Cheney Stirs GOP Ire After Pelosi Names Her to Jan. 6 Probe
(Bloomberg) -- GOP Representative Liz Cheney accepted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s appointment to a 13-member committee that will investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, a move that’s likely to further ostracize Cheney from her party.
The Wyoming lawmaker, one of the 10 GOP House members who voted in January to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in stoking the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, drew immediate criticism from House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy for agreeing to serve on the panel.
“For somebody to accept committee assignments from Speaker Pelosi -- unthinkable,” McCarthy, who has not yet said whether he will fill the five Republican seats on the select committee, told reporters Thursday. He said he was “shocked” Cheney would accept.
Serving on the panel as a Pelosi appointee represents Cheney’s latest break from House GOP colleagues. Cheney was ousted from the third-ranking House Republican leadership post after her vote in favor of impeachment and other comments she made criticizing the former president.
McCarthy did not say Thursday whether he’d seek to strip Cheney of her assignment to the Armed Services Committee as punishment. “Let me very clear -- I am not threatening anybody with committee assignments,” McCarthy said.
Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson will chair the panel, Pelosi said. Thompson said the committee will begin its work with a hearing featuring testimony from Capitol Police officers about their experiences during the attack.
Pelosi’s move comes a day after the House passed a Democratic bill creating the select committee, which most Republicans dismissed as an exercise in partisan politics.
“The next step has always been to seek and find the truth,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. “We will do so in the most patriotic and non-partisan way.”
Cheney and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois were the only Republicans to vote for the measure. She said she was “honored” to join the panel.
“What happened on Jan. 6th can never happen again,” Cheney said in a statement. “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.”
The appointment comes as Cheney’s future in the Republican Party remains uncertain, despite her political lineage as the daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney. She already faces a number of potential primary opponents next November.
But in her statement Thursday, Cheney added, “Our oath to the Constitution, our commitment to the rule of law, and the preservation of the peaceful transfer of power must always be above partisan politics.”
There was no immediate comment from officials in the Wyoming Republican Party, including its chairman, W. Frank Eathorne, on Cheney’s appointment. In February, the state party voted to censure Cheney and also asked her to resign for her vote to impeach Trump after the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
In May, 35 House Republicans voted in favor of an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the causes of the insurrection by a mob of then-president Trump’s supporters as Congress was certifying the result of the 2020 presidential election. But Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell led a successful Republican effort to block the commission legislation, prompting Pelosi to push ahead with a House inquiry.
The bill provides no deadline for the committee to complete its work, which could extend into 2022, an election year in which control of the House and Senate will be decided.
Thompson said Thursday that the panel will get started as soon as possible and will move forward without additional Republicans if McCarthy doesn’t appoint anyone.
“If the need arises for public hearings we will do it,” he said.
As chairman, Thompson will have the power to issue subpoenas, requiring only consultation with the panel’s top Republican.
The committee also will scrutinize the security preparations and the response of the Capitol Police as well as federal, state and local law enforcement.
Another focus will be what the bill calls “influencing factors that fomented such an attack on American representative democracy while engaged in a constitutional process,” a reference to the disruption of certifying Electoral College votes.
Also named to the panel are Adam Schiff, Zoe Lofgren and Pete Aguilar of California, Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Elaine Luria of Virginia and Jamie Raskin of Maryland.
Raskin said on Thursday: “The question in my mind is: Who organized it? How did they organize it? And why did they organize it?”
Both Thompson, and Lofgren, chair of the Committee on House Administration, have already been heading reviews by their respective panels of events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack.
In February, the state GOP voted to censure Cheney and also asked her to resign from Wyoming’s lone House seat for her vote to impeach Trump after the Capitol insurrection.
Already, the field of Republicans eyeing her seat in 2022 is crowded. Six showed up two weeks ago at a forum in Casper hosted by the conservative political action committee America First. Neither Cheney nor an eighth candidate, state senator Anthony Bouchard of Cheyenne, attended.
However, Cheney repeatedly emphasized om Thursday that “my oath and my duty is above partisanship.” She also said she believes there are “many Republicans” who understand the importance of investigating Jan 6.
Cheney said she has not talked to McCarthy and not yet been stripped of her committee, but that, “we’ll see.”
Cheney also declined to comment on whether Trump or McCarthy need to testify to the select committee, saying she doesn’t want to comment on any witnesses at this time.
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