House Minority Whip Steve Scalise turned to history Tuesday to defend the GOP’s decision to appoint three members to the Jan. 6 select committee that voted against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Mr. Scalise told reporters on Capitol Hill that Democrats have a short memory on election challenges, saying the shoe was on the other foot not so long ago.
“First of all, I would imagine there are Democrats that have objected to election results,” the Louisiana Republican said. “If you look at Jan. 6 in 2005, for example, a majority of Democrats did not vote to certify the state of Ohio, which would have, by the way, flipped the election to John Kerry if they were successful.”
Mr. Scalise was alluding to a formal challenge a small group of Democratic lawmakers launched 16 years ago against the final vote tallies out of Ohio.
The thrust of that effort — “irregularities” in the vote and worries about flaws in the system — dovetailed with some of the concerns GOP lawmakers aired before 147 Republicans in the House and six Republicans in the Senate voted to object to certifying the 2020 results. Their objections came shortly after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol to protest President Biden’s victory.
The 2005 challenge, however, proved far less popular: 31 Democrats in the House and a single Democrat in the Senate supported the push.
Mr. Scalise’s comments came a day after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tapped Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana as the party’s ranking member on the select committee.
Mr. McCarthy filled out the rest of the GOP spots on the panel with Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, and Troy Nehls of Texas.
Mr. Banks, Mr. Jordan, and Mr. Nehls voted against certifying the election results.
Democrats have since cried foul, warning the trio could be more interested in protecting former President Trump than getting to the bottom of what led to the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, last week traveled to New Jersey to meet with Mr. Trump.
The former president and his allies have waged a relentless war on the election results, insisting it was stolen, and opposing efforts to probe what happened at the Jan. 6 riot.
Democrats criticize Republicans for refusing to take a more public stand against Mr. Trump’s stolen election claims, which have been slapped down in the courts, while also giving rise to controversial partisan “audits” of election results.
Democrats say House Republicans have shown they are more worried about showing fealty to Mr. Trump than they are in slapping down the “big lie” that is undermining Democracy and led to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.
The House voted weeks ago to create the selection committee to investigate the attack, despite opposition from all but two House Republicans: Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
Ms. Pelosi named eight members to the committee earlier this month, including Ms. Cheney, who lost her position in GOP leadership earlier this year after she refused to tone down her criticism of former President Donald Trump and his stolen election claims.
Mr. McCarthy and GOP leaders have continued to question Ms. Pelosi’s motivation for establishing the committee. They argue that the scope of the investigation should extend to other political violence.
“Ultimately what should be the mission of this commission?” Mr. Scalise said. “Again, justice should be carried out and the focus should be on facts, not on politics,” Mr. Scalise said Tuesday. “It seems like Speaker Pelosi has been more interested in politics with this.”
“So that is very unfortunate,” he said.
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