Rep. Jim Banks is vowing not to back down from investigating the security shortcomings that led to the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 despite Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) booting him on Wednesday.
Pelosi announced on Wednesday she was rejecting two of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) five selections to serve on the committee, with the California Democrat also vetoing Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), another vocal ally of former President Trump.
McCarthy ultimately opted to reject placing any Republicans on the panel — which is tasked with investigating the deadly riot, when a pro-Trump mob attempted to disrupt the certification of the election results — asserting they would move forward with their own investigation.
Banks (R-Ind.), who was tapped by McCarthy to serve as the ranking member on the Jan. 6 select committee, said Pelosi’s decision proves that the Democrats’ intentions were politically motivated.
“It really made me angry. I served my country in Afghanistan and she is saying that I’m not up to playing a serious role on this Jan. 6 committee,” he told The Post Wednesday.
“But it just goes to show all along this was never a serious effort on their part, it’s all a political witch hunt. They want to make this all about Donald Trump, dragging Republican members of Congress through the mud and attacking 75 million people that voted for Donald Trump.”
McCarthy confirmed to The Post that he plans to select Banks to head the separate GOP panel.
Banks alleged that Pelosi and Democrats on the committee are hesitant to look into potential shortcomings that could reflect poorly on the Speaker, with Republicans questioning whether she played a role in delaying the deployment of the National Guard that day.
“When I came out of the gate, the minute that Kevin McCarthy asked me to do this job and I rolled up my sleeves and started digging into the real questions that nobody’s asked, that Democrats don’t want to answer to on why the Capitol was vulnerable on Jan. 6 when we had real intelligence three weeks before and we didn’t do anything to prepare for it,” he said.
“Democrats don’t want to talk about it because at the end of the day, the higher up the food chain you get, the closer to Nancy Pelosi you get, and that spooked Nancy Pelosi and that’s why she rejected Jim Jordan and me.”
Democrats have vehemently denied that Pelosi had any role in the delay in response for additional law enforcement to provide backup for Capitol Police on the day of the attack, arguing Republicans taking aim at the Speaker are attempting to whitewash the severity of the riot.
“On January 6th, the Speaker, a target of an assassination attempt that day, was no more in charge of Capitol security than Mitch McConnell was. This is a clear attempt to whitewash what happened on January 6th and divert blame,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement.
“The Speaker believes security officials should make security decisions. The Speaker immediately signaled her support for the deployment of the National Guard when she was presented with that recommendation on the afternoon of January 6th. Public testimony confirms the fact that the Speaker was not made aware of any request for such a deployment prior to then.”
Banks accused Democrats of avoiding to call certain witnesses that could provide critical information, taking aim at Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the Pelosi-appointed chairman of the select committee, for allegedly not being open to GOP suggestions. “I met earlier today with the head of the Capitol police union, who represents the rank and file members of the Capitol Police. They [the select committee] don’t want him to appear on Tuesday,” he said.
“I wrote a letter this morning, I waited to fire it off to him — but I did call Bennie Thompson yesterday and asked if Republicans would be given a chance to provide a witness and he hemmed and hawed. He was very shaky on the phone, and that now in hindsight I realized that’s because we were immediately going down a path that they were very uncomfortable with.”
The Indiana Republican said in addition to asking about witnesses, Thompson did not answer his multiple requests for information on resources the minority party would be allotted during the course of the probe.
He said he believes Pelosi’s picks to serve on the panel — which include Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and GOP Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — were strategically chosen to fit a narrative. Banks took a swing at Cheney for her decision to buck party lines and accept Pelosi’s offer, a move that has sparked strong backlash from her GOP colleagues.
“I asked him [Thompson], will Republicans have resources for staffing, he hemmed and hawed about that. I asked him if we could delay the hearing next week so we’d have more time to prepare since they hadn’t named our names yet and he hemmed and hawed about that,” he said.
“He doesn’t seem to be that serious of a leader, to be serious, you would have to share an effort like this and come up with something substantive or meaningful at the end of the day. And I think it’s because Pelosi picked people to be on this panel that are going to do what she tells them to do and that’s why she picked Liz Cheney.”
Cheney, a GOP Trump foe, has stood by her decision to sit on the panel, stating “she objected to two, one of whom may well be a material witness to events that led to that day – that led to January 6th. The other, who disqualified himself by his comments in particular over the last 24 hours demonstrating that he is not taking this seriously.”
Thompson’s office declined to provide comment.
Top Republicans initially pushed for the scope of the investigation to stem beyond the Jan. 6 attack, with a sizable number of GOP lawmakers citing it as their reason for voting against a bipartisan 9/11-style commission in June.
Banks said he is hoping for the GOP investigation — which is expected to include Jordan, Reps. Rodney Davis (Ill.), Kelly Armstrong (S.D.) and Troy Nehls (Texas) — to probe an array of instances of political violence. It’s unclear if the panel will expand beyond the initial five lawmakers tapped to serve on the select committee.
“We’re not giving up. These are questions that deserve answers and we’re still members of Congress who can demand answers to serious questions that the Democrats, so far. have not given any attention to.
“If you want to study what happened at the Capitol, you’ve got to study the political violence that happened in big cities around the country. And I think you’ve got what happened on Good Friday with the Capitol police officer that was killed by a left-wing extremist,” he said.
“I think all of it deserves attention, because again it gets back to leadership and it gets back to protocols. And I’ll tell you what the leader of the Capitol police union told us today said, on Jan. 6, the leadership the Capitol Police didn’t prepare them for what was going to happen even though they had three weeks to prepare with legitimate intelligence,” Banks said.
“They didn’t train them for what was going to happen on Jan. 6. They didn’t equip them for what was going to happen on Jan. 6, so why aren’t we talking about that? It’s serious.”