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Rep. Thompson explains why McCarthy should appoint Republicans to Jan. 6 committee

CNN's Jim Acosta talks to Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, about whether House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will appoint five Republicans to the group or boycott the investigation altogether.

Posted: Jul 7, 2021 9:24 AM
Updated: Jul 7, 2021 9:26 AM


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is finalizing a House GOP roster for a Democratic-led investigation into the deadly January 6 insurrection, canning the idea of a boycott on adding Republicans to the panel on the theory that it's better to join in and play an active defense.

Initially, there was an internal debate inside the House GOP about whether the California Republican should appoint members to the select committee or just skip it altogether as a way to paint the entire effort as partisan. But McCarthy indeed plans to place Republicans on the high-profile panel, CNN has learned, according to multiple GOP sources familiar with his intentions, and is in the process of making his selections. The thinking among Republicans is that the perch will enable them to shape a counternarrative to a probe that could ensnare not only Donald Trump, but also other members of their party.

And while McCarthy is almost certain to tap some trusted Trump allies for one of the five Republican spots on the committee, he is facing increased pressure to also pick some more pragmatic members for the job who can help bring credibility to their side of the debate. Some GOP sources even think it would be a smart political move for McCarthy to select at least one member who voted to certify the presidential election results in order to help inoculate against some of the criticism from Democrats.

That is especially true after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chose a Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, as one of her eight selections for the congressional probe -- a move designed to win bipartisan buy-in for their investigative work and sell a polarized public on their findings. Plus, the California Democrat has made clear that she has veto power over McCarthy's picks, though it's unclear under what circumstances she'd be willing to use it.

Who McCarthy ultimately taps for the select panel will set the tone for a partisan brawl that is almost certain to drag into 2022, which is why he wants to strike the right balance with his picks. And it could have far-reaching implications in the battle for the House, where Republicans have history and redistricting on their side but could be dogged by uncomfortable questions about Trump and the deadly Capitol riots in the run-up to the midterms.

"If you don't (appoint Republicans), the reality is, then there's only one news story," said Rep. Kelly Armstrong, a Republican from North Dakota. "I've never been a 'take your ball and go home' type of guy."

Yet the time line for McCarthy's decision remains unclear, though GOP sources think it could come soon. As Pelosi noted last week, the January 6 panel now has a quorum, so it can begin its work with or without McCarthy's picks, meaning there's little incentive for him to slow-walk his selections.

GOP contenders start to emerge

While some in the GOP would have preferred that their party not participate in the probe, others, including McCarthy, would rather have Republicans in a position where they can readily push back on Democrats in high-profile hearings and potentially even write a minority report in the end.

But McCarthy is likely to steer clear of choosing the most controversial firebrands in the party, such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia or Matt Gaetz of Florida, who would be harder for the Republican leader to control and could undermine the GOP's strategy.

Instead, McCarthy is likely to tap lawmakers whom he feels he can rely on or who have proven track records when it comes to defending Trump, including those who led the charge to overturn the election results in Congress.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a staunch Trump ally whom McCarthy has used as an attack dog in other high-profile assignments, is seen as an obvious choice inside the House GOP conference. But Jordan already has a full plate: He is the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, chairs a brand-new GOP task force and serves on the coronavirus select committee.

In a similar vein, there's now-House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik of New York, who was propelled to GOP stardom and became a fundraising powerhouse after furiously defending the-then President during the first impeachment; Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, a McCarthy ally and the ambitious chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee; and Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, a member of GOP leadership and a former constitutional law attorney who served as one of Trump's impeachment surrogates in 2019.

If McCarthy doesn't name Stefanik, he will face pressure to select another woman. Rep. Jackie Walorksi of Indiana, the ranking GOP member on the House Ethics Committee, who was interested in running for leadership earlier this year, is considered another contender for the assignment.

Some Republicans think McCarthy should choose Republicans who sit on the House Administration Committee, which oversees the Capitol's day-to-day operations, or have expertise in national security, law enforcement or legal matters. One GOP lawmaker said it should be someone who has a grasp on "security procedures" and "can give thoughtful context to the types of things that we need, as a physical feature of the city, but also a unit of government."

Other names that have been floated include Reps. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, a US Army Reserve member who sits on the House Intelligence Committee and was on the field during the GOP baseball shooting in 2017; John Rutherford of Florida, a former Jacksonville sheriff; and Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, a former professional mixed martial arts fighter who also sits on the intelligence panel.

McCarthy, however, may be inclined to appoint a lawmaker who voted to certify the 2020 presidential election results and therefore could have more sway with moderate pockets of the country. Potential members on that list include Armstrong, a former state party chairman, as well as Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, who co-chairs the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and supported an independent commission on January 6; and Tom McClintock of California, a veteran lawmaker who serves on the House Judiciary Committee.

But a major challenge for McCarthy is that many House Republicans, especially those in tough reelection races, want to avoid the politically fraught assignment at all costs. Fitzpatrick and Armstrong, however, both told CNN they would serve on the panel if asked -- even though they oppose the select committee.

Broader strategy takes shape

Other elements of the GOP's game plan are beginning to take shape. Republicans are already casting the investigation as a politically motivated probe that Democrats are just trying to use to damage Trump and the GOP ahead of the midterm elections -- similar to the playbook they deployed during Trump's first impeachment, when they relied heavily on process arguments.

Democrats, however, said they were given no choice but to establish a select committee after the Senate GOP blocked an independent commission that would have tasked outside experts with investigating the insurrection. And even under the select panel format, Democrats maintain they are motivated only by finding the truth and preventing another violent siege of the Capitol -- not going after their political opponents.

Republicans are also signaling that they want to focus on the steps that Pelosi took -- or didn't take -- to secure the Capitol that day. They also are expected to call attention to political violence on the left, including last summer's protests that broke out in response to police brutality.

GOP lawmakers will likely be looking to derail the Democrats' investigation at every turn. And that may mean defying subpoenas, which Democrats have said they could issue in order to force Trump or other Republicans to testify about the ex-President's mindset and conduct on the day of the riots.

"They should go wherever the facts lead. They may be able to get what they want and need without him testifying," House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union." "I would not want to see a former President testify in such a situation as this, but if that's what it takes in order to get to the bottom of this."

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Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820011

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148361924
Mobile726091339
Madison52337697
Shelby37622350
Baldwin37258552
Tuscaloosa35117612
Montgomery34116740
Lee23536246
Calhoun22232488
Morgan20952378
Etowah19834500
Marshall18372304
Houston17390412
St. Clair16064339
Cullman15454293
Limestone15349199
Elmore15264286
Lauderdale14314295
Talladega13842283
DeKalb12662261
Walker11206370
Blount10197176
Autauga10047148
Jackson9874184
Coffee9211191
Dale8900185
Colbert8871201
Tallapoosa7089198
Escambia6775134
Covington6713183
Chilton6645162
Russell637059
Franklin5962105
Chambers5610142
Marion5007127
Dallas4975200
Pike4796106
Clarke475784
Geneva4574127
Winston4519103
Lawrence4324117
Bibb425286
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331564
Randolph329764
Butler326496
Pickens316384
Henry312766
Hale311688
Cherokee302860
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224447
Conecuh186253
Coosa180240
Lowndes175364
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138840
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
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