart News on Wednesday evening — after he found out about the rejection — that he and his Republican colleagues plan to press forward with investigating what he believes was a breakdown within Capitol Police leadership that caused the January 6 riot.
Banks anticipates that the blame for the breakdown will eventually land on Pelosi.
"Why was there a systemic breakdown of leadership at the highest levels of the Capitol Police?" Banks asked. "The more you go down that path and start asking those questions, and the higher you go on the food chain, the closer to Nancy Pelosi you get."
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) named Banks, along with Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Troy Nehls (R-TX), and Rodney Davis (R-IL), as his five appointees to Pelosi's 13-member investigatory committee, but Pelosi on Wednesday vetoed Banks and Jordan, the two standout conservative stalwarts of the group.
"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," Pelosi said in a statement. "The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision."
Banks, who chairs the largest caucus in the House, the Republican Study Committee, had gone on offense the moment he was appointed to the committee and posed a preview of questions he intended to ask as ranking member:
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) July 19, 2021
Neither Banks, nor any of the other four, will be able to ask such questions now as McCarthy said he refuses to participate in assigning members to the committee. It has "lost all credibility," McCarthy said Wednesday at a press conference.
Banks called the committee a "witch hunt," a term Trump famously used hundreds of times to describe the Democrats' impeachment trials against him.
"They were never interested in asking the questions that mattered about January 6," Banks said. "They wanted this to be a political witch hunt from the very beginning to go after Donald Trump, to go after Republicans in Congress, and to go after 75 million people who voted for Donald Trump."
During the interview, Banks also repeatedly pointed to Pelosi's jurisdiction over the security at the U.S. Capitol as an indicator of her fault in the riot. He said, "It's obvious that the moment Jim Jordan and I and Kevin McCarthy started asking questions about that that that spooked Nancy Pelosi."
Banks said he met with the head of the Capitol Police union, Gus Papathanasiou, earlier in the day Wednesday. The Indiana Republican said of his takeaways from the meeting, "There are serious concerns that they raise about the lack of preparation, the lack of training, the lack of equipment, and the Democrats do not want the head of the Capitol Police union to testify on Tuesday."
Pelosi's committee, which will have subpoena power, has its first hearing July 27, and as of the time of this writing, only her eight appointees — seven Democrats and one Republican, the embattled Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) — are seated members of it. Whether Pelosi attempts to fill the five open seats ahead of next week remains to be seen.
Although Pelosi is currently able to proceed with the committee under the guise of bipartisanship, Banks also said committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) is not open to "hearing different perspectives." That fact that was apparent, Banks said, after Thompson rejected Banks's request that Papathanasiou testify before the committee.
"I called Bennie Thomspson yesterday, and I told him that we'd like to invite someone to testify," he said. "It was clear yesterday, he's not interested in hearing the truth and hearing different perspectives."
Banks, who is a leading Republican messenger through his RSC chairmanship, said his party is not deterred by what unfolded Wednesday.
"The Republican conference is as energized as ever to fight back against what these Democrats are doing to tear down our country, and it's a shame that Pelosi played politics in this case instead of digging into the questions that matter, but none of us are surprised," he said.
When asked if he believes Pelosi's move will ultimately work in Republicans' favor as they pursue retaking the House majority next year, Banks said, "No doubt about it. She's just fired up Republicans to work even harder to send her into retirement."
Write to Ashley Oliver at [email protected] .
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