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Pelosi Rejects Two GOP 1/6 Committee Picks; Former Trump Adviser Arrested, Currently In Jail. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired July 21, 2021 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Breaking news coming in right now, how Speaker Nancy Pelosi has released a statement rejecting the recommendations of Representatives Jim Banks and Jim Jordan to the January 6th Select Committee. She says in this -- she says in this statement that, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee. The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision.
She says she has concerns about the statements that they have made, as well as the actions that they have taken. And that leads her to do this. She has veto power over the folks who are on the Republican side here too. And what she's referring to in terms of their actions is this, that of the five people that were -- that McCarthy recommended, three of them voted to reject the election results. Two of them are Jim Banks and Jim Jordan. The third is Troy Nehls.
But the reason that Troy Nehls is likely part of saying on this Committee is because he has some subject matter expertise. He's a former sheriff. He has some law enforcement expertise that might justify him being on this Committee. But it is an extraordinary move by Pelosi to do this.
TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Yes. And this was already going to be a partisan food fight over this, which is wildly unfortunate, given that the American people could really use a shared set of facts about this very traumatic thing that happened on January 6th. That happened to our democracy that is continuing to happen.
But we knew that once there a bipartisan commission was turned down that this was going to be a fight. This indicates that Speaker Pelosi wants to have some control over this Committee. And one thing she said when she first announced the formation of this Committee that still stands out to me is she was asked what happens if they don't name any Republicans? Of course, now they have. She said, oh, we have quorum anyway.
KEITH: So they have enough Democrats. They have Congresswoman Cheney. They have a Committee that can move forward with an investigation, and she can have this fight on the sidelines.
PHILLIP: That's exactly right. We're going to bring in CNN's Manu Raju, who's on Capitol Hill with some new reporting. Manu?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is a -- it's unprecedented decision, Pelosi made that very clear herself. What is unusual here is because most of the time when there's a Select Committee, this is actually the practice of the Speaker ultimately gets the say on who the minority gets to pick. What is unprecedented is rejecting any appointments here. And the comments by the Speaker here make that very clear. She's rejecting two members, who Kevin McCarthy peg Jim Banks would be the ranking member of this Committee, and Jim Jordan who is a staunch Trump defender.
Now Troy Nehls who she says that she will allow to go forward also joined the other two Republicans voting to overturn the election. But he has clearly not been as outspoken as both Jordan and banks have been in the days since the January 6th. And particularly in the last several days, Jim Banks in the immediate aftermath of his selection, as the ranking member of the Committee put out a statement, essentially suggesting that this investigation was a way to push the Democratic agenda through and said that they need to look at everything here and including Jim Jordan suggesting that they need to investigate Nancy Pelosi herself and what she did or she did not do to secure the Capitol Complex.
That has been -- it's a suggestion has been rejected by Democrats who says that was simply an effort to muddy the waters to push an investigation towards Pelosi. So the question now will be what will Kevin McCarthy do with these two additional spots? Will we seek to fill them? Will he try to push back or we leave them vacant in any way? That's going to be a question for the Republican leader.
But ultimately, she will get the decision again, whether to green light anyone else who McCarthy gets to pick here but no question about it. This is going to spark some outrage from Republicans. But if Democrats say they're going forward no matter what, the first hearing is set for next week. And Republicans are still trying to push for what they believe should be investigated, which includes the Speaker's actions herself, but she's saying right here, the investigation is to focus on January 6th. And anyone who questions what happens here, will may not get a spot on the Committee.
PHILLIP: Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, we'll come back to you for sure, as we get more developments on this story. But let's bring it back to the table here. One of the things that Manu just referred to was that Jim Jordan, the kind of attack dog on this Committee already signaled where he is heading when it comes to whether Pelosi will be a subject of this investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): There's one fundamental question that I hope the actual -- the Democrats will actually answer and address and that is, why wasn't there a proper security presence that day? And frankly, only the speaker can answer that question. So let's see if the Democrats bring that up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: So where does that leave the Committee? I mean, is this just going to devolve into what some people feared would be a partisan exercise? Or will McCarthy try again?
EVA MCKEND, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, SPECTRUM NEWS: I mean, I think that response from Congressman Jordan is just why Speaker Pelosi rejected him. She said that she was principally concerned with the integrity of the investigation. Congressman Raskin, he said that he feared with Leader McCarthy selections that there was going to be constant disruption and derailment.
