House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern on Tuesday ripped Republican leader Kevin McCarthy as “weak and cowardly” for opposing an inquiry to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
“I think the only reasonable conclusion is that he’s afraid of Donald Trump. And he doesn’t want to offend him – doesn’t want to get disinvited to Mar-a-Lago, but it is sad and it is pathetic,” McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront.”
“And getting to the truth matters here. You know, I was there on January 6. I was the last person off the House floor. I had to tell members to get their gas masks before they evacuated. I walked out to the Speaker’s Lobby and saw this mad mob breaking the glass.”
McGovern’s comments came hours after McCarthy had announced his opposition to the bipartisan agreement for an independent commission that would be tasked with investigating the circumstances behind supporters of then-President Donald Trump breaching the Capitol to try to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote for President Joe Biden.
The House could vote on the bill as early as Wednesday, but McCarthy’s opposition immediately sowed doubt about whether the legislation would even make it to the Senate floor for a vote.
Looming large over the debate is what the commission would mean for a Republican Party that is split between those anxious to put Trump in the rearview window and those who view him as essential to the party’s future
Even Republican senators who want to move on from Trump have reservations about spending months relitigating events that were already covered in an impeachment trial and would put the former President back in the daily news cycle.
But McGovern maintained Tuesday that this “should not be a difficult vote” while he touted the commission as an important mechanism for understanding the circumstances of the insurrection – regardless of political party.
“This is a truly bipartisan commission, negotiated in a bipartisan way, and you know it is what we all strive to achieve here on Capitol Hill. So that it is controversial, that Kevin McCarthy all of a sudden is getting cold feet because he’s afraid of Donald Trump – it’s pathetic,” he said.
“And so I appeal to my Republican colleagues: Do the right thing. It’s important that this commission move forward and that there be a full accounting and that the truth be out there.”
Rep. Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat and veteran who helped comfort other members during the riot, also slammed McCarthy on Tuesday, accusing the House minority leader of having selfish motivations in opposing an inquiry into the attack.
“I’m sure he’s thinking to himself, ‘I really don’t want to be subpoenaed by this commission, and I really don’t want to have to talk about, under subpoena, under oath, my conversation with Donald Trump the night of January 6th,’ ” Crow told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360” on Tuesday. “He doesn’t want to talk about that and I understand why. Of course his reasoning is wrong.”
Crow also accused McCarthy of trying to revise history, pointing to the California Republican’s own comments after the House was secured following the attack.
“Kevin McCarthy himself got up and gave a speech and called me out personally by name as one of the members that helped hold the breach and hold back the mob from taking the House floor,” Crow said.
“But now you fast-forward a couple of months, and it didn’t happen, or it didn’t happen the way that we all remembered it happened or our eyes deceive us, or the video footage is showing something different,” he added. “You know, what we are seeing is just a really unprecedented attempt to try to change history here, because they have determined it’s in their political self-interest to do so.”
In light of the 10 Republican votes necessary to pass the measure in the Senate regardless of McCarthy’s opposition, Crow stressed that the issue “underscores once again the need to end the filibuster in the Senate.”
“Because if we can’t do something like have a commission about an insurrection that our country faced just a couple of months ago, if we can’t pass common-sense gun violence prevention and voting rights bills, it’s time for this arcane Senate procedure to come to an end, because our democracy, frankly, at this point depends on it,” he added.
This story has been updated with comments from Rep. Jason Crow.
CNN’s Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.