Politico echoes Republican spin against January 6 committee

Media outlets should cover the fact that Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks lied about the 2020 election and openly intended to sabotage the investigation — not just parrot Republicans’ attempts to blame Speaker Nancy Pelosi

House Republicans have been working fervently to delegitimize any comprehensive investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol, when supporters of former President Donald Trump attempted to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. And now Politico is helping to carry their message that this is all somehow Democrats’ fault.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced Wednesday that she was rejecting the appointment of two Republican members, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jim Banks (R-IN), who had been put forward by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for the House select committee to investigate the attack. McCarthy has since called for his three remaining nominees to boycott the committee — though the group will still have a bipartisan membership, as Pelosi had previously selected Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) for one of her own appointed committee seats.

Rachel Bade, one of the authors of Politico’s Playbook newsletter, tweeted Wednesday:

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Bade’s tweet put the blame on Democrats for any probe appearing “partisan and political,” rather than focusing on all the ways that Republicans had opposed the investigation in the first place — including their prior rejection of a bipartisan commission that would have offered them a much greater role.

Furthermore, Politico’s write-up of the news — not authored by Bade, but co-bylined from reporters Olivia Beavers, Heather Caygle, and Nicholas Wu — said in the second paragraph that Pelosi’s decision was “likely to galvanize House Republicans against any participation in the investigation,” ignoring that they had actually fought the probe from the beginning.

Congressional Republicans do not need any help to “galvanize” themselves against an investigation of January 6

House Republicans previously voted against a bipartisan commission outside Congress — with McCarthy pulling the rug out from New York GOP Rep. John Katko’s efforts to negotiate for a commission that would have given Republicans a coequal role in appointing members. Then, after Senate Republicans filibustered against the bipartisan commission, the House created its select committee with only two Republican members voting for its formation.

But with all that background information, Politico is carrying the spin that Republican opposition to an investigation has somehow been provoked by Pelosi’s refusal to impanel two members in particular — members who both spread Trump’s lies about the election, and have made it clear their only purpose on the committee would be to obstruct a clear investigation.

How Jim Jordan and Jim Banks spread election lies, and were going to block the January 6 investigation

Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent previously wrote this week: “If and when the Republicans who serve on the Jan. 6 select committee do everything in their power to sabotage a full accounting, let’s not treat this as just Republicans being Republicans.” (Emphasis in original.)

Sargent’s point was that media outlets “are not obliged to accept GOP venality, bad faith and contempt for the public interest as just normal features of our politics.” But in this instance, Politico is doing exactly that by its treatment of Pelosi’s decision as causing offense — rather than treating the attempt to appoint Jordan and Banks as the true outrage here.

As detailed by CNN in January, Jordan not only insisted repeatedly that Trump really won the election — but after the January 6 attack on the Capitol, he proceeded to lie about his past statements and insist that he’d never said the election was stolen.

For example, Jordan declared in a December 9 appearance on Fox News Radio: “I don't know how you can ever convince me that President Trump didn't actually win this thing based on all the things you see.” Jordan was also one of several House Republicans who met with Trump in late December to confer on strategy to reject the certification of the election results.

But during a House committee hearing on January 12, he insisted: “I've never said that this election was stolen.”

Then on Monday, following the news that he would be tapped for the committee, Jordan appeared on Newsmax’s Stinchfield and publicly trashed the investigation: “I want to serve because I — we know what this is. This is impeachment round 3, this is to go after President Trump.”

As for Banks, he had not only voted against the certification of the Electoral College votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania but also appeared the night of January 6 on Fox News, after Congress had reconvened, to announce that he would introduce legislation against mail-in voting, as part of an effort to “restore the trust and integrity in our elections.”

On Monday, he also released a statement making it clear that his only intention of serving on the committee was to disrupt it, claiming that “Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda,” and that he would “not allow this committee to be turned into a forum for condemning millions of Americans because of their political beliefs.”

Even more suspicious, perhaps, was his promise of what he would actually do on the committee: “I will do everything possible to give the American people the facts about the lead up to January 6, the riot that day, and the responses from Capitol leadership and the Biden administration.” Of course, the Biden administration had nothing to do with the response on January 6 — because Donald Trump was president on that day, while both the violent mob and the objecting members of Congress, including Banks and Jordan, were attempting to stop Biden from becoming president.

But on Monday, Politico first greeted the news of McCarthy’s appointments by obfuscating their role in attempting to overturn the election result: “While the California Republican took his time deciding between naming more experienced members to the probe, filling his seats with firebrands, and refusing to tap any members at all, McCarthy ultimately chose to go with the former route with his selections.” (The piece also praised the GOP appointees’ “committee leadership and oversight chops,” noting that Banks “oversees the largest House GOP caucus” and “is viewed within the party as a skilled messenger.”)

Such phrasing ignores the obvious reality that Jordan and Banks are indeed “firebrands,” instead treating their appointments to the January 6 committee as just politics as usual — rather than an attempt to actively undermine the investigation, following a literal assault on the United States as a constitutional republic.