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Who’s Who on the Select Committee Investigating Capitol Siege

July 2, 2021 by Dan McCue
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announces Democratic appointments to a new select committee to investigate the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 1, 2021. From left are Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Rep. Bennie Thompson D-Miss., who will lead the panel. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who was ousted from the GOP leadership for criticizing Trump, accepted Pelosi's invitation to join the committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi created quite the splash by appointing Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming to the new select committee that will soon begin a new investigation into the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

But the hoopla surrounding that appointment — and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s angry broadside that he’ll yank committee assignments from any Republican serving on the panel — largely overwhelmed the announcement of the rest of the panel.

Below is a list of the eight lawmakers  who have been appointed to the committee so far, along with their comments following their appointment.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.

Thompson, 73, a Mississippi native, is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and will be leading the Jan. 6 select committee. 

Currently serving his 14th full term in office, he is the only Democratic member of Mississippi’s congressional delegation. 

He was a teacher before entering local politics, serving as a mayor and country supervisor, which served as a springboard to the House. 

On Thursday he said the committee will focus on delivering a “definitive accounting of the attack — an undertaking so vital to guarding against future attacks.”

He went on to say the panel will look at the relevant causes of the insurrection and draft policy recommendations necessary to prevent any recurrence of “this nightmare” in the future.

Asked whether the committee would call former President Donald Trump to testify, Thompson said, “I think it’s important for us to have as much information as to the causes, and the ultimate effect, of Jan. 6. And I would not, if prompted, say that we should do it. But I would not resist it if we went there.”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.

Lofgren, a close ally of Pelosi, is chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, which has oversight of the U.S. Capitol Police. 

She has been a member of the House since 1995 and is an immigration attorney and immigration law professor who participated in the impeachment process for three presidents — Trump, Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, the latter as a congressional staffer. 

She said making the Capitol safer is not a substitute for finding out what really happened on Jan. 6. 

She said, “Who paid for it? How was it organized? We need to find that out to keep the country safe.

“Jan. 6 was one of the darkest days in our country’s history. Violent insurrectionists attempted to obstruct the peaceful and lawful operation of our government. 

“Because Senate Republicans filibustered the creation of a bipartisan, independent commission, the Select Committee is necessary.  We need an objective, clear-eyed review of what led to the insurrectionist attack.

“The Committee on House Administration has held five oversight hearings on issues in its jurisdiction related to Jan, 6 which revealed detailed and disturbing problems.  We will continue to pursue remedial action.

“The fact that there were deficiencies in the management of the Capitol Police did not cause the insurrection. The Select Committee will investigate the causes and circumstances leading up to the events that day.  The American people deserve answers to these questions and plans to protect our institutions.

“I look forward to working with my Select Committee colleagues to uncover the truth, protect our democracy, and ensure that such an attack will never happen again.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Schiff is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and best known as the leader and public face of Trump’s first impeachment for his actions involving Ukraine. 

He has served in the House for two decades and prior to entering Congress served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles and as a state senator. 

“Our goal, as a stable interface, is to create a comprehensive report and a set of recommendations on how to protect the country,” Schiff said. “We view the 9/11 Commission Report as the gold standard.  And each of the committees – the speaker has made clear she wants them to continue pursuing the work they’re doing.  But there needs to be one committee whose focus is solely on this matter, and compiling a comprehensive and authoritative report.  So, those other investigations will go on.  

“There’s still a tremendous amount that we don’t know about what led up to the insurrection.  Why were we so ill-prepared for it?  What we need to do to protect ourselves going forward, and that’s what we’ll be looking at with the [committee].”

Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif.

Aguilar, an up-and-comer in the Democratic party, is serving his fourth term in the House and now holds the No. 6 position in House Democratic leadership. 

He is a former mayor who now serves on the House Administration and Appropriations Committees.

“I was on the House floor that day when a violent mob, intent on preventing the certification of a free and fair election, broke into the Capitol,” he said Thursday. “The attack on the Capitol and our democracy left five dead, more than 140 police officers injured, and members and staff traumatized. We owe them—and we owe the American people— a fair, thorough and evidence-based investigation into what happened that day so that we can ensure it never happens again. 

