Jul 21, 2021
Kevin McCarthy GOP Press Conference Transcript: January 6 Committee
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republican House members held a press conference on July 21, 2021 to discuss the January 6 Committee. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Leader McCarthy : (00:02)
Thank you for coming on short notice. Speaker Pelosi has taken the unprecedented step of denying the minority parties’ picks for the select committee on January 6th. This represents something that has not happened in the House before for a select committee by the historian. It’s an egregious abuse of power. Pelosi has broken this institution, denying the voice of members who have served in the military. Jim Banks, a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan, he serves on HASC, chair of the largest caucus of the Republican Conference, as a leader of a standing committee. Jim Jordan isn’t ranking of just his first committee, he’s done it before. Jim Jordan has served on a select committee and serves on one now. Made it undeniable this panel has lost all legitimacy and credibility, and it shows exactly what I warned back at the beginning of January, that Pelosi would play politics with this. For more than six months, you have a better example of the Senate, bipartisan. Schumer didn’t pick who went on as the Republicans, they already have the report done by two different committees.
Leader McCarthy : (01:36)
Two main questions, why was the Capitol so ill prepared for that day when they knew on December 14th they had a problem? And what have we done to make sure that never happens again? Pelosi has created a sham process. Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republicans, we will not participate. But we think it’s too important, that those two questions, why were we ill prepared? Why did they know on December 14th? Why would they jeopardize the lives of the Capitol police? We will run our own investigation. We have law enforcement. We have military. We have doctors. We have people from all walks of life. They want to know the answer and the American people deserve that. They don’t deserve politics. They don’t deserve destroying the institution. No committee in Congress will work if one person is picking all who can serve, this has not happened before.
Leader McCarthy : (02:52)
House Democrats must answer this question, why are you allowing a lame duck speaker to destroy this institution? This is the people’s House, not Pelosi’s House. We will do our job though. We asked to do our job. We want to do our job. I may object to the people that she put on the committee, but I respect her right to do it just as every leader has done before, destroy an institution for your own political gain, America expects more and deserves more. With that, I want to bring up Congressman Jim Banks, an individual who served his country in Afghanistan, who served in his state’s legislature, who serves in Congress. Is the chair of the largest caucus in the Republican Conference. Jim Banks.
Jim Banks: (04:02)
Thank you. I thank the Leader first and foremost for his trust that he placed in me as a leader of our party to put me in charge of this Republican effort. This just goes to show how partisan of an exercise we said this was all along, that Nancy Pelosi would take me and Jim Jordan first off of this committee and the rest of us as well by rejecting the first two of us. She knows that we were prepared to fight to get to the truth, to find the facts about what happened on that day to make sure that January 6th would never happen again, but she doesn’t want to go down that path. She knows that we’re already asking questions in just the first couple of days, that Leader McCarthy appointed us to this task, questions that Democrats have never asked about why the Capitol was vulnerable on that day when we had intelligence for weeks leading up to January 6th, that told us that something dangerous would happen on January 6th.
Jim Banks: (04:57)
She knew we would fight back against their political games, and that’s why she didn’t want us to participate in this committee. It just goes to show, this is entirely a political exercise on her part. It’s a shame. The American people deserve better. They demand answers about January 6th because the American people demand that their leader step up to make sure that never happens again. But we all know that this is an exercise in politics, it’s not an exercise in finding the facts and that’s what’s unfortunate about the Speaker’s move. It just goes to show… It begs the question that all of us should be asking, what is the speaker afraid of? I’ll leave you with that. Jim Jordan.
Jim Jordan: (05:37)
Thank you, Jim. The leader and Jim are exactly right, this has always been about politics, and today’s actions of the Speaker just confirm that. But frankly, and I’ve said this before, what else are they going to talk about? I mean, they’ve been so focused on the January 6th Committee, what else are they going to… Are they going to talk about crime, the fact that crime is up in every major urban area in this country? Are they going to talk about the border crisis? I mean, think about this, March was the highest month on record for illegal crossings until April, April was the highest month on record until May, May was the highest month on record until June, they can’t talk about that. Are they going to talk about inflation? Are they going to talk about the fact that the price of eggs is up, the price of milk is up, the price of bread is up, the price of gas is up, the price of the an airline ticket is up, the price of a used… The price of everything is up.
