Jan. 6 select committee takes shape with Kinzinger addition

Nine-member panel set to have seven Democrats and two Republicans

Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois is the second Republican on the Jan. 6 select committee. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois is the second Republican on the Jan. 6 select committee. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Posted July 25, 2021 at 7:35pm

The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol now has two Republicans — a bipartisan panel, but one devoid of voices closely aligned with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and much of his conference.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., on Sunday announced he had accepted Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s appointment to the panel.

“Today, I was asked by the Speaker to serve on the House Select Committee to Investigate January 6th and I humbly accepted,” Kinzinger said in a statement. “I will work diligently to ensure we get to the truth and hold those responsible for the attack fully accountable.”

Kinzinger joins Liz Cheney of Wyoming as the only Republicans on the panel tasked with investigating and reporting the facts and causes relating to the Capitol attack. They were the only two Republicans to vote to establish the select panel.

“Let me be clear, I’m a Republican dedicated to conservative values, but I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution — and while this is not the position I expected to be in or sought out, when duty calls, I will always answer,” Kinzinger added.

In May, Cheney was ejected from her position as GOP conference chair, the No. 3 position in House Republican leadership, for criticizing former President Donald Trump’s lies about election fraud. Kinzinger has also been critical of Trump in the same vein.

Pelosi commended Kinzinger’s commitment to the country, citing his military service as an Air Force veteran and lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard.

“He brings great patriotism to the Committee’s mission: to find the facts and protect our Democracy,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy’s choices for the select committee — Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio — a move that led McCarthy to pull his other three picks, whom Pelosi had accepted: GOP Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Troy Nehls of Texas.

As a result, the panel, which was established to have 13 members, will have nine. The seven Democrats Pelosi chose are the chairman, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi; Reps. Adam B. Schiff, Zoe Lofgren and Pete Aguilar, all of California; and Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Elaine Luria of Virginia and Stephanie Murphy of Florida.

“Speaker Pelosi’s rejection of the Republican nominees to serve on the committee and self-appointment of members who share her pre-conceived narrative will not yield a serious investigation,” McCarthy said in a statement after Kinzinger’s appointment was announced.

McCarthy opposed a bipartisan, independent 9/11-style commission to investigate Jan. 6, which eventually was blocked by Republicans in the Senate on a procedural vote.

Former Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., is also being considered as a potential senior adviser on the committee, according to a source familiar with the situation. Riggleman met last week with Pelosi’s staff and select committee staff.

Banks, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, told "Fox News Sunday" that Pelosi did not want divergent views on the select panel.

“It’s clear that Pelosi only wants members on this committee who will stick to her talking points and stick to her narrative,” Banks said.

Before he found out on Twitter that Pelosi had blocked him from the panel, Banks said he was meeting with Gus Papathanasiou, the leader of the Capitol Police union, and wanted Papathanasiou to testify.

“We were prepared to ask questions that no one else has asked and demand answers as to why the Capitol was vulnerable to an attack on Jan. 6,” Banks said. “Why was there a systemic breakdown of security at the Capitol on Jan. 6?”

Banks, who would have been the top Republican on the Select Committee, had been planning to focus attention on Pelosi’s role in Capitol security.

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, has more control and authority and responsibility over the leadership of the Capitol Police than anyone else in the United States Capitol,” Banks said. “So she doesn’t want us to ask these questions because at the end of the day, she is ultimately responsible for the breakdown of security at the Capitol that happened on Jan. 6.”

The Capitol Police Board oversees the department. It has three voting members — the House sergeant-at-arms, the Senate sergeant-at-arms and the architect of the Capitol. The Speaker selects the House sergeant-at-arms, the majority leader of the Senate chooses the Senate sergeant-at-arms and the president appoints the architect of the Capitol.

At the time of the insurrection, Michael Stenger was the Senate sergeant-at-arms (appointed by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.) and Paul D. Irving was the House sergeant-at-arms (chosen by former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio). Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton, who has kept his role, was nominated by former President Donald Trump.

The speaker, third in line for the presidency, is the most powerful position in the legislative branch and when Pelosi called for the resignation of former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund after the events of Jan. 6, he did so quickly.

Banks was offended by Pelosi’s decision to block him from serving on the panel, a source familiar with his thinking said. Banks is a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan and sits on the Armed Services Committee.

Banks and Jordan are both skilled in front of the camera. Not having McCarthy’s picks to counter Democrats at the upcoming public hearings is a missed opportunity, the source said.

“We miss the opportunity to push back on live TV against Democrats’ narrative. But in a single stroke, Pelosi proved that she wants to tightly control the narrative and she isn’t interested in the truth,” the source added.