House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is standing by his decision to pull all of his selections for the Jan. 6 select committee after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) blocked Reps. Jim Banks (R-IN) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) from sitting on the panel last July.
Former President Donald Trump has both privately and publicly taken aim at the California Republican in recent days, voicing frustrations that his congressional allies are not able to defend him during the televised hearings on the investigation into the riot at the Capitol, and has made it clear that he has not yet endorsed him to be the next speaker.
“I think in retrospect, [McCarthy should’ve put Republicans on] to just have a voice. The Republicans don’t have a voice. They don’t even have anything to say,” Trump told Punchbowl News.
“I think it would’ve been far better to have Republicans [on the panel]. [Banks and Jordan] were great,” he continued. “They were great and would’ve been great to have them. But when Pelosi wrongfully didn’t allow them, we should’ve picked other people. We have a lot of good people in the Republican Party.”
McCarthy argued that tapping replacements for Banks and Jordan, two of Trump’s most vocal allies in the House, and allowing the three GOP members Pelosi greenlighted to serve on the panel wouldn’t have had an impact on the messaging coming out of the committee.
“Why would you do it — Pelosi is going to pick and choose. So the only Republicans that would be on it would be the ones that Pelosi would allow on — it would be no different outcome in this thing,” McCarthy told reporters Wednesday. “It’s showing us it’s a purely political process.”
Trump’s working relationship with the minority leader is expected to play a role in the level of support McCarthy garners from Trump-allied lawmakers as he looks to secure backing to obtain the speaker’s gavel if Republicans take back the majority next fall.
One GOP lawmaker close with the former president said Trump has “made known to his allies” that McCarthy “begged for” Trump to include language backing him for speaker in his recent statement endorsing him in his reelection bid.
While Trump has never endorsed McCarthy for the position, he has praised the California Republican in the past.
”Kevin and I work along very well together,” Trump told a group of reporters in January when asked if he planned to back McCarthy or would consider endorsing another member for the position.
Despite the recent turbulence between the leader and the former president, others have asserted that McCarthy remains the front-runner to become the next speaker.
“McCarthy is still the overwhelming favorite to be speaker. With an overwhelming midterm landslide favoring Republicans, McCarthy gets Trump’s endorsement and the gavel,” one senior GOP operative said.