Ex-GOP Representative Riggleman to Join Jan. 6 Panel Staff
(Bloomberg) -- House Democrats have hired former Republican Representative Denver Riggleman and a longtime Department of Homeland Security official as staff members for the committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Riggleman, who was a U.S. Air Force intelligence officer before running for Congress, lost re-election to his Virginia seat to a Republican primary challenger in 2020 despite then-President Donald Trump’s endorsement. He’ll be a researcher and adviser to the committee, which is expected to focus partly on Trump’s incitement of the riot and his actions while it was under way.
The committee’s staff will also include the principal deputy general counsel at the Department of Homeland Security, Joseph Maher, the panel’s chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement announcing the hires, which were reported earlier by Bloomberg.
“I thank these two public servants for their willingness to support the Select Committee’s important work by joining our nonpartisan staff,” Thompson said. “They understand how close our democracy was to catastrophe on January 6th and I commend their commitment to help ensure we never see a repeat of that day.”
He said that a Republican member of the committee, Representative Liz Cheney, had recommended Maher’s appointment. Maher has worked for DHS since shortly after its creation following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to Thompson’s statement, and has been in his current position since 2011.
Riggleman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The additions of Riggleman and Maher to the staff are unlikely to soften GOP characterizations of the committee as politically one-sided. Just two of its nine members are Republicans and both of them -- Cheney, of Wyoming, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois -- were chosen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled his nominees to the committee after Pelosi rejected two of them, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana. Each voted against accepting Electoral College votes for President Joe Biden on the day of the insurrection.
Riggleman was a Trump supporter during his time in Congress, but he was one of a small number of Republicans who quickly acknowledged Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
He was known for a bipartisan streak, and for speaking with uncommon candor about some of the then-president’s behavior, including Trump’s embrace, he said, of “groups that are just anti-American” such as QAnon.
Riggleman and his wife, Christine, own a whiskey and gin distillery, called Silverback Distillery in Afton, Va., that they started in 2013, according to his former campaign website.
His background as an intelligence officer included mission planning during the bombing of Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. He was CEO of Analyst Warehouse, a company that contracted with the National Security Agency, from 2007 to 2015.
Senate Republicans had earlier blocked the creation of a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol. The House committee was then created by a resolution authored by Pelosi.
Led by Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, the committee is supposed to have 13 members. But just Cheney and Kinzinger sit on the panel with seven Democrats.
Last week, members of the committee made clear during their dramatic first public hearing that Trump’s activities on Jan. 6 would be a central focus of their inquiry. In the coming weeks, some top Trump allies could face subpoenas in the investigation.
There’s no set date for the committee’s next public hearing, but Thompson has said it could take place before House members return to Washington in mid-September following a summer break.
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