I think that this does move forward. It probably behooves McCarthy to select some other people and not leave those leave those slots vacant. But perhaps maybe this decision, not all that surprising, Speaker Pelosi flexing her power here.
PHILLIP: And she, of course, according to the text of the document that establishes this Committee has the power to select all 13. It's just in consultation with her that he can select five of those members. So I mean, McCarthy could just say we're walking away from the table.
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. Or he could say, I'm putting Marjorie Taylor Greene on this Committee, which --
TALEV: -- is a decision that he could have made before and didn't. So we have been watching this sort of unfold in slow motion for months, but especially weeks. And you remember, initially, this was not supposed to be a congressional committee, right? This is supposed to be a 9/11 style commission where Republicans said no. Then very openly, we heard this debate among Republican leadership about whether they should participate, should he put anyone, should he put total like barn burners or more on the Kinzinger, Cheney, Lane or somewhere in the middle, and he chose somewhere in the middle of slightly towards the, you know, the right end of that spectrum.
And so this is four weeks now been a calculation about messaging about how to discredit the premise of the investigation about what was, who were the best messengers to do that? What should their talking points be? And the conclusion was, turn it around and make it about Pelosi. And so lo and behold, the House Speaker is saying, like, I'm not playing that, and I have the power to veto this.
So that's where we are right now. Is it going to, does this increase the chances that this will become a partisan investigation? I mean, look, it already was -- already was going to if the other side is not interested in having the discussion which the Republican leadership is not and has made clear that they're not. So I think this is, like, I don't fundamentally know what has changed at the end of all this, except for that Pelosi determined that this was going to be a circus if they went forward with this many participants and decided, well, I don't want to be part of that.
MCKEND: The hearings haven't even started yet. And this has the potential to get very ugly if this is where we are. And the hearings haven't even started yet.
PHILLIP: We're getting in some White House reaction. Kaitlan Collins is in Ohio, where President Biden will be for a CNN Town Hall tonight. Kaitlan, what are you learning?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And this could be something that is on the agenda for the President to talk about tonight, because so far, Abby, he has not really weighed in on what he wants to see this panel look like. And instead, the White House has been incredibly deferential to House Speaker Pelosi on what members they believe should be on this panel.
We had asked before these names had surfaced from McCarthy's office earlier this week if the President believed a Republican could act in good faith on this Committee. And the White House said yes, they did believe that they could. But what they have not said is whether or not they believe someone like a Banks or a Jordan, these two members that Pelosi has now rejected as she just announced, could act in good faith given they are not only two members who voted to overturn the results of the election, several of the ones that -- of the names that you saw, I believe Banks and Jordan both signed on to that Texas lawsuit to invalidate the votes of millions of voters in several different states, not even in Texas.
And so that was really the question here is, are they going to be good faith members who are actually trying to investigate what happened on January the 6th. And you've already seen what Jim Jordan had said the other day when he was talking to Manu Raju, as he was going out to his car saying that he believed this panel was about going after former President Trump.
And so the question of whether President Biden thinks that this panel is ultimately going to be successful in its investigation, which he has said he believes should be an independent one, really remains to be seen. But so far, the White House is completely deferred to House Speaker Pelosi on her decisions on this. They were very careful not to weigh in on these names. And now of course, you've seen what House Speaker Pelosi herself has said about it.
PHILLIP: Yes, the White House has been touching this with a 10 foot pole proverbially from the very beginning. Kaitlan, we'll be back with you in just a little bit. But I mean, what do you make, Olivier, of the White House's strategy to just have a hands off view of this whole thing, which could in just a couple of days, as we've been discussing, basically become something of a circus.
OLIVIER KNOX, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: There's zero percentage for the White House to get involved, zero. They would gain nothing. It would turn into even more of a partisan, you know, blaze. So I think staying away from this probably makes a lot of sense.
This is after all, a House Select Committee, not a White House Select Committee that's been put together. So they're going to let it proceed. I'm intrigued. I want to see what happens with the next House Republican caucus is going to be really fascinating to cover. I want to see whether, you remember Kevin McCarthy made this decision after visiting Donald Trump at Bedminster. So let's see whether the former guy had something to say about it.
And I just want to do just one quick little parenthetical, which is that, in his statement, announcing his notional appointment, Congressman Banks said that one of the things that they should be investigating is the Biden administration response. So you get sort of, you get a flavor of sort of where they wanted where Banks and Jordan wanted to take this.
PHILLIP: The Biden administration response to January 6th, 2020.
