In Thursday's prime-time hearing, House lawmakers investigating the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol attempted to place blame on then-President Donald Trump. The lawmakers said the uprising was no accident but an "attempted coup" and a direct result of the defeated president's effort to overturn the 2020 election.
Congressman Jim Banks (R-Indiana) was one of the House Republicans who were initially appointed to the January 6 Committee by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, but were blocked from sitting on it by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. On Fox News this morning, he didn't mince words.
"Last night's hearing was a prime-time dud," Banks bluntly stated. "Nothing came out of it that we didn't know before and it didn't change anybody's minds.
"At the end of the day, this committee is trying to prosecute Donald Trump for crimes that he did not commit – and last night proved that they don't have any evidence that shows anything that's different than that."
According to the GOP congressman, if Democrats come up short in their attempt to "throw Donald Trump in jail," they have a backup plan regarding the former president.
"If the Democrats think this will distract Americans from the raging inflation, the gas prices out of control at the pump, and other crises that have befallen America since Joe Biden and Democrats took office, they are sadly mistaken ….
"This was not an insurrection. They have blown it all out of proportion and used it to demonize Donald Trump and anyone who supports Trump. And you know what? America isn't listening anymore."
Robert Knight, columnist
"If they can't get [him put in jail], they want to prevent his name from appearing on the ballot," said Banks. "They want to continue to use this committee process as a way to attack their political opponents."
Committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) said the January 6 attack put America's "constitutional democracy at risk." Banks finds such allegations disingenuous.
"[We] learned from reports over the weekend that this Committee is actually going to come out and recommend for abolishing the Electoral College and to advance the radical election agenda of the Democrats to federalize elections to move all states toward mail-in ballots," the GOP lawmaker shared. "That's what this committee is really all about – it's not about investigating January 6th."
Earlier on Thursday, Banks called the committee a "sham," saying its members "aren't interested in hearing about [serious issues and questions] being raised at all [about the Electoral College] because it changes the narrative away from the political witch hunt going after Donald Trump."
Additional related remarks from Rep. Banks on Fox News
"This Committee is a cover-up …. It's not just from distracting from the issues that the American people are demanding that we focus on like [the high gas prices], but it's a cover-up of Nancy Pelosi's rules and responsibilities as speaker of the House and oversight of the Capitol Police and Capitol security.
"She has documents in her office about why the National Guard was called off because of – quote – 'bad optics' as she refused to give up to the bipartisan Senate Homeland Security Committee that investigated January 6 several months ago."
"Why don't they want to talk about the real issues, about the complete disintegration and the breakdown of leadership in security on January 6 and the weeks leading up to it on Capitol? Those are the serious questions that – if I were in the room as the ranking member of this committee – that we would have been asking about last night, but we were denied the opportunity to do that."
"Never forget that Donald Trump in his speech [earlier on January 6] said 'Go down to the Capitol and patriotically and peacefully make your voice heard.' … They won't present that part of his speech to the American people."
"We have discovered serious and real issues related to the breakdown of leadership within the top ranks of the Capitol Police. Remember that right after January 6, the Capitol Police rank-and-file members got together – and over 90% of them voted 'no confidence' in their department's leadership. The head of the Capitol Police union told me that they weren't prepared for what happened on January 6 because the intelligence never got to them. They had intelligence weeks before then that never got to rank-and-file Capitol Police officers. They weren't equipped – they had outdated and faulty equipment; the rioters had better equipment than they did. And they weren't trained for a riot even after all the BLM riots in Washington, DC, and the BLM riots in the summer of 2020. Those are the real issues that our report is going to tackle: how to fix those issues and how to inform the next [House] speaker, Kevin McCarthy, on how to do a much better job to secure the Capitol and take those issues more seriously than Nancy Pelosi every did."
"These Democrats are so obsessed with Donald Trump that they are completely incapable of addressing the real issues that the American people care about – like the gas prices and inflation …. They do not care that it's costing you twice as much [compared to 18 months ago] to fill up your gas tank and costing you more to put food on the table. They do not care because it's their policies that are causing it – and all they have to do is roll back their radical agenda all across the board, and that would send us back to where we were just two years ago when we had a Republican in the White House in Donald Trump [and] when it was easier to make ends meet."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.