GRAND FORKS — U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong has been selected by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The appointments of Armstrong, R-N.D., and four other Republicans still need approval by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But the move could put Armstrong at the center of the country’s ongoing conversation about the events of Jan. 6 and the legacy of former President Donald Trump.
McCarthy’s other selections include Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind.; Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.; and Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas.
“Jan. 6 was a tragic day. It is clear there was a failure of leadership at multiple levels that resulted in a security breach at the Capitol. Americans deserve to know the exact nature of those failures," Armstrong said Tuesday afternoon in an emailed statement to the media. "We need to make sure that law enforcement, staff, members, press, and everyone else who visits Capitol grounds are never placed in that situation ever again. We need to accomplish this while guaranteeing the Capitol remains open and accessible to the American people."
McCarthy’s suggestion of five Republican members is a shift for the GOP leader. Three weeks ago, he had threatened to take away GOP members’ committee assignments if they accepted an offer to serve on the new Jan. 6 committee.
The select committee, too, is itself a significant shift from earlier plans to investigate the Capitol riot. Many congressional leaders had hoped for a 9/11-style commission, which would likely have investigated and issued findings on the insurrection with more authority. Plans to create such a commission failed to overcome a GOP filibuster in the Senate.
Armstrong voted against the creation of that commission in a House vote in May. He also supported the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., following her repeated criticism of Trump and his claims of a stolen election.
The select committee, though, is expected to take up similar work, investigating the causes of Jan. 6 and how, precisely, the day unfolded. The proceedings are expected to be politically fraught because they are so intertwined with Trump, including his unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen and his apparent encouragement of the crowd before it arrived at the Capitol, for which he was impeached earlier this year.
Armstrong, however, said the investigation "cannot be about politics."
"Our nation needs to heal, find the truth, and restore confidence in our institutions," he said. "Efforts to score partisan points will do nothing to make the people who work here safer and will further entrench our divisions. I am hopeful that we can conduct a fact-based investigation that ensures the security and accessibility of the People’s House.”