Troubles are mounting for former US President Donald Trump as some of his fiercest critics have been included in the special congressional panel probing the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.
A total of eight members will serve on the committee to investigate the events of Jan. 6, including Republican Representative Liz Cheney, who was recently voted out of House Republican leadership over her strong criticism of Trump and his claims of election fraud.
Five people died in the deadly riot on Jan. 6, including a US Capitol police officer, after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the highly-fortified building as the Congress was busy with certification of the Electoral College votes.
Just before the attack, Trump had addressed the crowd and urged them to protest what he claimed was a rigged election. He also stoked violence with his inflammatory statements.
The divide within the Republican Party over Trump’s handling of the Jan. 6 events and its aftermath has come out in open in recent weeks, with Trump-critics being ostracized, one of them being Cheney.
“We have an obligation to have a thorough, sober investigation of what happened leading up to January 6, and the attack on the Capitol on that day," she told reporters after attending a first meeting of the newly-constituted committee on Thursday.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, miffed with Cheney’s latest move, said he was “shocked that she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi”.
Cheney was removed from her House Republican leadership position in May after she voted to impeach Trump and dismissed his claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged by Democrats.
In an interview on ABC recently, Cheney said she would do “everything necessary to make sure he (Trump) never gets anywhere close to the Oval Office again”.
The eight-member probe committee is headed by Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, who also heads the House Homeland Security Committee that has been looking into the Jan. 6 events.
Thompson said the committee would look at unanswered questions and systems that had failed, terming Jan. 6 “a devastating black eye” for his country.
He said the panel hoped to start with a hearing at which Capitol Police officers would testify, without confirming if the panel would question Trump or other former administration officials in the case.
Other panel members include Representative Adam Schiff, who spearheaded the December 2019 impeachment of Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and Representative Jamie Raskin, the main prosecutor in Trump’s impeachment over inciting an insurrection last January.
On Wednesday, the House voted to establish the special committee after Senate Republicans opposed the creation of an independent commission to probe the Jan. 6 events.
Republican leaders have resisted any special panel to investigate the Jan. 6 riot, fearing that the inquiry commission would keep public attention on violence at the US Capitol and could expose new details about Trump's handling of the Jan. 6 events that might affect the party’s chances in 2022 midterm elections.