Jul 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP doubters unswayed by Jan. 6 testimony

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Elise Stefanik are seen watching Rep. Jim Jordan speak before the first Jan. 6 select committee hearing.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Elise Stefanik watch Rep. Jim Jordan speak before today's meeting of the Jan. 6 select committee. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rather than winning over House Republicans, the dramatic testimony delivered during the Jan. 6 select committee's first public hearing led them to double down on their criticism that the investigation is purely political.

Why it matters: The remarks signal that regardless of the panel's eventual findings, many Republican lawmakers — most of whom didn't even watch Tuesday's hearing — will dismiss the proceedings as a partisan witch hunt.

Driving the news: Axios spoke with multiple Republican House members following the graphic details laid out by four police officers on-site during the Capitol attack. Several other members avoided questions altogether.

  • While nearly all said they respected the officers who testified, it didn't change their opposition to the committee's investigation.
  • Instead, Republicans continue to rail against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for rejecting two of the five appointments House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made to the panel.
  • They also told Axios they believe the Democrats' goal is to use the investigation to malign their party and Donald Trump, and blame both for what happened.

Many — including McCarthy and other speakers during a news conference preceding the hearing — tried to shift the focus to the security failures that led to the breach of the Capitol.

  • They blamed Pelosi, who they said was just as much in charge of Capitol security as then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky).
  • Some Republican critics have accused her and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser of being concerned about the optics of a heavy federal law enforcement and military presence following criticism of President Trump's use of such forces to quell Black Lives Matter protests.

What they're saying:

  • Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), who McCarthy initially appointed to serve on the committee before retracting all his picks: "The proof's gonna be in the pudding later when they start asking questions. ... Remember, the security posture was a failure of epic proportions ... because of failures of leadership in this institution."
  • Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who's running for Senate in Alabama, told Axios' Sarah Mucha: "I haven't given it any substantive thought at all. I've chuckled, on occasion, but what's going on with this group of people that Nancy Pelosi has put together?"
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.): "She kicked Jim Jordan off. It can't be perceived as anything but partisan."
  • Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.): "Speaker Pelosi kicked off her partisan circus. It’s a sad state of affairs when Congress has an opportunity to provide the American people with answers but the authoritarian House Speaker has put her partisan narrative over pursuing the facts."

What we're hearing: Discussions about a potential Republican-led investigation into the events of Jan. 6 have been taking place behind closed-doors.

  • Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), one of those Pelosi kicked off the panel, has been floated to lead it.
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