House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) would serve on the House committee investigating the Donald Trump-inspired attack on the U.S. Capitol earlier this year.
“We are very honored and proud she has agreed to serve on the committee,” Pelosi said at a press conference announcing the committee members.
Pelosi said Jan. 6 — when a violent mob of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of election results, injuring law enforcement officers and defacing the building — was “one of the darkest days in our nation’s history.” Five people died as a result of the riot.
Cheney was the only Republican selected by Pelosi to serve on the special committee, alongside seven Democratic House lawmakers.
“Those who are responsible for the attack need to be held accountable and this select committee will fulfill that responsibility in a professional, expeditious and non-partisan manner,” Cheney said about joining the committee. “Our oath to the Constitution, our commitment to the rule of law, and preservation of the peaceful transfer of power must always be above partisan politics.”
Pelosi pushed to form the special House committee after Senate Republicans blocked the creation of a bicameral bipartisan commission to investigate the attack.
The committee has 13 seats, five of whom House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is supposed to appoint. McCarthy has not yet indicated whether he will cooperate with the committee, which is charged with issuing a report on what caused the riot, as well as how to prevent future attacks.
“It is clear that January 6th was not simply an attack on a building, but an attack on our very democracy: an attack on the peaceful transfer of power,” Pelosi said in a statement. “It is imperative that we find the truth of that day and ensure that such an assault on our Capitol and Democracy cannot ever again happen.”
Cheney, who was the third-ranking House Republican during the latter half of Trump’s term in office, was ousted from her leadership role for supporting Trump’s impeachment after the Capitol attack. She has been an outspoken critic of her own party’s leadership since.
She was among two Republicans to vote with Democrats to create a special committee. The other was Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
“Our nation, and the families of the brave law enforcement officers who were injured defending us or died following the attack, deserve answers,” Cheney said in a statement this week. “I believe this select committee is our only remaining option.”
McCarthy has spoken out against the committee, calling it overly partisan and a way to further divide the nation. He reportedly privately threatened the committee assignments of any Republican lawmaker who accepted Pelosi’s invitation to join the House group investigating the Capitol riot.
At a press conference Thursday, McCarthy denied threatening members. However, he said he thought it was inappropriate for Cheney to accept the committee position.
“I was shocked that she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi,” McCarthy said.
The lawmaker characterized the new committee as a partisan exercise, even though he declined to support a panel modeled after the bipartisan 9/11 commission.
“I have always found how the system works here: Republicans’ conference appoints Republicans and Democrats appoint Democrats,” he said, although he refused to say whether he would appoint members to the select committee.
McCarthy also would not say whether Trump deserved blame for inciting the riot. He said in January that the then-president bore responsibility for the attack, but almost immediately walked back the criticism.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a senior House Republican who voted against creating a bipartisan committee, echoed concern about partisanship but said he hoped the committee would be a fruitful exercise.
“It’s likely to be highly polarized and highly partisan,” Cole told HuffPost. “It’s too limited in scope. I don’t think it’s going to be credible vehicle but I would love to be wrong.”
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