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Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney has agreed to join House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Capitol riot committee — furthering her rift with Republican leaders who say it will be a politically biased inquiry.
Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled Cheney’s participation at a press conference, saying she “has patriotically agreed to serve on the committee.”
The other committee members — seven Democrats — appeared at the press conference to field reporter questions, but Cheney was a no-show.
“She has a family matter she’s dealing with — may join us, depending on how long this takes. But we’re very honored and proud that she has agreed to serve on the committee,” Pelosi said.
Cheney’s participation allows Democrats to claim that the committee’s work is “bipartisan,” despite Cheney’s increasing isolation after fellow Republicans booted her from her party leadership role in May.
Pelosi told reporters she was “so glad that it will be bipartisan from the start.”
Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois were the only Republicans who voted on Wednesday to create the committee.
House Republicans stripped Cheney of her No. 3 GOP leadership spot over her outspoken criticism of former President Donald Trump.
She said in a statement, “I’m honored to have been named to serve on the January 6th select committee.”
Cheney added: “Congress is obligated to conduct a full investigation of the most serious attack on our Capitol since 1814. 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.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that he would not strip Cheney of her committee assignments as a result of her decision — but added that it was “unprecedented” for her to accept a committee assignment from the Democratic leader.
“I’m not threatening anybody with committee assignments,” McCarthy said at a press conference.
“What I’m saying is, it was shocking to me that if a person is Republican, they get their committee assignments from the Republican conference. For somebody to accept committee assignments from Speaker Pelosi — that’s unprecedented.”
An attempted bipartisan commission to review the Capitol riot was negotiated by Rep. John Katko (R-NY) in May and passed the House with 35 Republican votes. But that proposal gained only six GOP votes in the Senate — not enough to overcome the 60-vote threshold to proceed.
Katko slammed Pelosi’s final formulation, which required only House passage, saying that it would be “a turbo-charged partisan exercise, not an honest fact-finding body that the American people and Capitol Police deserve.”
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), who like Katko voted to impeach Trump for allegedly inciting the riot, also slammed Pelosi’s plan.
Gonzalez said the committee “will end up being a partisan shouting match that accomplishes next to nothing and only serves to further divide us.”
Many Republicans anticipate the Democrat-led committee will attempt to broadly condemn Trump supporters and potentially be wielded to attack them ahead of the 2022 and 2024 elections — rather than impartially settle outstanding questions, such as whether any participants pre-planned the storming of the Capitol.
Democratic members of the special riot committee include the leaders of efforts to impeach Trump, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager in Trump’s 2020 Senate trial for urging Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden’s job on the board of a gas company while his father led the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who prosecuted Trump in the Senate this year for allegedly inciting the riot, also will be on the panel.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) will be the body’s chairman. Other members include Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.).
Although Republicans led by McCarthy technically can have a say on five committee members, they aren’t expected to appoint anyone to the spots.
Republican arguments against a congressional inquiry include the fact that federal prosecutors are in the process of arresting, charging and brokering plea deals with rioters.
The FBI has arrested at least 465 people for allegedly participating in the riot.
“When it comes to what happened on Jan. 6, we want to get to the bottom of that. It’s disgusting what transpired that day,” McCarthy said last week. “Unfortunately, the speaker has always played politics with this. Time and again. She’s never once talked to me about it.”
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