McCarthy’s Continued 1/6 Investigation Obstruction

Short-term politics and long-term harm.

Via CNN: McCarthy threatens to strip GOP members of committee assignments if they accept an offer from Pelosi to serve on 1/6 commission.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday issued a blanket threat during a meeting with freshmen members of his caucus that he would strip any Republican member of their committee assignments if they accept an offer from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on the select committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection, according to two GOP sources with knowledge of the matter.

McCarthy’s threat comes after the House voted to establish the committee. Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois were the only two Republican members to vote in favor of its formation. It’s not yet clear whether Pelosi will appoint Republicans to the commission, but the threat from McCarthy underscores how he feels about any members accepting an offer from the Democrats to serve on the committee.

I presume that this is directed solely at Cheney and Kinzinger, being the only two Republicans to vote for the commission and therefore the only real candidates for appointment by Pelosi directly.

It is quite clear that McCarthy and the Republicans fear open inquiry about the 1/6 Insurrection and want to do everything they can to leave the event in the past and to pretend like it was no big deal. They know that it damages them politically as the direct lines between statements by Trump (and his behavior during the attack on the capitol) are impossible to ignore unless they are obfuscated.

The rejection of a truly bipartisan committee early this year was an attempt at obfuscation. Indeed, the rhetoric after the event has been to try and pretend like it no big deal or just some aberration that doesn’t really need more attention. Now the goal is make any investigation or inquiry into “partisan politics.”

See, for example, a statement from one of the Republicans who voted to impeach, and for a bipartisan committee, but did not vote for the current iteration:

One of those eight members, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), explained her opposition in a statement she posted to her Facebook page this week. It was “not good enough” to have a “partisan committee of politicians” investigate the events of the Jan. 6, she wrote, not least because its findings “will not be viewed as credible by at least half of Americans.”


But, of course, her party is the one actively trying to make any attempt to discuss 1/6 into a partisan one and, specifically, to make sure that any report is not accepted by roughly half of the country.

It is just like claims that new voting regulations are needed because many Americans don’t trust election outcomes, but the reason many Americans don’t trust electoral outcomes is that they have been told not to trust them by leadership in the Republican Party, most especially by a Republican president while he was in office.

The short-term goal for McCarthy is Republican control of the House after the 2022 mid-terms. And he is willing to ignore any serious inquiry about how an assault on the US Capitol took place, including serious potential violence against the Congress of the United States and the Vice President. It is the grossest kind of political self-interest.

And not to be a Pollyanna, as I understand that the Democrats see the truth about 1/6 as to their electoral advantage in 2022 as well.

The difference between the two positions is clear, however, once we eliminate the obvious fact that both parties want what they want for political gain, we are left with the Republicans wanting to downplay, if not outright ignore 1/6, while the Democrats want investigative light shined upon it.

McCarthy may get what he wants, i.e., he may successfully turn understanding of a direct attack on the US Capitol building into a purely partisan issue. This may provide a short-term advantage to his political party. Indeed, it may help net him the title of Speaker of the House. However, he and his co-partisans are sacrificing truth and understanding for short-term gain. Worse, if we don’t get a grip on what happened on 1/6, similar events are likely to follow. An assault on the seat of the government is not to be taken as lightly as McCarthy and his ilk are taking it.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Stormy Dragon says:

    I think McCarthy’s concern is actually non-political: he’s worried he’ll personally be implicated by any serious investigation.

  2. Nightcrawler says:

    if we don’t get a grip on what happened on 1/6, similar events are likely to follow.

    At this juncture, we’re damn near guaranteed to see more attacks. If things progress the way they do in the cybersecurity world, the next attacks will be more organized, sophisticated, and funded — particularly if the lunatics in the GOP wrest back control of Congress in 2022.

    Nothing I can do about it, so YOLO.

  3. Kathy says:

    And not to be a Pollyanna, as I understand that the Democrats see the truth about 1/6 as to their electoral advantage in 2022 as well.

    It’s a given all parties will try to bolster their electoral chances. That said, it’s important to note how they do this.

    Consider the fight between the elder Gracchus and the Roman nobility. It’s a given he and his backers favored land reform in order to gain political power, by improving their electoral chances with the displaced farmers and, to a lesser extent, the urban poor.

    Regardless of show benefited politically, land reform was the right move for the Republic (instead it fell, and then carried out land reform). So it is with the Putsch of January 6th.

  4. KM says:

    Everything is of benefit to someone, especially in politics. Doing the right thing that also happens to put you on the right side of history and get you power is called being intelligent. Altruism is a rare beast in our world and absolutely not a requirement for government work.

    I don’t understand why people seem to think it’s some sort of gotcha to point out Dems are fully aware they’ll get goodies for being good – that’s what’s *supposed* to happen. The party that benefits the People gets the blessing of the People to govern. More voters like you for what you do for them so you get elected more often in a positive feedback cycle. That’s what a healthy democracy is supposed to look like. Knowing that bringing treachery and an attempted coup to light will also damage the opposite party that actively encouraged said bad behavior. likely on camera? *chef’s kiss* Icing on the cake.

  5. gVOR08 says:

    As I’ve said before, the beauty thing about being a liberal is you can do well by doing good.

    And the fact that not addressing this attempt to overturn an election will encourage a repeat is not an unfortunate side effect of Republican intransigence, it’s a goal.

  6. dazedandconfused says:

    There is something McCarthy does feel warrants investigation though, and it can be re-printed verbatim in The Onion.

    For the past several months, I’ve seen a disturbing trend at the National Security Agency. The NSA cannot be used as a political instrument.

    I’ve asked Rep. Devin Nunes to investigate and find answers on behalf of the American people.

  7. PT says:

    Does the fact that he has clear political goals/motivations make it any less shameful? Of course I realize that’s not what you’re saying in this post, but I can’t help but feel like I’m in bizarro world watching this unfold.

  8. Jax says:

    @PT: Imagine prostrating yourself for Donald Effing Trump. I just….I don’t get it. I must be immune to the Kool-Aid.

  9. @PT: Shameful for certain.

  10. Barry says:

    Steven: “They know that it damages them politically as the direct lines between statements by Trump (and his behavior during the attack on the capitol) are impossible to ignore unless they are obfuscated.”

    I disagree strongly. They feel that it will benefit them.

    As for obfuscation, we are seeing that happen in real time.