The 2 Republicans on the Jan. 6 committee called out the GOP. Here’s what they said
Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney both emphasized their party affiliation and the stakes of the investigation during the committee’s first hearing Tuesday
The two Republicans serving on the U.S. House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol both emphasized their party affiliation and the stakes of the investigation during the committee’s first hearing this week.
“I’m here to investigate Jan. 6 not in spite of my membership in the Republican Party, but because of it,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., mentioned first voting for Ronald Reagan in 1984 and having disagreements with Democratic members of the committee, but said, “in the end, we are one nation under God.”
The intended audience of Tuesday’s hearing in Washington, D.C., was history — “Our children are watching,” Cheney said — and the mood was shaken but resolved. Kinzinger teared up when addressing the four officers who testified about their defense of the Capitol. “You guys won,” he said. “You guys held.” Other lawmakers wiped away tears and grimaced while watching graphic footage of the attack.
Kinzinger criticized Republicans who “treated this as just another partisan fight,” and called their actions “toxic.” Cheney described the cost of not investigating Jan. 6 as existential.
“If Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power,” she said. “We will face the threat of more violence in the months to come, and another Jan. 6 every four years.”
The bipartisanship of the select committee was an open point of contention in the lead-up to first hearing. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew his five Republicans picks for the committee — three of whom voted against certifying the 2020 election — after Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two. The committee is split 7-2, but it will have subpoena power and committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said its investigation would not be partisan.
“We’re going to be guided solely by the facts, the facts of what happened on Jan. 6, in the run-up to that tragic day, and what has taken place since,” he said. “There’s no place for politics and partisanship in this investigation.”
Some House Republicans have questioned Cheney and Kinzinger’s loyalty and called for their ouster. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., tweeted that the pair had “effectively removed themselves from the Republican Conference. We should help them out the door by formalizing their departure.” McCarthy branded the duo “Pelosi Republicans,” suggesting someone who voted with former President Donald Trump 92.9% of the time has much in common with a San Francisco liberal.
Cheney and Kinzinger were among the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection after the Jan. 6 attack and both face primary challengers next year. Trump is especially focused on finding a candidate to unseat Cheney, and advisers have had talks with potential challengers for several months, according to Politico.
Though Cheney and Kinzinger are out of step with their party, some polls show they’re in line with a majority of the public. A CBS News poll found 72% of Americans believe “there’s more to learn” about the Jan. 6 attack, and 56% said they would describe what happened at the Capitol as an “insurrection.”
During the hearing, those who attacked the Capitol were called terrorists and insurrectionists. U.S. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn addressed them directly: “You all tried to disrupt democracy that day and you failed.” He used an analogy of a hitman to allude to Trump. “There was an attack carried out on Jan. 6 and a hitman sent them,” Dunn said.
D.C. Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone slammed his fist on his desk when calling out members of Congress who downplayed or denied what happened. “The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” he said.
“So many of my fellow citizens, including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend, are downplaying or outright denying what happened,” Fanone said. “I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room, but too many are telling me that hell doesn’t exist or that hell actually wasn’t that bad.”
U.S. Capitol Police sergeant Aquilino Gonell was unequivocal in calling what happened “an attempted coup” and he said it was “something that (Trump) himself helped to create.”
“It was an attempted coup that was happening in the Capitol that day and if it had been another country, the U.S. would have sent help,” he said. “People need to understand the severity of and the magnitude of the event that was happening that day. We were all fighting for our lives.”
D.C. Metropolitan Police officer Daniel Hodges, who is white, described the insurrection as a white nationalist action and some of the insurrectionists “tried to convert us to their cult” even as they spewed slurs at Black officers.
“Some of them would try to recruit me,” Hodges said. “One of them came up to me and said, ‘Are you my brother?’”
So far, at least 543 defendants have been charged in connection with the insurrection, more than 200 have been indicted by grand juries, and at least 23 have pleaded guilty, according to CBS News.