A war-of-words between top Democrat and Republican House lawmakers erupted Tuesday over whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had enough officers present during the Jan. 6 Joint Session of Congress.
“Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as Speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on January 6th,” said House Republican No. 3 Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) during a news conference as a select committee on the Jan. 6 incident started, which featured statements read aloud by House lawmakers and some Capitol Police officers.
The comment from Stefanik drew sharp pushback from Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), a member of the Democrat leadership in the House.
“We know that the person primarily responsible for the insurrection that occurred on Jan. 6 is the former, twice-impeached President of the United States Donald Trump, who incited that riot; urged people to march on the Capitol; [and] whipped them up by perpetrating the big lie—which by the way, he still hasn’t walked away from,” Jeffries told reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday.
Trump has categorically denied he was responsible for the Jan. 6 breach and during the impeachment, his lawyers pointed to his comments to protesters that they should demonstrate peacefully.
“The notion that Speaker Pelosi is concerned about what a few crackpots might have endeavored to contribute to the seriousness of the inquiry because she’s concerned about what it may reveal about herself is ludicrous, it makes no sense,” Jeffries added.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last week pulled his Republican picks to sit on the panel after Pelosi denied two—Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)—from joining. Two Republicans who impeached Trump were allowed to sit on the panel.
McCarthy on Tuesday suggested that Pelosi’s actions led to the breach.
“What you won’t hear from Pelosi’s sham committee: Why was the Capitol left so vulnerable that day? Why wasn’t the National Guard here? Why didn’t we have a better security posture? What changes are needed to make sure it never happens again?” he wrote in a tweet.
Meanwhile, four Capitol Police officers issued testimony on Tuesday in a hearing filled with emotion and histrionics. Several lawmakers cried during their testimonies.
“I feel like I went to hell and back to protect the people in this room,” said District of Columbia police officer Michael Fanone, referring to lawmakers. “The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” Fanone added, slamming his hand onto the witness table.
Reuters contributed to this report.