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Analysis: The massive miscalculation Republicans made on the 1/6 committee

First, in May, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to come out forcefully against an independent commission to study the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol, despite the fact that its creation had been part of a bipartisan deal in the House — and 35 House Republicans had voted for it.
Second, in July, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy decided to pull all Republican members he had nominated for the House committee investigating January 6, following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s rejection of the presence of GOP Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana on the panel. (Two Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — are on the panel but were put there by Pelosi.)
Both moves were motivated by the same belief: That by opposing an independent commission and by refusing to keep any of their choices on the House committee, Republicans would successfully short-circuit the effectiveness and impact of the investigation before it got started. The idea being that without Republican participation the whole thing would look like a partisan witch hunt, with little practical damage, politically speaking, to the GOP.

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“Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts,” McCarthy said at the time.
With each passing week. however, those twin decisions look worse and worse for Republicans. Consider what we’ve learned about the January 6 committee’s work in just the last few months:
1. Marc Short, former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, recently testified before the committee, CNN exclusively reported.
2. Former President Donald Trump lost his attempt to keep more than 700 White House documents pertaining to January 6 from the committee. The committee now has all of those documents.
3. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who refused a subpoena by the committee, was charged with criminal contempt by the Justice Department.
What these series of developments mean is that the committee has already made more headway than Republican leaders believed they would when they made the decision to walk away from the panel.
And what’s worse for GOP leaders is that they have little visibility into the inner workings of the committee. (While both Cheney and Kinzinger are Republicans, they have been largely ostracized from their party because of their willingness to speak out against Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021. That means they have little incentive to keep their fellow Republicans apprised of the goings-on inside the committee.)
The more people — especially those at a senior level like Short — who cooperate with the committee, the more difficult it will be Republicans to dismiss the findings of the report. This won’t be about what some Democratic members say happened on January 6 and what role (if any) Trump played in it. Instead, it will be Republicans at highest levels of the Trump administration telling the story of that day. That’s far more politically problematic for Republicans in Congress.
Notably, McConnell has also struck a different tone on the House committee recently. In a December TV interview, McConnell said the committee is seeking to uncover “something the public needs to know.”
Put simply: Republican leaders made a big bet that they could paint the committee as nothing more than a group of disgruntled Democrats using what happened on January 6 to further their own partisan agenda. That bet looks like a loser as of today, with the committee seemingly poised to deliver a far more definitive — and impactful — review of that fateful day than many expected.
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