GOP Turns on January 6 Commission
After being the only candidate to run against Rep. Elise Stefanik in a bid to replace Rep. Liz Cheney as the No. 3 House GOP leader, Rep. Chip Roy joins Sarah and Steve in this week’s episode. This wide-ranging interview touches on the January 6 commission, how Republican voters perceive the party, the Cheney ousting, and potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates. Below are excerpts from a rushed transcript of the interview, please check against the audio.
On the January 6 Commission:
Sarah Isgur: Chip, you voted against the January 6 commission. And we’ve gotten a lot of emails from listeners, I’ve gotten tweets, “Hey, ask your buddy Chip Roy why he voted against it.” I'm gonna leave it open ended, just explain yourself.
Rep. Roy: Explain myself, that's a good, good way to start. So look, we—you guys know my position is pretty well-publicized, well-documented about my concerns on January 6 and my statements on the floor—both in terms of objection as well as, kind of, what went down and talking about the aftermath. I do think we need to obviously get to the bottom of what occurred. And right now, what I would say is “Pause for a second.” There are a lot of things at play at the moment. A lot of people are concerned about, “Well, you got to have this bipartisan commission.” Okay, well, why, why that bipartisan commission? Why that structure, that structure was just given to me I, of course, had no say in it, and then I was given an up or down vote on it. I have concerns as a former prosecutor, saying that in this case, we ought to have four leaders, you know, Speaker, the minority leader and then McConnell and Schumer, picking two handpicked people each that would then have subpoena power. And then be able to have this kind of ongoing effort and what we all have to recognize, wherever you come from on this whole issue is a highly charged, highly politicized environment. This is not the same in terms of unity of national view of diving into things as it was for example in the 9/11 commission or maybe the Warren Commission, which by the way was also highly political, or ... the Commission for Pearl Harbor, I can't remember the name of it. But these are monumental momentous things in our history where you come and you have these bipartisan commissions, I'm not sure I would have supported those commissions. I believe we have plenty of oversight authority in the House of Representatives, plenty of oversight authority in the United States Senate. As Dick Shelby said the other day is, like, “Well, you know, we're in the process, we're about to release reports on stuff we've already been looking into in research.” And by the way we were all here, and we all saw a lot of what occurred. And, and so I think there's legitimate questions about the power that you're giving, you got Democrat run staffing of the of the entity that was to be created, and I think it will basically create the environment for a continued fishing expedition and it continued politicized effort to go down this road. And I'll just say this, when you go out into the district I represent, go out into the whole country, go out throughout the district Austin, San Antonio, talk to the people there who are upset because people may know, have been arrested, who have been, some are in jail. Some are being questioned about their presence at the Capitol at the time. For example, and one constituent who is a friend of a good friend of mine who was in fact, served with an arrest warrant, who presented video showing yes and he acknowledged in fact he crossed the barrier, but never went inside the Capitol, was never doing anything, has video of the whole time that he was in that particular moment, and had been, was telling people don't go into Capitol yet, that guy was arrested for crossing the barrier. Let's have oversight review these, let's understand the arrests, let's understand what's happening. And then we can go through and make determinations using our powers in the House of Representatives. It's just the way, the way I think we ought to go through it.
Isgur: Doesn’t it also have the side benefit, maybe for some, the primary benefit of protecting some Republican members of the House who have said that they were just tourists or Donald Trump himself who said he doesn't want this commission because presumably he would be part of the inquiry?
Rep. Roy: Well I think the inquiry is ongoing, right? The Senate is engaging in the inquiry, the House of Representatives can engage in inquiry, but yet I've not seen us—why have we not an Oversight, which I used to serve on I don't know on Judiciary, but in Judiciary, we could have hearings to about what's going on with the arrest what Department of Justice doing what research that what we're they're finding all their investigations to go, seek truth wherever it may lead—but why are we just following and using the powers we have in the House? And to your point, if the House wanted to do that, well, call witnesses, call the sergeant at arms right now. Next week call the sergeant of arms, have a hearing, in an Oversight hearing, do a closed door hearing, do an open door here, do one for the public to see, whichever. But go dive into it and go explore what evidence do you have? We have all the power in the House to do that. But you go set up this commission, you're now setting up a basically political process by which you could do this. Well, no you're not, this is bipartisan—look when you've got Democratic staff running it, and when you're actually in the process of doing this, empowering agencies in terms of what they're able to do—IRS and others—I think that's highly problematic. I would say that we should have our existing house members and Senate members continue to look into this.
On Leader McCarthy:
Steve Hayes: So, ending where we started. There were 35 Republican votes for the January 6 commission. Kevin McCarthy made very clear, I would say very late, made very clear that he opposed it as a potential witness, I think. Steve Scalise whipped against it and still 35 Republicans voted—Kevin McCarthy also stood up in February and talked about how important it was to have Liz Cheney in leadership and the importance of a variety of voices—and then just three months later changed his mind and said “Nah, not, not really.” Is he an effective leader, Kevin McCarthy?
Rep. Roy: I think that Leader McCarthy, and backing up for a second, remember that, I think I said this earlier, that one of my first acts as an elected member of Congress was to nominate Jim Jordan for leader in the fall of 2018. And if Kevin were sitting here in the room with us right now, virtually or literally, he knows that. And he knows who I am. And he knows I'm a giant pain in the butt to him and to others because I tend to speak my mind for better or worse, and try to lead the way I think we need to leave. … If I were advising Kevin, I would advise Kevin that right now, we need a crystal clear direction, and we need it right now. I think—I don't know whether we need a “Contract with America” or whatever—that's always cliche, right? That's now 27 years ago, I mean can we move on to a different idea? But, conceptually, we need a roadmap for where we want to carry the country forward. Okay, that's what we need from leadership. We don't just need to raise money, and we don't just need to take back the House beating Democrats. That's pretty easy to do in a midterm election when the current administration is crapping all over, most Americans. That's not going to get the job done, because then when we get into January of 2023, if we do have the majority, we're going to be expected to do something. … Don't go poll test something and then go throw it up against the wall and go “Okay, what do we need to do? Go bundle some money, go win this race, and then let's go figure out how to be in the majority.” Being in the majority is useless if you're not fighting.
On potential 2024 GOP Presidential nominees:
Rep. Roy: I always account for a wild card, right? There's a wild card we're not talking about yet that will probably materialize. … Obviously, there are others that people are going to be watching closely. Tim Scott brings a compelling story, and a compelling narrative. He was one of the more compelling people that I saw come to address us in Austin, and I like Tim Scott a lot. And then all the other folks bring a lot to the table. When you hear Marco Rubio talking about the extent to which it is corrosive to the soul as an American to being paying people not to work, when you're undermining the very nature of who we are as people to work and provide for our families, and then you're gutting the soul of somebody when you do that, and he says it in a way that better than I just did. It's compelling, it's compelling, Nikki Haley has compelling times and there's others, but I do think that you have to have to say, in my opinion, that, that I think Cruz and DeSantis are at the top of the list currently.