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House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens to strip members of committee assignments if they join the January 6 investigation, reports say

Business Insider logo Business Insider 7/1/2021 insider@insider.com (Jake Lahut)
Kevin McCarthy wearing a suit and tie: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. Win McNamee/Getty Images © Win McNamee/Getty Images House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy issued a threat to his members on Wednesday, according to reports.
  • McCarthy targeted anyone who signs onto the Democrats' special committee on the January 6 riot.
  • During his Thursday press conference, however, McCarthy denied he was threatening anyone.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened his Republican members in a closed door meeting on Wednesday, according to Punchbowl News and CNN.

If any House Republicans join Speaker Nancy Pelosi's select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, "they better be ready to get all their committee assignments from her," according to Punchbowl's Thursday morning newsletter.

CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel also reported that McCarthy threatened to strip them of their committee assignments if they accept an offer to join.

The lone Republican on the January 6 committee will be Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday.

At his weekly press conference on Thursday, McCarthy questioned Cheney's loyalty to the party and claimed he is not threatening anyone's committee assignments.

"I was shocked that she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi," McCarthy said, adding he found the move "unprecedented" and that Cheney may be more loyal to Pelosi than "to us."


Video: McCarthy will want 'allies of leadership' for Jan. 6 committee (MSNBC)

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"I don't know in history where someone would go get their committee assignments from the speaker and expect to get them from the conference as well," he continued. "Let me be clear, I'm not threatening anybody with committee assignments."

McCarthy's office did not reply to Insider's request for comment.

The California lawmaker. who has been in Congress since 2007, has promoted former President Donald Trump's false claims about the election and aligned himself with the pro-Trump forces in his caucus.

Although McCarthy's reported threat was broad, the only House Republicans who were reportedly being considered for spots on the Democrats' select committee are Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Cheney of Wyoming, both of whom are strident critics of Trump's lies about the election.

Kinzinger responded to McCarthy's comments in the closed door meeting on Thursday morning, telling reporters on Capitol Hill "Who gives a s---?"

"I do think the threat of removing committees is ironic, because you won't go after the space lasers and white supremacist people but those who tell the truth," Kinzinger said, according to Politico.

Cheney was ousted from House GOP leadership in May after raising concerns about her colleagues' dismissal of how serious the Capitol siege was, and has subsequently said she refuses to whitewash January 6.

She was replaced by a staunch Trump ally, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who has been far less critical of the insurrection and the former president's role in inciting it.

Getting stripped of committee assignments is a serious blow to any member of Congress, leaving them with effectively no influence beyond their one vote out of 435 when legislation finally reaches the floor.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia had her committee assignments removed shortly after she arrived on Capitol Hill over past anti-Semitic and conspiratorial comments, despite most of her fellow Republicans defending her and warning of a slippery slope.

It has also happened to former Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa after years of racist comments and one particular white supremacist remark in 2019, where he told The New York Times: "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization - how did that language become offensive?"

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