Rep. Liz Cheney, the top Republican on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, revealed on Thursday that Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks sent letters to federal agencies requesting information and identifying himself as the committee’s original ranking member.
The revelation came as the House debated whether to hold Steve Bannon, a former adviser to former President Donald Trump, in criminal contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena from the select committee. As vice chairwoman of the panel, Cheney managed debate for those arguing in favor of doing so, and Banks, who is not on the committee, managed debate for those arguing against.
After Banks’s opening statement, Cheney responded with a surprise.
“I would like to introduce into the record a number of letters to federal agencies dated Sept. 16, 2021, for example, signing his name as the ranking member of the committee he’s just informed the House he’s not on,” Cheney said.
One of the letters Cheney entered into the record, shared with the Washington Examiner, showed that Banks explained that he was not on the committee but identified himself as “ranking member” under his signature.
In a letter to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Banks said that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had originally appointed him a ranking member of the House select committee.
But rules of the committee allowed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to veto any minority party picks, and she blocked Banks and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan from being appointed. That prompted McCarthy to pull his other three picks from the committee.
“It was a shameful and divisive decision with real consequences. Today, because of that decision, there is no committee conducting a legitimate investigation into Jan. 6,” Banks said during his opening statement on the House floor on Thursday.
Cheney and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois are the only two Republicans to sit on the Jan. 6 select committee, having both been appointed by Pelosi, and have been largely shunned by the rest of the Republican conference.
McCarthy pledged at the time that Republicans would “run [their] own investigation” into Jan. 6. The letter from Banks, and requesting information that the committee received, could be a part of that effort.
“Pursuant to the rules of the House of Representatives, the minority party in Congress retains rights to the same information that is provided to the majority party. For those reasons, I ask that you provide me any information that is submitted to the Select Committee. Additionally, please include me on any update or briefing that you provide,” the letter from Banks to Haaland said.
Banks’s office responded to Cheney revealing the letter by suggesting that it is intended as a distraction.
“The letter clearly states that Rep. Banks was refused the opportunity to fulfill his duties as Ranking Member. This is a bizarre Democrat narrative meant to distract from the actual contents of Rep. Banks’ letter and to avoid talking about the actual activities of the Select Committee, which are partisan, authoritarian and indefensible,” a spokesperson for Banks said in a statement to the Washington Examiner.
“To reiterate, the letter requests the minority party receive access to information shared with the Select Committee. The question every member of the media should be asking: if this is a legitimate ‘above board’ investigation, then why is it being conducted in secret? Why do Liz Cheney and House Democrats think they’re the only ones who deserve to receive information from the executive branch?”
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, another member of the Jan. 6 committee, called Banks’s letter “fantasy” and “self-delusion.”
“He’s not a member of the committee. That’s straightforward fact,” Raskin told the Hill press pool.
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Original Author: Emily Brooks