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CNN’s Poppy Harlow pops off when McCarthy strategist pooh-poohs Jan 6 riot: ‘Affects no one’s lives’

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A top political strategist for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) engaged in a fiery back-and-forth with CNN host Poppy Harlow Thursday afternoon after he said that the events at the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6 have no effect on average Americans’ lives.

To begin the segment, Harlow and strategist Mike Shields discussed an announcement earlier in the day from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in which she named members to a committee allegedly charged with investigating the lead-up to the protest that involved storming the building while members of Congress were inside preparing to certify the 2020 electoral votes.

Embattled GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who was recently removed as chair of the House Republican Conference, was the sole GOP member named to the committee. And while McCarthy can name five additional Republican members, Pelosi has the final say as to whether she will allow them to be on the panel, which has led most House GOP members to shun the panel altogether, claiming it will be one-sided and highly partisan.

Harlow first asked Shields to explain the minority leader’s opposition to the so-called bipartisan committee proposal as well as his opposition to Pelosi’s select committee.

(Video: CNN)

Earlier, the host said McCarthy did not want to support the committee “even after Nancy Pelosi gave in on nearly all of his demands outlined in that February 22 letter, like equal representation by Democrats and Republicans, co-equal subpoena power,” adding, “Why is he deadset against getting answers here?”

Noting Pelosi’s veto power over Republicans that McCarthy would name to the committee, Shields called it a “partisan committee” while noting further that his boss had proposed creating a panel that would, instead, take a look at broader “political violence,” to include an assassination attempt on members of Congress at a ball field near Washington, D.C., in June 2017. Then-House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot and nearly killed in the attack by a disgruntled supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“Why only focus on January 6?” Shields said, suggesting it was because Democrats are “in a terrible position” to keep the House during next year’s midterm elections.

After calling the formation of the committee a “partisan process” and little more than “political theater,” Shields noted that the FBI was continuing to investigate the protest and was still identifying and arrested participants. “I support the Capitol Police,” he said, adding:  “Anyone who did anything on January 6 that is illegal should go to jail.”

Moments later, the interview took on a more heated tone.

Shields suggested that Democrats would keep the committee investigating indefinitely for maximum political effect prior to the midterms, then added, “By the way, as a campaign operative, as a Republican, I’m kind of glad.”

“If the Democrats want to run in ’22 about January 6, which affects no one’s lives in this country every day, Republicans are going to run on securing the border –” he said before Harlow interjected.

“What?” she said, clearly shocked. “Wait, wait, hold on, January 6 affects no one’s lives in this country?

“This commission is not going to affect people’s lives,” Shields repeated.

“How could not having answers to an ongoing threat — Mike! An ongoing threat, a life or death threat according to DHS–” said Harlow, as the two talked over each other, with Shields again saying the panel is just “political theater.”

Harlow reminded Shields that some years ago, McCarthy said he wanted to get to the bottom of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, no matter where the facts led.

“We should investigate all of the political violence that happened in this country last year going back to when members of Congress were actually shot,” Shields said again, but the so-called ‘1/6 Committee’ is a “sham political process” and “Republicans are right to focus on the real issues the American people care about.”

Jon Dougherty

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