McCarthy Shoots The Messenger As Honoré Preps To Brief House On Jan. 6 Failures

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 09: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
March 8, 2021 11:04 a.m.

House Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Sunday lambasted retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honoré and his “notorious partisan bias,” a statement he put out a day before Honoré briefs House members on security failures around the Capitol attack.

“While there may be some worthy recommendations forthcoming, General Honore’s notorious partisan bias calls into question the rationality of appointing him to lead this important security review,” McCarthy said. “It also raises the unacceptable possibility that the Speaker desired a certain result: turning the Capitol into a fortress.” 

In the statement, McCarthy refers to a meeting he had Wednesday with Honoré as the catalyst for making his public comments, though he waited until Sunday to tweet them.

Honoré is meeting with House members behind closed doors on Monday to discuss his recommendations, according to a Bloomberg report. Some of those suggestions reportedly include hiring more officers and beefing up the force’s intelligence capabilities.

While McCarthy’s fortress jab is likely a reference to the metal detectors guarding the House floor that are particularly abhorred by Republican members, a dislike of the militarization of the Capitol post-attack has been a unifier between Democrats and Republicans at hearings on the breach so far.

Honoré, known for his standout job in the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the colorful, gruff leadership style with which he did so, sent out a now-deleted tweet before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tapped him to head the security review which has rankled Republicans. 

“This little peace of shit with his @Yale law degree should be run out of DC and Disbarred ASAP @HawleyMO @tedcruz aaa hats,” it read. “These @Yale and @Harvard law grads is high order white privilege.”

He also made comments about the “complicity” of the Capitol police in the attack — which he later clarified to be about Capitol police leadership, not rank-and-file officers — which has become red meat for Republican lawmakers. Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) spent some of their limited questioning time piling on the comment at a late February hearing on the Capitol attack, despite the fact that Honoré was neither present nor a witness. 

Some House Republicans were ruffled even before Honoré’s criticisms came to light, claiming Pelosi had overstepped by selecting him to head up the security review without consulting the minority.

They also may have some political motivation to preemptively discredit Honoré and his findings. It’s well-known that many elected Republicans publicly stoked the election fraud conspiracy theory which helped fuel the attack. In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s office is investigating rioters possibly being giving tours by members before January 6. Rep. Tim Ryan’s (D-OH) office confirmed to TPM that related security footage has been turned over as part of the investigation.

Pelosi has also proposed an independent commission, in the style of the much lauded 9/11 commission, to investigate the attack, though there is already significant partisan disagreement over the composition and scope of the commission. Pelosi’s office told TPM last week that there is no update on when legislation to stand up the commission will come to a vote, leaving the commission’s fate in limbo.

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