Jim Jordan: (06:19)
They can’t talk about that, so they’re going to be partisan and they’re going to focus on this. But as the Leader said, and as Mr. Banks said, I don’t think they’re going to address the fundamental question. The fundamental question of, why wasn’t there a proper security presence at the Capitol that day? They’re not going to address that. And only one person can answer that question, only one, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. My hunch is, my hunch is, the reason they don’t want to address that question, my hunch is, is because what happened all last year? The Democrats normalized anarchy, they normalized riding and looting. And when rioters and looters attacked our law enforcement personnel, when rioters and looters destroyed small businesses, what did Democrats do? They went out and raised money to bail them out of jail, and they continue to talk about defunding the police. And in fact did that in all these major urban areas, which is why crime is up.
Jim Jordan: (07:16)
So they don’t want to talk about that stuff, they just want to be partisan. They just want to continue to attack the former president. They want to play their political games. So I applaud Leader McCarthy for saying we’re going to do our job… We’re going to continue to work and get to the bottom and answer the questions that the Leader raised, the questions that, frankly, the American people want answers to. With that I [inaudible 00:07:37].
Rodney Davis: (07:42)
On the evening of January 6th when we reconvened to take the certification of the election results from our States, I actually spoke with Speaker Pelosi on the dais, and she brought up a bipartisan, bicameral commission to me at that point in time. I introduced a bill to create a bipartisan, bicameral commission. We had some questions about how this would be implemented and Speaker Pelosi decided instead to put forth her own select committee that we now know is a completely partisan process. It’s very disappointing because I think all of us were looking forward to our first hearing next week to be able to getting answers to some of the questions that were raised by Leader McCarthy, by ranking member Banks and by Jim Jordan. But we’re not going to get those answers in even a partisan manner on this committee because she chose to take the unprecedented step to try and veto our own members.
Rodney Davis: (08:41)
We are going to continue to ask questions, and frankly, there are many unanswered questions about why this Capitol was so unprepared. And the key question, as Leader McCarthy said, is, are we in a better position now, security wise? There are many issues that we saw in Capitol police IG reports and others that laid out reasons why our officers didn’t have the equipment, they didn’t have the training and they didn’t have the preparation and the backup to adequately address what happened on January 6th. Why? And what have we done? What has the speaker done? And more importantly, what has she asked the Capitol police board that is made up of her own appointee? What have they done to put this Capitol complex in a situation to address another security issue? Those questions would have been asked. Those questions will still be asked regardless of whether or not she continues to play politics.
Rodney Davis: (09:37)
And I’ll end with this by saying, I’ve seen and witnessed political violence personally out on a baseball field in Virginia just a few short years ago. I’ve seen what well-trained Capitol police officers like David Bailey and Crystal Griner were able to do to run toward gunfire as we ran away from it. And it’s disappointing to see that our Capitol police officers, who I witness that bravery that day are still not put in a position to be able to make sure that another type of January 6th would not happen again. She needs to answer questions. We were hoping to get those answers, but unfortunately, we’re not going to. I’d like to introduce Kelly Armstrong.
Kelly Armstrong: (10:19)
Thanks, Rodney. I agree with everything that’s been said. I’ve served for two years with Jim Jordan on oversight and judiciary. We’ve been through a lot of tough hearings together, a lot of hearings that were going to be similar to this, and we know how to do this, we have credibility with the American people. And to strike Jim Banks and Jim Jordan from this committee is just unacceptable.
Kelly Armstrong: (10:39)
And I think it’s important to recognize that every time Speaker Pelosi uses the word unprecedented, it happens to consolidate absolute power in the Speaker’s office. It was unprecedented build a glass cage in order to make sure she got the gavel. It was unprecedented to put metal detectors on the floor of the House. It’s unprecedented to have a proxy voting. And it sure unprecedented for the Majority Leader to strike minority members for a committee.
