Byron York's Daily Memo: What Jim Jordan would have said

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Welcome to Byron York's Daily Memo newsletter.

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WHAT JIM JORDAN WOULD HAVE SAID. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously banned Republican Rep. Jim Jordan from the new select committee to investigate the Capitol riot. So when the committee met for the first time on Tuesday, Jordan was nowhere to be seen. But it turned out he was still attending a meeting of a select committee — the select committee on the coronavirus crisis. Pelosi, who said Jordan's presence would diminish the "integrity" of the Capitol riot committee, apparently did not feel he would have the same effect on the COVID-19 committee, of which he is a member.

The hearing topic was "Oversight of Pandemic Evictions: Assessing Abuses By Corporate Landlords And Federal Efforts To Keep Americans In Their Homes." Jordan, like other Republicans, objected to the premise of the session. He said the government's COVID-19 eviction halt was too broad and too expensive. He said the committee should instead devote its investigation to the origins of the virus. Democrats in the majority, led by Chairman James Clyburn, stuck to their chosen topic.

But it was good to have an opposition viewpoint, someone who challenged the choices made by the committee's leadership. And that's what Jordan, and his fellow Republicans, did on the coronavirus committee. And that's what he was banned from doing on the Capitol riot committee. So on Tuesday night, when both hearings were over, I asked Jordan what he would have said had he been allowed to attend the Capitol riot hearing.

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Jordan noted that officers from the Capitol Police force testified at the session. "I would have said, 'You guys deserved to have more people there to help you that day,'" Jordan said. "That is the fundamental question — why wasn't there a proper security posture? I would have said, 'You deserve better. You protect us. You all deserved to have this place with the kind of support and reinforcements you needed to safeguard the Capitol.'"

"Everyone supports the police and the idea that they were put in a difficult situation," Jordan continued. "I talk to them and thank them every time I go by. They've got a tough job. Look at what happened to Billy Evans on Good Friday." That was a reference to Capitol Police officer William Evans, who was killed on April 2 when a mentally disturbed man who identified himself as a follower of black nationalist leader Louis Farrakhan rammed a car into Evans as Evans guarded the Capitol. A second Capitol Police officer was injured.

The Capitol riot committee hearing, which featured seven Democrats chosen by Pelosi and two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, also chosen by Pelosi, focused on the testimony of two Capitol Police officers and two officers from the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police. Their stories were emotional and harrowing at times. Each of the officers had been forced to engage in what was essentially hand-to-hand combat with rioters on Jan. 6. Some have still not recovered from the physical injuries they sustained that day, and all remain troubled by what took place.

One of the witnesses, Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, said law enforcement was not prepared for the aggressiveness and violence of some of the Capitol rioters. "We were expecting civil disobedience, as we do at the Capitol, at least that was what was relayed to us," Dunn testified. "A couple of arrests, name-calling, unfriendly people, but nowhere near the level of violence or even close to it that we experienced. ... We were not prepared for what we faced that day."

Committee members did not follow up on Dunn's statement. Did Dunn's colleagues at the witness table agree with him? How could such a lack of preparation have happened? The committee did not ask. But there is no doubt that Jordan, were he a member of the committee and present for the hearing, would have followed up.

And what would have been wrong with that? Democrats intended the hearing to be an exercise in messaging, in which they would push back at the rhetoric of former President Donald Trump and some of his supporters who have suggested the riot was a mostly peaceful affair. In fact, the riot had extended episodes of ugly violence, and the police officers who testified were in the middle of it.

So the committee listened to them recount their experiences that day. But why not ask them about more? What had they been told to expect going in? How did their preparations compare to preparations for other protests? Did anyone raise questions about the level of preparedness prior to the riot? What about afterward? What did their bosses tell them about what had happened? How did they explain the lack of preparation?

"There are two fundamental questions," Jordan told me. "One is, 'Why wasn't there a proper security posture there that day?' And two is, 'What have we done since then to make sure it doesn't happen again?'"

Democrats, along with Republicans Cheney and Kinzinger, will say there are more questions than that, and they want to ask them of Trump, along with the then-White House staff, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Jordan himself, who spoke on the phone regularly with the president, including on Jan. 6. That's fine. Democrats are the majority in the House, and they will do what they want. But it would have been useful to have a contrarian voice on the committee to raise questions that the majority did not. And that is precisely what Speaker Pelosi made sure would not happen.

For a deeper dive into many of the topics covered in the Daily Memo, please listen to my podcast, The Byron York Show — available on the Ricochet Audio Network and everywhere else podcasts can be found. You can use this link to subscribe.

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