Pelosi roils Republicans by naming Trump critics, Liz Cheney to panel probing US Capitol riot

Liz Cheney speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, as fellow members of the Capitol riots probe committee look on. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Some of former President Donald Trump's most prominent critics, including Republican Representative Liz Cheney and the Democrats who led the two impeachments against him, were named on Thursday (July 1) to serve on a special congressional panel probing the Jan 6 riot at the US Capitol.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced eight members of the committee investigating the events leading up to and on Jan 6, when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Democrat Joe Biden from being certified the winner of last November's presidential election against Republican Trump.

Five people died as a result of the violence, including a Capitol Police officer.

Other law enforcement officers suffered severe injuries as they battled the angry mob.

Just before the attack, Trump delivered fiery remarks at the White House and then encouraged his supporters to march to Capitol Hill.

Accepting the assignment, Cheney said she considered her duty to the US Constitution to be above politics.

"We have an obligation to have a thorough, sober investigation of what happened leading up to Jan 6, and the attack on the Capitol on that day," she told reporters after attending a first meeting with the other seven committee members, all Democrats, in Pelosi's office.

Addressing reports that House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened to strip any Republican member of their regular committee assignments if they accepted an offer from Pelosi, Cheney said she had not been told this.

McCarthy denied issuing such threats, but said Cheney's fellow Republicans would make decisions about committee memberships.

"I was shocked that she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi," he said.

He did not say whether he will name any of the members to the remaining five seats on the panel.

Cheney was removed from her House Republican leadership position in May after voting in January to impeach Trump and continuing to repudiate his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him by massive voter fraud.

'A black eye on our democracy'

Chairing the panel is Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, who also heads the House Homeland Security Committee that has been looking into the Jan 6 events.

He sidestepped a question about whether the panel might call Trump or other former administration officials to testify. The committee will have the power to subpoena witnesses.

Thompson said the committee would look at unanswered questions and systems that had failed. "Jan 6 was a devastating black eye on our democracy, and we have to make sure that it never happens again," he said.

He said the panel hoped to start with a hearing at which Capitol Police officers would testify.

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Other members of the new panel include Representative Adam Schiff, who took the lead in the December 2019 impeachment of Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead prosecutor in last January's second impeachment of Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection.

In both cases, the Senate did not convict Trump.

On Wednesday the House voted to establish the special committee after Senate Republicans blocked the creation of an independent commission Pelosi originally sought.

Republican leaders have resisted any special panel to investigate the Jan. 6 riot, noting existing congressional committees have been doing their own probes and that separately more than 500 people already have been charged with crimes.

A new, high-profile congressional investigation likely would keep questions alive on Trump's activities on that day and possibly complicate Republicans' efforts to win majority control of the House in the 2022 congressional elections.

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