WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday named Republican Rep. Liz Cheney to a new select committee on the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, elevating the most unyielding GOP critic of former President Donald Trump to work alongside seven Democrats on the high-profile investigation.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, will lead the panel, which will investigate what went wrong around the Capitol when hundreds of Trump supporters broke into the building. The rioters brutally beat police, hunted for lawmakers and interrupted the congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory over Trump.
Cheney said in a statement that she is “honored” to serve on the committee and that “Congress is obligated to conduct a full investigation of the most serious attack on our Capitol since 1814.”
Her appointment came just hours after House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy threatened to strip Republicans of committee assignments if they accepted an appointment from Pelosi to the panel. McCarthy told a closed-door meeting of first-term House GOP members on Wednesday that he, not Pelosi, controls Republicans’ committee assignments, according to a top GOP aide. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting.
After the announcement, McCarthy demurred, saying at a news conference that “I’m not making any threats” about committee assignments. But he made clear he wasn’t happy with Cheney.
“I was shocked that she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi,” McCarthy said. “It would seem to me, since I didn’t hear from her, maybe she’s closer to her than us.”
The Wyoming Republican’s appointment to the panel, and the warning from McCarthy, underscores the sharp and growing differences between the two parties over the insurrection. Many Republicans remain loyal to Trump and are loath to spend time reviewing the attack by his supporters. GOP leaders are working to shape the narrative about the committee’s work, complaining that it will be dominated by Democrats even though the Republicans scuttled an earlier attempt to form a bipartisan commission.
The House voted to form the 13-member panel Wednesday over the objections of 190 Republicans. Cheney, who was ousted from GOP leadership this year over her criticism of Trump, was one of only two Republicans who supported forming the committee. Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger was the other.
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