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Pelosi names Republican Liz Cheney to Jan. 6 panel, says Rep. Bennie Thompson will chair

Only two Republicans joined all Democrats in approving the new panel to probe the attack.
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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday announced her appointed members of the newly created select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — and said one Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, will be among them.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who serves as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, will chair the select committee. Thompson negotiated a bill that would have established a bipartisan commission to investigate the riot, but the measure was ultimately blocked by Senate Republicans.

Cheney, who was ousted as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference after she spoke out against Trump and her fellow Republicans over their false election fraud claims, said Jan. 6 can never happen again.

“Congress is obligated to conduct a full investigation of the most serious attack on our Capitol since 1814,” Cheney said in a statement Thursday. “That day saw the most sacred space in our Republic overrun by an angry and violent mob attempting to stop the counting of electoral votes and threatening the peaceful transfer of power.”

The other members of the House select committee, which will have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents, include Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Elaine Luria, D-Va.

After meeting with the group in the speaker's office Thursday afternoon, Thompson stood with his fellow Democratic members and lone Republican and said the committee is "determined to assemble a comprehensive, authoritative report on events constituting the January 6th insurrection."

The panel will begin the process with a hearing featuring testimony from Capitol Police officers about their experiences that day, he said.

Pelosi’s announcement comes nearly seven months after the attack, in which hundreds of former President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to interrupt the counting of electoral votes solidifying Joe Biden’s victory. The speaker aimed to establish a 9/11 commission-style panel, which Thompson had negotiated, but that proposal failed in the Senate as Republicans repeatedly argued that there are already ongoing investigations into Jan. 6.

The speaker introduced her appointments at her weekly news conference Thursday and said the panel’s goal is to assess former Trump’s role in inciting his supporters and “to seek and to find the truth” about why they tried to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power.

“We want to do so in the most patriotic, non-partisan way,” Pelosi said.

The speaker’s decision to choose Cheney is notable as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has threatened to strip members of their existing committee assignments if they accept an appointment from Pelosi to the select committee, according to three sources.

McCarthy is said to have delivered a stark warning to Republicans during a closed-door meeting with freshman House Republicans on Wednesday. The threat was first reported by Punchbowl News. No freshmen voted to create the committee.

When asked Thursday if she is worried about losing her committee assignments, Cheney said she is honored to be on the committee and has not been told her seats will be taken away, but “our oath and duty is to the Constitution.”

At his weekly press conference Thursday, McCarthy claimed he is “not making any threats about committee assignments.” But, he said it is “shocking” that a Republican would accept a committee assignment from Pelosi and not from the GOP leadership.

The Republican leader can appoint five members to the select committee, but Pelosi has the final say over who can join. McCarthy refused to say anything Thursday about which lawmakers he might be considering.

The House voted 222 to 190 on Wednesday to establish the committee, with two Republicans, Cheney and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, joining all present Democrats in support of the panel.

Kinzinger told Forbes magazine in reaction to McCarthy’s threat, “Who gives a s---?”

“When you’ve got people who say crazy stuff and you’re not going to make that threat, but you make that threat to truth-tellers, you’ve lost any credibility,” he said, later retweeting the quote.

While the minority party is traditionally given the authority to choose committee assignments for its members, the formal decision to add or subtract a lawmaker from a committee is made by a vote of the full House. To make good on his threat, McCarthy would have to convince Pelosi to help him punish Cheney for agreeing to serve on Pelosi’s select committee.

Pelosi appointed a diverse set of members to the panel. Schiff serves as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and Lofgren chairs the House Administration Committee. Aguilar is vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus and Murphy co-chairs the moderate Blue Dog Coalition. Raskin was the lead impeachment manager during Trump's trial in the Senate earlier this year over his role in the Jan. 6 attack. Trump was ultimately acquitted by the Senate. Luria served two decades in the Navy.