By Ashok Nilakantan
New York, Jun 23 (IANS): In a surprise twist, House (of Representatives) Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has pulled out all the Republicans sitting on the select committee probing the January 6 Capitol Hill hearings, protesting Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to unseat party members Jim Banks and Jim Jordano.
An angry ex-President Donald Trump, who has privately and publicly targeted the Californian lawmaker in recent times, let out his frustrations that his congressional allies are not able to defend him (Trump) during the televised hearings in the ongoing probe into the Capitol Hill riots that endangered the life of his VP Mike Pence.
Trump, in an apparent knee-jerk reaction, has made it clear that he has not yet endorsed McCarthy to be the next Speaker.
"I think in retrospect, (McCarthy should've put Republicans on) to just have a voice. The Republicans don't have a voice. They don't even have anything to say," Trump told Punchbowl News.
McCarthy, representing California, stood his ground to pull all of his selections for the January 6 select committee after Pelosi blocked Banks (Indiana) and Jim Jordan (Ohio) from sitting on the panel.
"I think it would've been far better to have Republicans (on the panel). (Banks and Jordan) were great," Trump said in reports streaming from Washington from various media sources. "They were great and would've been great to have them. But when Pelosi wrongfully didn't allow them, we should've picked other people. We have a lot of good people in the Republican Party," he was quoted as saying by Washington Examiner which is closely following the hearings probing the January 6 incident.
Justifying his stand for the pull out, McCarthy argued that finding replacements for Banks and Jordan, two of Trump's most vocal allies in the House, and allowing the three GOP (Republicans) members Pelosi greenlighted to serve on the panel wouldn't have had an impact on the messaging coming out of the committee.
"Why would you do it — Pelosi is going to pick and choose. So, the only Republicans that would be on it would be the ones that Pelosi would allow on — it would be no different outcome in this thing," McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday. "It's showing us it's a purely political process."
Trump's working relationship with the minority leader is expected to play a role in the level of support McCarthy garners from Trump-allied lawmakers as he looks to secure backing to obtain the Speaker's gavel if Republicans take back the majority next fall, the Examiner said.
One GOP lawmaker close to the former President said Trump has "made known to his allies" that McCarthy "begged for" Trump to include language backing him for Speaker in his recent statement endorsing him in his re-election bid.
While Trump has never endorsed McCarthy for the position, he has praised the California Republican in the past. "Kevin and I work very well together," Trump told a group of reporters in January when asked if he planned to back McCarthy or would consider endorsing another member for the position.
Despite the recent turbulence between the leader and the former President, others have asserted that McCarthy remains the front-runner to become the next Speaker, should the republicans take back the house from the Democrats. "McCarthy is still the overwhelming favourite to be Speaker. With an overwhelming midterm landslide favouring Republicans, McCarthy gets Trump's endorsement and the gavel," one senior GOP operative said.