“To be clear, the attack on Jan. 6 was an attempt to prevent the peaceful transition of power that is the cornerstone of our democracy,” Aguilar continued. “While this attempt ultimately failed, we cannot and should not move on until we have completed a thorough investigation to understand what happened that day and in the days leading up to it.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on the committee under the leadership of Chairman Thompson to uncover the truth and provide the accountability the American people deserve.”

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla.

Murphy is a former national security specialist at the Defense Department now serving her third term in Congress. 

Over the course of her public service career, she has worked on a wide range of security issues: counterterrorism, foreign military relations, strategic planning for the department and more. 

She is the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress, and has been a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats. She recently passed up a chance to run for statewide office in Florida to continue her work on Capitol Hill.

“My goal is simple and straightforward: to find the truth of what happened, and why it happened, so we can ensure that it never happens again,” she said upon her appointment to the committee. “I will follow the facts wherever, and to whomever, they lead—without preconceived conclusions and through a strictly non-partisan lens.

“When I was a baby, my family fled an authoritarian country. We were rescued by the U.S. Navy and given refuge in America. I love this country beyond words. To see the citadel of American democracy assaulted is a reminder that our democracy is not self-sustaining. It needs to be preserved and protected by American patriots of every political stripe.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.

Raskin is serving his third term representing a Maryland district adjacent to Washington. 

He served as a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law for more than 25 years and was the lead prosecution lawyer in Trump’s second impeachment trial. 

Like Lofgren and Schiff, Raskin is a strong Pelosi ally, and he has seats on both the House judiciary and oversight committees.

“The impeachment trial of Donald Trump determined – by robust, bicameral, bipartisan majorities – who incited the violence on Jan. 6,” he said. “But who organized the violence of Jan. 6? How did they organize it? And why did they organize it? What were the purposes of all the different critical actors who were present on that day? 

“That’s what we need to figure out and that’s why this investigation is essential for every American. Madison said that people who mean to be their own governors must ‘arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives.’ We need the knowledge of the extremist threat that confronts us in order to defend our democracy with everything that we’ve got,” he said.

Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va.

Luria is a second-term Congresswoman from Virginia Beach. Prior to her arrival on the hill, she served two decades in the Navy, retiring at the rank of commander. 

She served at sea on six ships, deployed to the Middle East and culminated her career by commanding a combat-ready unit of 400 sailors. She represents a swing district with a large military and veterans population along the Virginia coast. 

“I swore an oath many times as a Navy officer, and as a member of Congress, to uphold the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic,” Luria said. “The American people have a right to know the facts of what motivated the attack on the U.S. Capitol and the extent to which these extremist groups continue to undermine our Constitution and subvert our democratic values. 

“Previous attempts to investigate this attack have been thwarted by those who routinely put politics over country. Enough is enough, it’s time to unearth all the facts surrounding the Jan. 6 attack and unite the country around solutions to strengthen our democracy and eradicate domestic extremism,” she said.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney is so far the lone Republican on the new committee. She is one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the insurrection at the Capitol, saying he “lit the flame” that ignited the attack. 

She has only stepped up her criticism of Trump since then, angering colleagues who voted to remove her from a leadership position. 

“I think it’s clear to all the people on this committee that our oath to the Constitution, our duty, our dedication to the rule of law and the peaceful transfer of power has to come above any concern about partisanship or about politics. That’s crucially important,” she said after her appointment was announced. “We need a thorough, sober investigation about what happened leading up to Jan. 6 and the attack on the Capitol that day.”

“My oath, my duty – all of our oaths and our duties – is to the Constitution.  And that will always be above politics,” she said later.

More to Come?

Republicans still  have the chance to recommend five additional members to the panel, but it’s unclear whether they will do so. 

If Minority Leader McCarthy does choose to fill those five seats, he is likely to make his picks from a short-list that reportedly includes Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.; Mike Johnson, R-La.; Jim Banks, R-Ind.; John Rutherford, R-Fla.; Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D.; and Rodney Davis, R-Ill.

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