KNOX: So there are two ways of looking at that, one is uncharitable. And the other one is that conservatives have been very, very upset about the Biden administration's look at right wing extremism.
KNOX: And some of the justification that the White House advances for that review, for that investigation is specifically January 6th. So I suspect that what the Congressman really meant was that response, not obviously, the response of a riot that predated their actual entering the power by two weeks.
PHILLIP: Right. It is fascinating to me, though, that of the three members, Republican members who voted against certifying the election, that she didn't just reject all of them. And we were discussing that Congressman Nehls does have that law enforcement experience. But Pelosi is drawing some kind of line here.
I mean, what do you think she's trying to say by saying, OK, one of these guys is fine, but these other two, you know, maybe the firebrands throwing, you know, throwing chum in the water, we can't have that on the Committee?
MCKEND: Well, they were the ones that came out the gate saying exactly what they were about and what they were going to make this about. And so she had to nip this in the bud right away and send a message, this is not what I want from this Select Committee. I want this to be a serious investigation. I think, though, that, you know, there are so many Republicans across the country that that don't believe that this is legitimate to begin with. And her rejecting folks, certainly doesn't help. But she is setting the tone early on about what she wants this to look like.
PHILLIP: And the former lead impeachment manager, Jamie Raskin has already made a point that this isn't going to be impeachment 2.0, this isn't going to be about one man, one person, whether it's Pelosi or Trump, it's going to be about the causes and the financing and the organization leading up to January 6th. So we'll have more on that as we go along.
But amid growing COVID cases of bipartisan infrastructure deal that could also be in trouble. President Biden is holding a CNN Town Hall in Cincinnati tonight. And CNN's Kaitlan Collins is back with us. She's traveling with the President today. Kaitlan, what are you anticipating on the rest of President Biden's agenda, which I suspect is what he will largely want to focus on tonight.
COLLINS: It is what he's going to want to focus on, Abby. But not just where he is, you know, now that he's right past that six month mark of his presidency and talk about what he feels like he's accomplished so far. He's also going to be looking ahead to what's to come because what we are told is that in the White House right now, they see the next few weeks as a really critical period for essentially what his first term is going to look like.
And a lot of that has to do with his domestic agenda when it comes to that bipartisan infrastructure deal that he negotiated with Democrats and Republicans alike and whether or not they can actually get that over the finish line as he's also trying to keep Democrats in line when it comes to that much larger reconciliation package. And so that's really going to be a critical test that's facing them over the next several weeks. They're aware of that.
And they know that when it comes to the legislative aspect of the agenda, that's what they're focusing on. But he's also dealing with something that he has been dealing with since day one of taking office. And of course, that is the pandemic. And now it's a much different challenge because it's not how to get people vaccinated and getting vaccines out. It's dealing with the Delta variant and it has he phrased it, his next phase of this response is getting the unvaccinated to get vaccinated, Abby.
PHILLIP: Well, we'll be watching tonight to see how he reacts to all of that and you can watch CNN exclusive town hall with President Joe Biden hosted by CNN's Don Lemon tonight, beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
And coming up next for us, another Trump loyalist is in trouble with the law, joining a long list of Trump associates facing legal scrutiny.
PHILLIP: More on our breaking news this hour House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has rejected two of the Republican recommendations for the January 6th House Select Committee. That's Congressman Jim Banks and Congressman Jim Jordan. Joining me now is Maggie Haberman of the New York Times. Now, Maggie, this is probably not a huge surprise to a lot of people. These are two, you know, sort of firebrand Republicans, both of whom voted against certifying the election. But for Republicans, this is likely to, you know, make it easier for them to double down on the argument that this is a Committee they shouldn't even play ball with.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's true, Abby, I think it is going to make it easier for them to make that argument. I think they were going to make some degree of that argument anyway. And I think that Pelosi after they attempted to do a bipartisan commission that didn't work. I think Pelosi candidly is taking something of a lesson from the two impeachment proceedings that they had in the House where you had Jim Jordan in particular, serving basically as participating in the proceedings.
But he was basically a defender of former President Trump. I think she's hoping to avoid that. So look, I mean, this is going to go I think the way it was always going to go. This move is absolutely going to inflame tensions on both sides. But it is -- it's not a surprise. And yet it is the kind of move that I think that some Democrats had hoped Pelosi would take previously in other settings, and I think we're going to be happy she's taking now.