Kelly Armstrong: (11:03)
I don’t think this committee is about the last election. I don’t even think it’s about the next election. It’s about the Speaker’s office maintaining an absolute iron grip on her conference and the people’s House for the next 18 months. And I’m concerned that after 200 years of precedent we are completely altering how things are done in the people’s House, but you know what else? I’d be concerned if I was a majority member right now, because the [inaudible 00:11:26] in their policies are going to help us take back the majority in two years, and these things never go back to the way they were once they started. So we need to be calling out what’s going on. Every member of the US House of Representatives is elected by their district and they have a right to serve, and the minority has a right to put the people on the committees they want, and we shouldn’t be changing those for this committee or any other committee. And with that, I’ll turn it over to Sheriff Nehls.
Sheriff Nehls: (11:52)
When I was chosen by Leader McCarthy to serve on this select committee, I assured him, I told him, I said, “I will take the 30 years of law enforcement experience I have, the eight years as sheriff to uncover, find out exactly what took place on January 6th. To find the truth as to why this Capitol was so unprepared.” I spent countless hours. I brought this binder up. I’ve examined the Senate report, examining, talking, looking at witness statements, looking at the Capitol Hill’s policies and procedures. And I was alarmed, truly alarmed at what I uncovered. I was certainly prepared to help this committee get to the truth, I wanted to get to the truth. But unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi has shown that she’s more interested in playing politics. I stand with Leader McCarthy and the other colleagues on this committee. I assured the Leader that I will continue to play a role and do everything I can to make sure that what took place on January 6th can never ever happen again in this great country of ours. I made that commitment. I will remain strong in that commitment to the Leader. Thank you.
Leader McCarthy : (13:14)
Speaker 7: (13:15)
Mr. Leader, you’re complaining that you don’t have a bipartisan opportunity here to investigate January 6th, but you stood in the way of a bipartisan commission that would be made up of independent members, an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, your conference voted against that, at least a majority of your conference voted against that and it was blocked in the Senate. Why did you not allow that to go forward if what you say you want is a bipartisan investigation to what happened on January 6th?
Leader McCarthy : (13:43)
For the same politics Pelosi played then, at the same time when she used the scope of that. Remember how long it took, on January 13th, Rodney Davis and myself, both requested a 9/11 commission, even those who ran the 9/11 commission criticized Nancy Pelosi for what you wanted to do. We had Officer Evans killed on Good Friday, she said you couldn’t look at that. If you studied the 9/11 Commission, they didn’t study what happened on September 11th, they studied what built up to it, but she said, “No, you could not do that.”
Leader McCarthy : (14:18)
Why would she make a scope that you couldn’t get the answers to? Why would an officer’s life not matter? That’s why people objected. People asked for it before, she played six months with this. While she played her games and continued to do so, the Senate acted, two committees. The report is done. The FBI has arrested more than 500 people. The architect of the Capitol has $10 million. And what does she do today? Continue the sham she’s done all along. Never, never in the history of this institution for a select committee, and she admitted it to me when she called, have they ever done something like this.
Leader McCarthy : (15:05)
Think for one moment, Jim Banks is a Naval officer, he defended his nation, served in Afghanistan, elected by his peers to the largest conference in the committee. But she wants to say, predetermined that he can’t serve, that Pelosi can pick and choose. Jim Jordan, is she afraid of a question from Jim? Is she afraid what he might ask or fight for? He’s a ranking member, not his first committee, but his second. Why would she be afraid? Does she set the committee itself to be one sided? Yes. More so than any select committee before? Yeah, she did. We warned you from that moment in time she was playing politics, today just showed the American people exactly what everybody was warning. It’s the American people who lose in this, but we’re not going to allow that to happen.
Speaker 7: (16:06)
But what would you say-
Leader McCarthy : (16:07)
We’re going to get to the answer of the question, why were we ill prepared? Why if they knew why December 14th? Why if they found IEDs earlier in the morning? Why were not the National Guard here at the Capitol, but they were running street signs down in the city? Who made that judgment? Yes, sir.
Speaker 8: (16:28)
Leader McCarthy, you said in your statement that Republicans will, Instead pursue our own investigation of the facts,” What does that look like, first off? And secondly, is this your final move, pulling your appointees or is there a chance to reverse this?
