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DEMOCRATS, DOUBLE STANDARDS, AND THE CAPITOL RIOT COMMITTEE. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she barred Representatives Jim Jordan and Jim Banks from the Capitol riot investigating committee because the two Republicans “had made statements and taken actions that I think would impact the integrity of the committee.” Pelosi said Jordan and Banks also “made statements and took actions that just made it ridiculous to put them on such a committee seeking the truth.”
But what about Pelosi’s Democratic choices for the committee? Might some of their statements and actions in the past impact the integrity of the committee? And have some of them said and done things that were so at odds with the facts as to make it ridiculous to put them on a committee seeking the truth?
Start with Pelosi’s pick for chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson. On a long-ago January 6 — in 2005, when Congress met to certify President George W. Bush’s victory in the 2004 presidential election — Thompson challenged the certification of the results from Ohio. At the time, some progressive Democrats were promoting wild theories about alleged tampering with electronic voting machines in the state. The House Democrats who voted against certification for Ohio’s results said they were simply protesting the result, and not trying to overturn the election. But the fact is, they focused their challenge on a single state, which just happened to be the decisive state in the 2004 contest. Had they gotten their way, and had Ohio been put in Democrat John Kerry’s column instead of Bush’s, Kerry would have been elected president.
In June 2008, Thompson voted to move forward articles of impeachment against President Bush.
By 2017, Thompson had become a devotee of theories that the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. On January 20, 2017, Thompson boycotted Trump’s inauguration because of his concern “about the role that Russia had in our country’s democratic process,” according to a spokesman. Thompson was also angry that Trump had criticized Representative John Lewis after Lewis called Trump an “illegitimate” president.
In December 2017, and again in January 2018, Thompson voted to move forward articles of impeachment against Trump. While he believed more than ever in the collusion theory, the articles Thompson supported proposed to remove Trump from office for different reasons — for his comments on the Charlottesville riot, for his statements on the NFL, and in particular on quarterback/activist Colin Kaepernick, and for his reported description of Haiti, African nations, and El Salvador as “s—holes.” Thompson later also voted in favor of Russia-based impeachment as well.
Could one argue that Thompson, with his embrace of discredited and unproven conspiracy theories, has made statements and taken actions that would impact the integrity of the Capitol riot investigating committee?
Then there is another Democratic member, Representative Adam Schiff. As the ranking minority on the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff promoted the slanderous and unsubstantiated theories of the Steele dossier. For example, Schiff publicized a theory that Russia offered low-level Trump campaign adviser Carter Page potentially billions of dollars to influence Trump — Schiff actually read the dossier’s allegations aloud at an Intelligence Committee hearing. Schiff protested bitterly when his Republican counterpart on the committee, Chairman Devin Nunes, revealed that the dossier was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party and that the FBI improperly used it to get a court-approved warrant to wiretap Page. Of course, the Trump-Russia special counsel, Robert Mueller, found no evidence to establish the claim about Page.
On the broader issue of collusion, Schiff claimed to have proof that it was true. There was “ample evidence of collusion in plain sight,” he said. But the Mueller investigation, which had infinitely more resources than Schiff, plus full law enforcement powers, could not establish that collusion ever took place, much less that it involved anyone in the Trump campaign. Schiff devoted years to leading his party — and much of the media — on a wild goose chase, even before he was chosen by Pelosi to lead the first Trump impeachment, which failed to convict the president.
Could one argue that Schiff has made statements and taken actions that would impact the integrity of the Capitol riot investigating committee?
Like Chairman Thompson, another committee member, Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin, challenged the certification of Electoral College results. He did so on January 6, 2017, when Congress met to ratify Trump’s victory. Within a few months, Raskin was an adherent of the Russia theory, joining the earliest advocates for impeaching the president on the basis of that never-established supposition.
Could one argue that Raskin has made statements and taken actions that would impact the integrity of the Capitol riot investigating committee?
At a news conference Thursday, Pelosi attempted to brush away the Republican charge that she kicked Jordan and Banks off the committee because they had voted to challenge the 2020 state election results, even as she tolerated members of her side on the committee who had done the same thing in earlier elections. Pelosi noted that she allowed Republican Representative Troy Nehls to remain on the committee, even though he had also challenged the 2020 results. A lawmaker’s position on the Electoral College certification “had nothing to do” with selection on the committee, Pelosi said. Claiming not to have considered the Republican electoral challenges meant Pelosi didn’t have to address questions about her own members’ actions.
But the records of Thompson, Schiff, and Raskin are what they are. At various times, all three men have been on the conspiracy-theorizing fringes of the political debate. Any reasonable look at their careers would suggest that they need to have their assertions challenged, that when they come up with their next theory, they need to have colleagues in the opposition party to push back on it. Colleagues like Jim Jordan and Jim Banks. Now, Speaker Pelosi has made sure that will not happen.
For a deeper dive into many of the topics covered in the Daily Memo, please listen to my podcast, The Byron York Show — available on the Ricochet Audio Network and everywhere else podcasts can be found. You can use this link to subscribe.