House Democrats to hold first Capitol riot hearing

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House Democrats to hold first Capitol riot hearing

House Democrats will hold their first hearing as part of their Jan. 6 Capitol riot probe Tuesday, where GOP Rep. Liz Cheney will have a prime speaking slot as the group attempts to gain bipartisan credibility.

The hearing, set to kick off at 9:30 a.m. EST, will begin with opening statements from House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who is also chairing the select committee investigating the riot, and Cheney (R-Wyo.).

Ahead of statements from the four witnesses testifying Tuesday — including Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell of the Capitol Police and Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of DC Metro Police — the panel will show what an aide has described as graphic video from the attack.

DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone
DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone is set to testify during the hearing.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Members of Congress were forced to evacuate in gas masks after a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump overpowered Capitol Police and breached the building.

Vice President Mike Pence was presiding over proceedings to certify then-President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral win at the time.

The House on Jan. 13 voted to impeach Trump over his role in the Jan. 6 siege, though he was acquitted in the Senate trial.

Rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.
Rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.
John Minchillo/AP

Originally, Thompson struck a deal with House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member John Katko (R-NY) on a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack in mid-May.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) came out against the compromise commission, however, after Trump lashed out at the idea in a statement.

Democrats led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) then pursued creating their own select committee — minus many of the previous requirements ensuring fairness.

Rep. Liz Cheney  -- one of two Republicans on the committee -- is set to have a prime speaking slot during the hearings.
Rep. Liz Cheney — one of two Republicans on the committee — is set to have a prime speaking slot during the hearings.
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images; The Washington Post via Getty Im

The new select committee also gave Pelosi the power to reject McCarthy’s GOP appointments to the panel, which she did for two of his members: Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.), saying she was concerned about the “integrity” of the probe in light of comments and actions the two Republicans made about Jan. 6.

Jordan, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, and Banks, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, have remained two of Trump’s top defenders in Congress. 

McCarthy ultimately opted to pull all five of his selections from serving on the panel, vowing for Republicans to launch their own investigation of the deadly riot.

But at least three of the Democrats on the panel — Reps. Adam Schiff of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the committee chair — have also made scathing comments or taken actions against Trump.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
On the role of the special committee, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, “we’re there to get the truth, not to get Trump.”
AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Thompson, the chair of the committee, even had to drop a lawsuit he had filed against Trump and his former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the Capitol riot when he was tapped by Pelosi.

Republicans have accused Pelosi of politicizing the investigation, but she claimed last week that her commission is “not even bipartisan, it’s nonpartisan,” adding that it is about “seeking the truth.” 

“We’re there to seek the truth, we’re there to get the truth, not to get Trump,” she said. “Trump seems to be what the other side is obsessed with.” 

Former President Donald Trump was acquitted after being impeached a second time, following the January 6 riots.
Former President Donald Trump was acquitted after being impeached a second time, following the January 6 riots.
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

She cited Cheney’s participation in the committee while pushing back against allegations of a partisan investigation, but Cheney is a former member of House GOP leadership who was ousted as the No. 3 Republican in the House over her criticisms of Trump, and her vote to impeach him over the riot. 

Her only other GOP selection for the panel is Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a staunch Trump critic.

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