Leader McCarthy : (16:42)
The only way to reverse is seat these five, that’s the only thing. But I will add to this, to be able to look at the challenge of what happened and answer those two questions, why were we ill prepared and made sure it never happens again.
Speaker 8: (16:59)
But in terms of an actual body, what is that investigation?
Speaker 9: (17:02)
In addition to those questions, do you intend to look at why this happened? Not the security failure, but why there was an attack on the Capitol and what led up to it?
Leader McCarthy : (17:09)
We’ll answer all the questions.
Speaker 10: (17:10)
Mr. Leader, I want to know more specifically, what do you say to these families and to these officers, including officers that you’ve met with about this? And more specifically, many of them they’re just frustrated, they see this as politics, but at the end of the day you-
Leader McCarthy : (17:25)
It’s true, it is politics by Pelosi.
Speaker 10: (17:26)
… and the Speaker are pointing fingers at each other, so how does that help them if you guys are just pointing fingers at each other?
Leader McCarthy : (17:31)
What helps them is we will go forward just as I promised them, and we’ll get the answer to those questions.
Speaker 11: (17:34)
Speaker 12: (17:34)
Leader McCarthy : (17:35)
The ones that should have been protected, just as we’ll talk about Officer Evans too, who died on Good Friday.
Speaker 10: (17:39)
Leader McCarthy : (17:40)
We’ll go through and get the answers to those. Yes, sir.
Speaker 13: (17:43)
Mr. Leader, on May 20th in this room, I think you told us that you were prepared to about your conversation with President Trump on the afternoon of January 6th. Do you still stand by that? Are you still prepared to testify about your conversation?
Leader McCarthy : (17:57)
My phone call is out there. The question is you make a phone call after people are in the Capitol to advise the President of what’s going on, it doesn’t get to the answer of why were we ill prepared? That’s really playing politics, and it really shows that that’s the issue that they want to go to and where they want to drive, we want to get all the answers.
Speaker 14: (18:15)
[crosstalk 00:18:15]. Mr. Leader.
Speaker 15: (18:15)
Your own ranking member, John Katko said the scope of the bipartisan independent January 6th commission that he crafted had the ability to have a wider scope outside of January 6th-
Leader McCarthy : (18:29)
Unfortunately, Democrats and Pelosi said no to that.
Speaker 15: (18:33)
… and you and Republican leaders still opposed it. The question is, what would you need to have it in it? You oppose any kind of commission, what would it take for you to sign onto something similar to that?
Leader McCarthy : (18:49)
It’s very easy, exactly what was said on the 13th of January. But Pelosi played politics, make it just like the 9/11. Let us discover what built up to it. Why was that decision made the National Guard were not here when on December 14th [crosstalk 00:19:03]-
Speaker 15: (19:02)
But that’s what Katko said, he said it was similar to [inaudible 00:19:04].
Leader McCarthy : (19:03)
Okay, let me answer the question. So on December 14th they became aware that there was a problem. They made a decision to have National Guard without weapons down on the streets to do traffic, but not in the Capitol. They found IUDs earlier in the morning. We had an officer killed beyond that day on Good Friday, but Pelosi would only let us with a scope this far, I don’t believe it allowed to go further and I think we need to… Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 16: (19:33)
Mr. Leader, Speaker Pelosi didn’t actually enumerate her objections when she sent in her official notice about rejecting your members, but-
Leader McCarthy : (19:42)
Speaker 16: (19:42)
That’s what I was going to say, what did she tell you? Democrats have told us that among their objections, and I’d like you to respond to this, are that Republican members recently were photographed with someone who was here and broke into the Capitol on January 6th. And also they complained-
Leader McCarthy : (19:53)
No, she never said nothing about that.
Speaker 16: (19:54)
Okay, well, this is something that we’re being told is an issue.
Leader McCarthy : (19:57)
She said her members didn’t want her to put these people on.
Speaker 16: (19:59)
Okay, could you speak to that idea though, that members, including Mr. Jordan participated in-
Leader McCarthy : (20:04)
I don’t know what you’re [crosstalk 00:20:05] I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Speaker 16: (20:05)
Okay. And then the idea that some of your words about needing an investigation of last summer’s protests and riots, as you say, the Democrats object to that, yeah.
