WASHINGTON — Unfazed by Republican threats of a boycott, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that a congressional committee investigating the January 6 Capitol uprising will do its “deadly serious” work whether Republicans participate or not.
Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy called the committee a “false process” and suggested that GOP lawmakers who participate could face consequences. McCarthy said the rejection of the two Republicans Pelosi had tried to appoint was a “gross abuse of power.”
The escalating tension between the two sides – before the investigation began – is a symbol of raw partisan anger that has only worsened on Capitol Hill as supporters of former President Donald Trump surrounded the Capitol and obstructed the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory done. Most Republicans are still loyal to Trump, and with many downplaying the seriousness of the violent attack, little bipartisan unity can be found.
McCarthy said Wednesday that all five Republicans appointed by Pelosi would withdraw, including two that were dismissed by Reps Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio. Pelosi made it clear on Thursday that she would not back down and that Democrats would consider filling the vacant seats themselves.
Pelosi said of the Republicans, “It is my responsibility as Speaker of the House to reach this truth and we will not let their actions come in the way.”
For now it is unclear whether Pelosi will seek to appoint more members to the selection panel, as she has the authority to do so under the committee’s rules. He left open the possibility, saying that there are other members who would like to participate. But she said she has not decided whether to appoint Illinois Representative Adam Kizinger, one of only two Republicans who voted in support of forming the panel last month.
Secondly, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney has already been appointed by Pelosi to sit on the committee with seven Democrats — to ensure she has a quorum to move forward, whether other Republicans participate or not.
Cheney praised Kizinger, saying he would be a “tremendous addition” to the panel. Several Democrats on the panel also seemed to support the idea, with Mississippi President Benny Thompson saying the military veteran is a “kind of person we want to be.”
Banks and Jordan are outspoken allies of Trump, who have continued to spread lies about rampant election fraud and defended their supporters who stormed the Capitol. The rioters fought in front of the police and sent the MPs inside to save their lives.
The House voted in May to create an independent investigation that would have been split equally between the parties, but Senate Republicans blocked that approach in a vote last month. Pelosi said the new panel was being created only because a bipartisan commission was no longer an option.
Asked on Thursday whether Cheney – and potentially Kinzinger – could be stripped of his regular committee functions as retaliation for participating, McCarthy said, “the convention will look into it.” Cheney accepted the assignment from Pelosi earlier this month, despite similar threats from McCarthy.
Pelosi acknowledged McCarthy’s three other choices — Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong and Texas Rep. Troy Nehls. But McCarthy said all five or none would participate.
Like Jordan and Banks, Nehls voted to reverse Biden’s victory. Armstrong and Davis voted to substantiate the election.
Banks recently traveled with Trump to the US-Mexico border and met him at his New Jersey golf course. In a statement after McCarthy elected him to the panel, he sharply criticized the Democrats who founded it.
“Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to denigrate conservatives and justify a left-wing authoritarian agenda,” Banks said.
Democrats whom Pelosi appointed to the committee earlier this month were outraged by that statement, and were concerned by Banks’ two recent visits with Trump, according to a senior Democratic aide who was familiar with the private deliberations, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss them.
Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, was one of Trump’s most vocal defenders during his two impeachments and compared the new investigation last month to “impeachment three.” Trump was impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate both times.
The panel is also considering appointing former Virginia Representative Denver Rigelman, a Republican who has criticized Trump’s lies about election fraud, as an outside adviser, a person familiar with the committee’s work. According to, which was given anonymity to discuss private talks.
Cheney told reporters he agreed with Pelosi’s decision to reject the two Republicans nominated by McCarthy.
“On every occasion, the minority leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened – to block this investigation,” Cheney said.
The panel, which will hold its first hearing next week, will have at least four police officers who fought the rioters and testified to their experiences. The members of the committee made preparations by meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Thompson said the hearing would allow law enforcement officers to tell their stories and “set the tone” to launch an investigation.
Seven people died during and after the riots, including a woman who was shot by police as she tried to break into a House chamber and three other Trump supporters who suffered medical emergencies Was. Two police officers died by suicide in the following days, and a third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Siknick, collapsed and later died after engaging with protesters. A medical examiner determined that he died of natural causes.
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report.