Other investigative ideas under consideration among House Republicans include establishing their own select committee — or repurposing the current one — to investigate matters such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s role in Capitol security enforcement on January 6, 2021; the intelligence and security failures surrounding that day; and the treatment of the rioters who have been jailed for their role in the insurrection.
“I think that it is important to seek the truth — wherever it may lead — on all of this,” GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, a member of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, told CNN. “We should be looking at whatever we can through the standing committees and have a robust debate about it.”
While McCarthy has vowed to conduct aggressive oversight and investigations, it’s unclear just how far he is willing to go when it comes to January 6 and the 2020 presidential election. And there could be some risks for turning the House into a venue for Trump’s vengeance campaign: Some Republicans have warned against rehashing old issues, arguing that the party would be better served by moving past 2020.
The GOP’s growing desire to craft a counternarrative on January 6 — and shift the blame away from Trump — comes as the former President is gearing up to soon announce another White House bid. Pursuing that effort could also be politically advantageous for McCarthy, whose expected bid for speaker would be made easier with support from Trump. The former President has sometimes criticized the California Republican over how he has handled the GOP’s defense of Trump during the select committee’s investigation.
It’s an idea that has garnered support among allies of the former President. But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — who has refused to comply with a subpoena from the select committee and has long held that the panel lacks the authority to haul in private citizens — is cool to the idea, according to a Republican source familiar with his thinking.
Meanwhile, some of Trump’s fiercest acolytes have started to publicly push for hearings and probes into his baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election — even as the select committee reveals an avalanche of testimony about how those lies incited a violent mob to attack the Capitol.
“I get it. There are people that still want to kick that dead horse,” said Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas, who quit the powerful GOP Steering Committee because he was outraged some of his colleagues weren’t reprimanded for their conduct on January 6. “But at the end of the day, I think the smartest political move for us is to concentrate our efforts on the policies that will absolutely make life better for all Americans.”
Kinzinger, meanwhile, said he wasn’t sweating the GOP subpoena threats and accused Republican leaders of being willing to destroy the Constitution to do Trump’s bidding.
“It just shows (McCarthy) is trying to impress the Freedom Caucus,” Kinzinger told CNN. “It’s who he is.” Other GOP targets: Hunter Biden, Afghanistan withdrawal and the border
McCarthy began working to craft an oversight agenda earlier this year in anticipation of a House Republican majority. He has gathered input from key stakeholders, influential conservatives and — of course — Trump. The GOP leader and relevant committee heads have been actively pursuing document requests and preservation notices, and McCarthy will continue to seek input from across the House GOP Conference about which probes to pursue next year, according to the Republican source familiar with his thinking. Aside from possible election-related inquiries, some of the GOP’s potential investigative targets include the origins of the novel coronavirus, particularly the laboratory leak theory that has gained steam in Republican circles; the bureaucratic decision-making behind Covid-related school closures and vaccine mandates; any business dealings involving President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter; the chaotic pullout from Afghanistan; and the border policies being overseen by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
But there’s also been growing calls on the right for the GOP to use its firepower to rewrite the narrative on January 6. Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, a Trump ally and major proponent of overturning the 2020 election who was subpoenaed by the select committee, sent a letter to the House Oversight Committee this week demanding hearings into the election conspiracy theories featured in the widely debunked movie “2000 Mules.”
There seems to be more of an appetite in the GOP for focusing on the security failures that enabled the Capitol to be breached on January 6. Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois and Jim Banks of Indiana have been leading a GOP investigation into the matter and are planning to unveil their findings in a report sometime this fall, according to sources familiar with the matter. That timeline that would coincide with — and, the GOP hopes, help counter-program — the select committee’s final report about the insurrection.
But not everyone in the GOP believes they should use their power and platform to revisit the 2020 election. “We need to move on. I don’t support retribution politics,” one senior Republican told CNN. “This is not what the majority of Americans care about.” “Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona and Texas, all have issues. … They fall into categories that we call irregularities, abnormalities and inconsistencies,” said Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, who signed the letter long with 10 other House Republicans. “We believe we’re due answers.”