DEMOCRATIC AND Republican negotiators agreed last week to create a high-level, expert commission with subpoena power to conduct an examination of the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion, one of the lowest moments in U.S. history. But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday threw his negotiators under the bus, condemning the compromise and vowing to oppose the bill creating the commission when it comes to a House vote Wednesday. This is cowardice, distilled.
Many Republicans do not want an impartial panel to remind the public of their party’s role in the event. A fair inquiry would examine how GOP lawmakers fed the election lies that inspired the mob, and how they built Jan. 6, which should have featured a pro forma counting of electoral votes, into a showdown over the 2020 presidential election. Republican lawmakers who signed a spurious lawsuit seeking to overturn the results bear some guilt; those who went on to object to the counting of electoral votes from several swing states bear even more.
An honest proceeding would also require Mr. McCarthy to testify under oath about his eyewitness experience of the violence — and to then-President Donald Trump’s apparent indifference. Mr. McCarthy has resisted offering the public a frank accounting of his interactions with Mr. Trump, including on a phone call during which Mr. McCarthy reportedly begged Mr. Trump to stop the mob. Mr. McCarthy has concluded that whatever political benefits he receives from embracing Mr. Trump are worth the price of his integrity.
If there are to be hearings, Mr. McCarthy argued, they should examine not only the Capitol invasion but other politically motivated violence, such as the riots surrounding the Black Lives Matter protests last summer. The point is to draw a false equivalence between a historically unique attack on the nation’s seat of government, in which Mr. Trump and other Republicans are directly implicated, and crimes that left-leaning activists committed — crimes that did not occur in the halls of Congress, that did not aim to interrupt the peaceful transition of power, that did not reflect a plot to overturn a presidential election.
The more Mr. McCarthy and other Republicans try to minimize the insurrection’s significance, the more they encourage the lies on which it was based; the more they instill the sense, widespread on the right, that the other side is at war with them, so they must fight back; and the more they invite the riot’s repetition — perhaps not in the now-locked-down Capitol, but maybe at statehouses, county commission offices, vote-counting locations or other civic institutions.
Mr. McCarthy knows Democrats will never endorse a panel designed to mislead the nation about Jan. 6, so his proposal for a broader mandate is a ruse: He simply does not want any investigation at all.
Sadly, McCarthy is apparently as morally bankrupt as Trump himself. He is despicable and the last thing the nation needs is for him to be Speaker of the House. Literally, a tawdry whore has a higher moral standard than McCarthy.