While there are plenty of reasons why Republicans are unhappy with the work of the January 6th select committee, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has discovered a new gripe regarding the group…and it may be their fatal flaw.
Early in their investigation, the committee sought the testimony of Steve Bannon: A right wing media figure who advised Donald Trump in different capacities throughout his political career. Bannon refused to testify and skipped out on his subpoena, prompting the committee to charge him with contempt.
But now, a procedural revelation by the aforementioned McCarthy seems to neuter the committee’s ability to convict on such a charge.
Last July, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew his picks for the Jan. 6 select committee after Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to seat two of his choices.
Now, McCarthy says a criminal conviction of Steve Bannon — who is facing contempt charges for defying a select committee subpoena — would be invalid because the committee doesn’t have enough members.
He appears to have the committee dead to rights on the issue.
“It is undisputed that the Speaker of the House failed to appoint 13 Members to the Select Committee,” McCarthy argued in a legal brief Tuesday, submitted to U.S. District Court judge Carl Nichols, who is presiding over Bannon’s two-count contempt of Congress case. “Failure of the House Speaker to ‘appoint 13 Members to the Select Committee’ deprives the Select Committee of its competence and no criminal prosecution arising from conduct (or lack thereof) before the Select Committee can lie.”
And while there appears to be some argument over whether to not McCarthy’s withdrawal of his picks constitutes extenuating circumstances, at least one judge has already ruled on the subject.
“That the resolution states that Speaker Pelosi “shall” appoint thirteen members to the Select Committee is not conclusive as to whether thirteen members are required for it to lawfully operate,” Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, wrote in a ruling upholding the select committee’s legitimacy earlier this month.
But legal legitimacy is not the end-all, be-all of legitimacy itself, and the court of public opinion has long suggested that this committee is little more than a partisan dirt-gathering mechanism, likely to unleash its findings on the world just in time to meddle in the 2022 midterms.