Pelosi’s Court: How the Jan. 6 Committee Undermined its Own Legitimacy

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Choo Choo

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“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”  Psalms 95:6 (KJV) 

In 1924, Lord Gordon Hewart famously declared, “Justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.” The lord chief justice of England, he believed that even a small allegation of possible bias by a court clerk meant justice was not seen to be done and, thus, was not done.

Lord Hewart’s quote came to mind while watching the opening night of the House’s Jan. 6 select committee public hearings. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decided a year ago to break from tradition and blocked two Republican committee members selected by GOP leaders. In response, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pulled his other committee nominees, and Pelosi then seated two staunchly anti-Trump Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyoming) and Adam Kinzinger (Illinois).

Congress has a long history of bipartisan investigatory and select committees. Many were formed during deep political rifts — yet, for 230 years, Congress maintained the need for bipartisan membership. That was the case with the Watergate committees, the House Committee on Assassinations, the Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions and other investigations. It would have been easy to stack the decks and limit the members by party on each of those committees, but past congressional leaders understood that the credibility of such investigations required balance, including opposing views.

Pelosi’s decision to gut that process was something of a signature muscle play. As a witness in the first Trump impeachment, I was highly critical of her insistence that the House would impeach before Christmas rather than conduct the traditional impeachment investigation with witnesses. Instead of building a more convincing case, Pelosi preferred to impeach with virtually no record, for a certain defeat in the Senate. In the second impeachment, she went one better: She held no hearing at all and pushed through the first “snap impeachment.”

The Jan. 6 committee was similarly stripped of any pretense. It was as subtle a political move as Pelosi’s ripping up President Trump’s State of the Union speech. Asked what she hoped to achieve from the committee on the first day of hearings, Pelosi tellingly referred to it as a “narrative.” It is the difference between seeing and simulating justice.

According to The New York Times, that narrative is meant to “recast the midterm message” and “give [Democrats] a platform for making a broader case about why they deserve to stay in power.” It was packaged with the help of a high-powered media figure brought in to help stage the event. Much of the media touted how the hearings would be “must-see TV” and would force voters “not to look away” from Trump’s “coup.” Countervailing evidence was edited out. Thus, Trump was shown calling for the protesters to “march” on the Capitol — but not his additional words to do so “peacefully.”

That withheld line from Trump would hardly have exonerated the former president. I publicly con…

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