Published on June 29, 2021
Republicans rightly worry that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) proposed select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot will descend into a partisan, anti-Donald Trump witch hunt. But the best way to minimize the chances of that happening is to participate in the investigation.
Pelosi’s committee will be firmly in Democratic control. She will appoint eight of the group’s 13 members. While she has stated that she is open to including a Republican among her eight appointments, that still leaves seven Democrats directly accountable to her to run the show. No one can doubt where that will lead. So why should Republicans participate at all?
They should do so for a number of reasons. First, and most important, participating in the commission will allow them to act as a defense counsel would at a criminal trial. The five Republican members can object to unreasonable questions at depositions, ask witnesses their own questions and make their own requests for lines of inquiry and witnesses. All of this would allow them to build an alternative case, if the facts permit, to a Democratic narrative. If Democrats refuse to let them pursue lines of inquiry, Republicans can rightly argue that the committee is more interested in partisan points-scoring than the truth.
Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.