PHILLIP: And Maggie, I also want to ask you about a former President Trump's longtime adviser, and one time friend, Tom Barrack, who was arrested yesterday on federal charges of failing to register as a foreign lobbyist, obstruction of justice, and lying to investigators, something that prosecutors said, strikes at the very heart of our democracy. So I mean, this is a very serious allegation that he faces.
A lot of Republicans, though, have said when other people in Trump orbits have been charged, frankly, with very similar crimes, that these are sort of procedural crimes that they were not registered, you know, to lobby on behalf of a foreign government. How do you see this charge? And how do you see it impacting former President Trump?
HABERMAN: So I think you're not going to see President -- former President Trump try to jump in to talk about his friend, Tom Barrack in the way we've seen him with other people, I think, in part because he is annoyed about the existence of these various probes. And I think in part because he has his own legal troubles.
But look, yes, there are a lot of defenders of former President Trump who have referred to crimes like lying to investigators, or even FERA violations, in some cases as process crimes. Another word for process crimes is crimes. And this is an indictment that Tom Barrack is facing into serious. We don't know where this is going to end up. He has said that, you know, he is or his lawyer has said he is going to plead not guilty. And I expect we will see that in the coming days.
But I think one question that's not answered for me, Abby, in all of this is investigators apparently believed he didn't tell the truth in his interview with them in 2019. That was two years ago.
PHILLIP: Yes. HABERMAN: So the question is what happened between when Bill Barr was in office and then Merrick Garland took over? Why was the case dormant? And why did it come back to life? And we still don't know a lot about that.
PHILLIP: And "The New York Times" has been reporting on various investigations around Tom Barrack and the Trump Inaugural Committee, and you all have reported that some of those investigations didn't really go anywhere, which speaks to your point just now. Why is this coming up now? I mean, where do you think this could be headed?
HABERMAN: Look, I think this is a separate investigation. This one came from the Mueller investigation. This one stemmed very clearly in 2018, from the special counsel's investigation into matters related to possible conspiracy between former President Trump's campaign and Russian officials. The Inaugural Committee investigations and there were multiples, including one in the Southern District of New York, which is across the river of Manhattan, a different office.
Those so far, according to my colleagues have not gone anywhere in terms of criminal processes. Now, we'll see if that changes, but it's been a very long time. And according to my colleagues reporting today, they have in their words, petered out. So we'll see if that changes. Sometimes these investigations just lay and then come back to life. But there's no sign of that right now.
PHILLIP: There's new leadership over to the Justice Department, which means that all of this could be, you know, stuff that we need to be looking out for in the future. Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, thanks for being with us, as always.
And we'll be right back with more on our breaking news that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejecting two members of the January 6th Committee who were appointed by Republicans.
PHILLIP: More breaking news this hour. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejecting two of the Republican recommendations for the January 6th House Select Committee, Congressman Jim Jordan and Jim Banks and our CNN congressional -- chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju is live over on Capitol Hill. He just spoke to Speaker Pelosi. Manu, what did she saying?
RAJU: Yes, I asked her if she had any concerns that all five Republicans may pull out of this investigation. She indicated she is not concerned. She said we have a bipartisan quorum and we can proceed, referring to the fact that she's have eight people, one of whom was Republican Liz Cheney. But the question will be, what does Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy do? Does he add two more Republicans to the seats that Nancy Pelosi rejected? Or does he pull out entirely? We don't have the answer to that yet.
She also would not explain exactly why she rejected those two, but now another one, Troy Nehls, who also voted to overturn the electoral results. She said that vote was not one of her criteria, Abby.
PHILLIP: And I know money you have to get to a news conference just in a couple of minutes. So we'll let you go but bringing it back to the table for just a moment. Congressman Nehls is a really interesting part of this whole dynamic. What is that all about?
KNOX: Well, it's really interesting. He actually helped Capitol Police barricade the House chamber to keep the rioters out on January 6th. He did a couple of video messages where he described the insurrection as criminal and unAmerican.
Now, hours later, he did vote with the majority of the House Republicans to overturn the results of the election. But certainly, and you can go back and find a lot of pretty dramatic photographs of Congressman Nehls in a blue shirt, helping the Capitol Police to keep the rioters out.
PHILLIP: Yes. And Pelosi not explaining explicitly what's going on there but saying, we can just move forward. We don't really have to even play this game.
KEITH: She has the numbers. She designed the Committee. They have quorum. They can just go.
PHILLIP: Yes. Well, thanks for joining us on Inside Politics with the breaking news today. Erica Hill is going to pick up our coverage right now.