Leader McCarthy : (20:14)
No, let me be clear. They shouldn’t object to that. If they want a 9/11 commission, the 9/11 commission looked at September 11th, but they look what’s built up and caused 9/11. Should we not look at what buildup and caused this? Should we not question why the National Guard was not allowed onto the Capitol? Should we not question, why the Capitol police were not fully trained? You’re putting their lives in danger. Why were the riot gear stuck and locked in a bus down the street? We need these answers for these officers. We need to not ever put them in this place again. Yes, sir.
Speaker 17: (20:52)
Speaker 18: (20:52)
Yes, sir. Will the Republican committee look at President Trump’s actions leading up to and on January 6th?
Leader McCarthy : (21:00)
We’ll look at anything that built up of what caused this place to not be protected, and we’ll look to make sure that it never happens again. Yes, sir. At you.
Speaker 19: (21:10)
[inaudible 00:21:10], sorry it’s my first presser. You mentioned Mr. Banks and Mr. Jordan not being allowed on, but at the same time, given that Mr. Jordan is a ranking member and Mr. Banks also is a leader of a large caucus, Representative Davis is also a ranking member and Speaker Pelosi didn’t object to it. And then Representative Nehls also voted to object, along with Representative Banks and Representative Jordan, why do you think there was a difference between objecting to Representative Banks and Representative Jordan, as opposed to a Representative Davis and Representative Nehls?
Leader McCarthy : (21:51)
I don’t know, but she named a chairman to object to the presidential, and she has Raskin who objected and asked for impeachment too, so I don’t know if the objection matters because her members have objected before.
Speaker 20: (22:01)
Leader McCarthy : (22:01)
Speaker 21: (22:01)
Leader McCarthy, the locked bus with the gear on it, that’s a finding from-
Leader McCarthy : (22:06)
Speaker 21: (22:06)
… the Senate report. I mean, that’s exactly what they investigated. What do you want to find out, who locked the bus?
Leader McCarthy : (22:12)
Why was it there? Why didn’t they have the gear on? Why didn’t they have a better position?
Speaker 21: (22:16)
Isn’t the answer that they were just incompetent. I mean, what more do you need to know about that?
Leader McCarthy : (22:20)
Well if that’s incompetent, then what’s the solution? We want to find solutions. This is why, when you look at Sheriff Troy Nehls, 30 years of law enforcement. First, what did he do that day? He’d been a member for three days. He’s inside the chambers. People are breaking in. First, he joins other members and they barricade the door. People are breaking the glass, officers have their weapons drawn to protect from people coming in. A member for only three days, we didn’t call him Congressman that day, we called him sheriff.
Leader McCarthy : (22:55)
You may have watched the photos. He looks through the glass, he doesn’t have a weapon, but he calms the situation. He talks to those who are on the other side, that’s a leader. He sat through the entire Senate report, he’s laid out every chronological order of what has taken place. He used his own experience of being a sheriff from eight years, preparing for situations just as what he was drawn in, and he has even more questions. That’s why he wanted to serve. That’s why we put him on. This is a microcosm of our conference, we have a right to name, but this is what Nancy Pelosi is denying. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 22: (23:40)
When you initially laid out your reasoning coming out against the bipartisan commission, you had kind of raise concerns about any additional investigations here-
Leader McCarthy : (23:48)
Scope. No, it was the scope.
Speaker 22: (23:49)
… interfering with other federal investigations that are ongoing [crosstalk 00:23:53]. How does this committee differ from-
Leader McCarthy : (23:53)
Now you’re getting individuals that are… Decisions being made whether they’re serving time or not, you do not want to interfere with that, so the language matters. But from the very beginning, remember, I asked for a commission back in January, just like 9/11, Pelosi played games all along the way. She’d deal with the scope, and it was very clear of what we laid out, equal number, equal subpoena power, equal scope, and don’t interfere with any law enforcements going forward. She could not agree to that. And we watched today, even when the sides were separated, even when the power went to one, she went further than anyone’s gone before. I think it’s very clear to the American public, this is a sham, but we will make sure we get to the real answers. Thank you very much.
Speaker 23: (24:44)
Leader McCarthy, did Congresswoman Cheney step down from the committee?