House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, after giving the matter what was no doubt very serious consideration, has formally rejected any participation in a commission on the January 6 insurrection.
McCarthy’s putative reasons for rejecting the commission boil down to two main points. First, he calls the hearing “duplicative,” citing an ongoing criminal investigation by the Justice Department and hearings in the Senate Homeland Security Committee. McCarthy has not previously evinced much concern over the damage of duplicative hearings, having supported ten investigations into Benghazi, six of them in the House, the last of which he frankly described as an effort to damage Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.
Second, he claims that the January 6 investigation fails to appropriately emphasize the events he wishes to use as deflections. It “ignores the political violence that has struck American cities, a Republican Congressional baseball practice, and, most recently, the deadly attack on Capitol Police on April 2, 2021.”
It is true that this investigation of a violent insurrection by the president’s allies, intending to pressure Congress to overturn the election results and hand the sitting president an unelected second term, does not principally focus on other, different violent episodes. The September 11 Commission did not get into the Oklahoma City bombings or the invasion of Grenada. Street gangs taking advantage of protests to loot stores, or mentally ill loners attempting to kill politicians are different problems than a president attempting to cancel an election because he lost.
Of course, it’s not at all clear McCarthy concedes that this is even what happened on January 6. His statement does not refer to the “insurrection” or even the “riot,” but simply calls it “the events of January 6.” And what an eventful day it was. The events included a frantic McCarthy, fearful for his life and those of his colleagues, desperately and futilely pleading with Trump to call off his mob before they killed somebody. McCarthy approaches the subject not only as a party leader but also a potential witness. His lack of enthusiasm is understandable.