Washington — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her appointments to the select committee to investigate the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, including GOP Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who was one of only two Republicans toof establishing the committee on Wednesday.
"The next step for us has always been to seek and to find the truth. We want to do so in the most patriotic and nonpartisan way so the American people have confidence in the results," Pelosi said in a press conference announcing her appointments.
Pelosi has the authority to appoint the 13 members of the committee, with five of those picks made in consultation with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The speaker had pledged to use one of her picks to appoint a Republican, which would give the committee a more even partisan balance of seven Democrats and six Republicans. However, most GOP members opposed the creation of the committee, arguing that it would be too partisan in nature.
In addition to Cheney, Pelosi's other picks include Democratic Representatives Bennie Thompson, Elaine Luria, Jamie Raskin, Stephanie Murphy, Pete Aguilar, Adam Schiff and Zoe Lofgren. Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, will chair the January 6 panel.
Cheney wasfrom her Republican leadership position in May due to her frequent criticism of former President Donald Trump and her refusal to downplay the events of January 6, when a mob of violent Trump supporters overran the Capitol in an effort to prevent Congress from finalizing President Biden's electoral victory. In a statement after Pelosi announced her appointment, Cheney said Congress "is obligated to conduct a full investigation of the most serious attack on our Capitol since 1814."
"What happened on January 6 can never happen again. Those who are responsible for the attack need to be held accountable and this select committee will fulfill that responsibility in a professional, expeditious and nonpartisan manner," Cheney said.
Five people died during the insurrection, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died hours after engaging with rioters. A medical examiner laterhe died of natural causes. Two Capitol Police officers died by suicide after the attack, and more than 100 Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police officers were injured.
It is still unclear who McCarthy might name to the committee, if anyone. The minority leader warned freshman Republicans on Wednesday not to accept an appointment to the select committee from Pelosi unless they were willing lose their other committee assignments, two sources familiar told CBS News.
McCarthy told reporters later on Thursday that he was surprised Cheney had accepted the appointment.
"I was shocked that she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi," McCarthy said. "Maybe she's closer to her than us."
When asked on Thursday what the committee would do if McCarthy did not make selections to the committee promptly, Pelosi noted that "we have a quorum." Pelosi has also previously suggested that she could veto McCarthy's choices, as he would have to make them in consultation with the speaker, meaning that she could override his decision if he appointed members who have whitewashed the attack or voted against counting the Electoral College results.
Thompson, the new committee's chair, negotiated a bill with Republican Congressman John Katko last month to create a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the attack. The measure to establish such a panel, modeled after the 9/11 Commission,with 35 Republicans joining all Democrats in supporting it. However, it was last month.
"We will do our job. We will do it according to the oath we took as members of Congress. But more importantly we have to get to the bottom of finding out all the things that went wrong on January 6," Thompson said during the press conference on Thursday.
Thompson told reporters later on Thursday that the committee's first hearing will be one in which Capitol Police officers can testify about their experiences defending the Capitol on January 6.
"It makes a positive statement to the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend not just members of Congress but the staff who works here as well as this citadel of democracy we work in everyday as members of Congress," he said.
Pelosi has said that she would have preferred to have an independent commission investigate January 6, but since the Senate has not voted on the bill, she believes the House must take independent action.
Zak Hudak contributed to this report.