Pelosi picks three Californians for House Jan. 6 probe

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) has included three fellow Californians among her eight choices of members to serve on the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Pelosi selected Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson to lead the committee, which was created by the House on Wednesday.

He will be joined by California Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands), as well as Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.).

“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.

Several of the members chosen by Pelosi for the panel either lead or are members of other House committees that have already held hearings related to the attack and spoke about how they would bring what they had learned in those hearings to the Jan. 6 investigation. Republicans argued this week that a new panel was not necessary because other investigations were already taking place.

“The focus of this is on seeking the truth,” Aguilar said.

Several, including Schiff, Lofgren and Raskin, were also involved in prosecuting the impeachment trials of former President Trump.

Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the intelligence community has “not been able to get sufficient answers” about Jan. 6 and he hopes the new committee will “put pressure” on agencies to get answers. Lofgren, who leads the House Administration Committee, said the hearings held by her panel focused on the reaction to the attack and not what spurred it. Still unclear, she said, is who organized them.

“We need to find that out to keep the country safe,” she said.

Several news outlets reported that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) told Republican representatives that if they agreed to Pelosi’s request to join the committee, he would strip them of their committee assignments. Pelosi would not answer questions about McCarthy’s stance. McCarthy denied in a separate press conference Thursday that he had made such a threat. He said he was “shocked” that Cheney would accept a committee assignment from the speaker without speaking to him.

The bill creating the committee allows McCarthy to name five members of the committee, in consultation with Pelosi.

House rules give the speaker authority over all committee assignments. In practice, though, the minority party makes recommendations for committee assignments for their party, and the speaker generally accepts them. McCarthy did not name his members of the committee Thursday.

Speaking to reporters, Thompson encouraged McCarthy to make his recommendations for committee members soon, noting that the eight to five balance of the committee means Democrats don’t have to wait if he doesn’t move swiftly.

“If he chooses not to, we still have a quorum for the committee that will go forward,” Thompson said.

Cheney was ousted from Republican leadership this spring in part because she criticized Trump and his role repeating the lie that the election was stolen from him. She was not present at Pelosi‘s news conference but said in a statement she was honored to be chosen. She was one of two Republicans who voted in favor of creating the committee.

The Jan. 6 attack occurred while Congress was certifying the 2020 presidential election results, as required by the Constitution. Vice President Mike Pence and hundreds of lawmakers fled as thousands of people grappled with police, broke windows and forced their way into the Capitol building. Five people died, and two police officers died by suicide following the violence. At least 140 officers were injured, some permanently.

More than 500 people have been arrested on charges including conspiracy and unlawful entry.