Troy Nehls

Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, in blue shirt, stands near police with guns drawn as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

WASHINGTON — House Republicans vowed Wednesday to boycott an inquiry into the Jan. 6 riot after Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected inclusion of two outspoken Trump allies on the special panel, saying their involvement would undermine its integrity.

Pelosi did agree to seat Texas freshman Rep. Troy Nehls, a former sheriff who helped defend the House chamber during the attack. But Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy insisted that without Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana, the inquiry had become a “sham.”

“This panel has lost all legitimacy and credibility,” McCarthy said, calling her move “an egregious abuse of power.”

Jordan is the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, and was Donald Trump’s most vehement defender during his impeachments. Choosing him was an obvious provocation. Banks chairs the Republican Study Committee, a large conservative caucus, and was McCarthy’s choice to serve as senior Republican on the special committee.

“With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members, I must reject the recommendations,” Pelosi said. “The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision.”

At a hastily called news conference, McCarthy and his five choices for the panel hit back.

“She knew we would fight back against their political games,” Banks said.

Jordan, in a typically pugilistic and deflective attack, accused Pelosi of trying to control the investigation to avoid talking about rising crime, higher gas prices and the border crisis.

“Is she afraid what he might ask?” McCarthy said.

He insisted that Republicans will pursue their own inquiry, with an emphasis on why the Capitol wasn’t adequately defended on Jan. 6 rather than on Trump’s role in the violence, as Democrats prefer.

“They made a decision to have National Guard, without weapons, down on the street,” McCarthy said, complaining that Pelosi refused to allow the Jan. 6 probe to also look into an unrelated attack three months later, when a lone driver ran over a Capitol Police officer.

Pressed to clarify whether the GOP probe would explore Trump’s role in stoking the violence, McCarthy made clear the preference for focusing on police tactics, intelligence and fortification of the Capitol, reinforcing the perception that Republicans want to avoid discussion of Trump’s culpability or the role of the Proud Boys and other hate groups.

“We’ll look at anything that built up and caused this place to not be protected,” McCarthy said.

“They just want to be partisan. They just want to attack the former president,” Jordan said.

Senate Republicans balked at creation of an independent commission akin to the one that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, which would have taken a broad look both at preparations for a potential attack and the causes and individuals to blame for it.

As a fallback, on June 30 the House voted to create a “Select Committee on the January 6th Insurrection,” a label that itself Republicans view as inflammatory.

Nearly all Republicans opposed the investigation, except for a few who had supported Trump’s impeachment for inciting the riot. Pelosi named one of those, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, to the panel. Republicans stripped Cheney of her post in GOP leadership for her ongoing criticism of Trump.

“We need a comprehensive investigation as to who organized this attack, who paid for it, how they nearly succeeded in overthrowing a presidential election, why they did it and how we must organize ourselves to prevent anything like it from ever happening again,” Pelosi said.

Nehls spent 25 years in law enforcement, and served as sheriff in Fort Bend County near Houston before winning his seat last fall.

Among the most dramatic images of the day were those of Nehls at a barricade, next to officers brandishing handguns as the mob tried to force their way in. He called the attack “a disgrace.” But like Jordan and Banks, he also voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory.

He said Wednesday that he wanted to use his expertise “to find the truth as to why this Capitol was so unprepared.”

“I wanted to get to the truth but unfortunately Speaker Pelosi has shown that she is more interested in playing politics,” Nehls said at a news conference Wednesday with McCarthy and the others would have served on the select committee: Jordan, Banks and Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois and Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota.

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