House Republicans refine plan of attack against Democrats’ Jan.6 inquiry

“There is a fundamental question that I hope Democrats will answer and actually address and that is why was there no proper security presence that day?” said Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican who helped lead congressional efforts to try to overturn the election results. “And frankly, only the speaker can answer that question, so let’s see if Democrats talk about it.”

Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, responded to the GOP’s angle of attack by saying: “You know your strategy is desperate as even Ron Johnson has abandoned it,” a reference to the senator Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who went to great lengths to downplay and rewrite the events of January 6.

“On January 6, the Speaker, the target of an assassination attempt that day, was no more in charge of security on Capitol Hill than was Mitch McConnell,” Hammill said in a statement. “This is a clear attempt to whitewash what happened on January 6 and deflect the blame.”

While Pelosi has the power to veto choices and has not said what she will do, the newly appointed Republicans are expected to hold a strategy session this weekend or Monday to prepare for the first hearing of the committee next week with police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to multiple GOP sources.

And the GOP can lean heavily on Rep. Troy Nehls, a Republican from Texas and one of the committee picks of McCarthy who is a former sheriff and military officer, as they begin to craft their set of questions and try avoid being seen as disparaging or contemptuous. law enforcement.

Impeachment investigator involved in the preparation of the hearing

Democrats are also starting to make their own plans for next week’s hearing with police officers, some of whom should be concerned about efforts by some Republicans to rewrite the events of that day.

Privately, Democrats met in Pelosi’s office with a leading investigator who led the prosecution in Trump’s first impeachment, Daniel Goldman, to help prepare for the hearing, according to a person with knowledge of the case.

“We’re going to have to have a very serious parliamentary order on the committee,” said Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the senior Democratic impeachment official in Trump’s second impeachment and a panel member. “Obviously when we go around people are going to be able to say whatever they want to say in their five minutes. But we cannot tolerate constant disruption and derailment of committee goals.”

Privately, Democrats are now gearing up, with staff holding closed-door sessions and Zoom calls with key officers on Tuesday ahead of the hearing. Members say they spend considerable time reading previous testimony and interviews with their witnesses and others. They also say they spend time reading the indictments to familiarize themselves with more details about the alleged events that occurred on Capitol Hill on January 6.

“You read a lot,” Representative Peter Aguilar, a Democrat from California, told CNN of his preparation.

McCarthy chose a group of members he saw as emblematic of his conference, but which included three members who voted to reject election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania and two who voted to certify Biden’s victory. Pelosi told CNN on Tuesday that a vote to certify the election was “not a criterion” for serving on the panel, simply saying that she “considered” McCarthy’s “proposals.”

“They have a diverse caucus,” said Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat selected by Pelosi to sit on the panel. “And it’s a little hard to avoid the characters – given the diversity of the caucus.”

Hours after McCarthy made his choices public Monday night, Republicans made it clear how they viewed the panel.

“Make no mistake about it,” said Rep. Jim Banks, the Republican of Indiana whom the GOP leader chose as a rank member of the select committee. “Nancy Pelosi created this committee only to slander the conservatives and justify the authoritarian agenda of the left.”

Banks added, “I will not allow this committee to be turned into a forum to condemn millions of Americans for their political beliefs.”

While most Republicans applauded McCarthy for his selections, GOP Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois praised the selection of fellow Illinois Representative Rodney Davis, but not some of the others.

“Obviously Jim Jordan wouldn’t have been my choice, but hopefully as long as they do a mature job of getting to the bottom of it it will be fine,” said Kinzinger, who has become a chief critic of Trump. Asked about Jordan, Kinzinger added, “Well, I mean, I think he made it clear that he has a preconceived idea of ​​the outcome. And so if he’s going to go into this process, this process with an idea. preconceived of the result, well, that’s wrong. ”

How Capitol Police information on potential January 6 violence was not shared

Sources close to the preparation tell CNN that Republicans are ready to play defense in the coming weeks, but are also looking for opportunities to reduce what they see as the Democratic narrative that Trump has actively encouraged his supporters to challenge violently the results of the elections on January 6. and that he was solely responsible.

“We all know it’s just about going after Donald Trump,” Jordan said on Tuesday. “Democrats don’t want to talk about anything else. They have to talk about it. They don’t want to talk about the increasing crime in all major urban areas, they don’t want to talk about the crises on the border, they don’t want to talk about it. from the fact that the price of everything is going up. ”

On the role of Pelosi, an assistant familiar with the planning told CNN, “We don’t know what role she played. It’s fair to ask.”

“I don’t mean to imply that there was something wrong… but I think there were questions that needed to be answered.”

GOP lawmakers ready to talk to committee about interactions with Trump

Democratic and Republican lawmakers say they are now interviewing and hiring staff, with Democrats planning to appoint a personnel manager in the coming days. Thompson said they are considering three finalists for the job. Republicans, however, cannot proceed with hiring staff until Pelosi formally approves McCarthy’s selections for the inquiry.

Throughout the process, Democrats have sought to downplay their investigation as potentially setting off a political circus and many have said that remains the focus of the first hearing.

“My feeling is that I’m going to start by trusting these people to follow the facts until they prove me wrong,” Aguilar said.

Another key part of the GOP’s plan of attack will be to highlight political violence on the left, including protests last summer in response to police brutality. It was a point of contention during negotiations over a proposal for a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurgency, with Republicans demanding that any independent body include this area within its scope.

“Democrats in the summer of 2020 normalized anarchy, they normalized riots and looting,” Jordan said. “So I think that’s an important point that we will have to highlight.”

But where the investigation goes from here remains to be seen. Democrats have made no secret that they may seek to interview some of Trump’s supporters who have told him about efforts to overturn the election results. And that could include Jordan.

“If they call me I have nothing to hide,” Jordan said Tuesday, indicating he would be open to discuss his conversations.

GOP Senator Tommy Tuberville, the freshman from Alabama who answered a brief call from Trump during the insurgency, told CNN he would be prepared to speak with House investigators.

“I’m sure they will call me,” Tuberville said Tuesday. “It’s no secret,” he said of his call with Trump.

This story was updated with additional developments on Wednesday.

CNN’s Ryan Nobles, Morgan Rimmer, Whitney Wild and Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.

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