Republican open to joining Democratic-led probe of U.S. Capitol attack

imageWorld30 minutes ago (Jun 30, 2021 02:20PM ET)

(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pro-Trump protesters storm into the U.S. Capitol during clashes with police, during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of the most prominent Republican critics of former President Donald Trump in the U.S. House of Representatives, said on Wednesday he is open to joining a Democratic-led probe of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The House on Wednesday is due to vote to create a select committee to probe the deadly violence of Jan. 6 after Senate Republicans in May blocked an independent commission to investigate the assault.

Hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the building that day in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election win. The violence left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer.

Democrats want the panel to probe “why Jan. 6 happened, who was responsible for Jan. 6 happening, and what can we do to prevent a Jan. 6 insurrection from happening again?” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said.

Republicans leaders have not said whether the party will participate, but recommended voting against creation of the committee, saying it was likely to pursue a partisan agenda.

Kinzinger, who was among a handful of Republicans who voted earlier this year to impeach Trump for inciting the riot, said he would vote for creating the panel and was open to serving on it.

“I’ll be voting for this today. It’s not my favorite option, but the point is, we can’t keep pretending like Jan. 6 didn’t happen,” he told Fox32 Wednesday. “We just need answers. We need to know whether members of Congress, members of the administration, that were involved in coordinating this.”

Kinzinger was also among 35 House Republicans who voted in May for an outside commission whose members would have been evenly divided between the political parties – unlike the current proposal, which gives Democrats a clear 8-5 advantage. Senate Republicans blocked the plan for the outside commission.

Leading Republicans have argued that existing committee probes as well as prosecutors’ investigations make an outside commission or a select committee unnecessary. More than 500 people have been charged with taking part in the violence.

The select committee proposal calls for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to appoint the panel’s chairman and all 13 members, although five members would be selected by the speaker “after consultation with” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

This suggests Pelosi could block a Republican attempt to name someone like Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, an ally of Trump who told CNN she would like to be chosen.

An aide said Pelosi was considering a Republican among her appointees.

The resolution gives no deadline for finishing, meaning it could spill over into next year, when 2022 midterm elections will determine control of Congress.

Pelosi invited several police officers who battled the mob on Jan. 6 to sit in the House gallery during the debate, including Michael Fanone, a Washington D.C. cop who was beaten unconscious by rioters after he rushed to the Capitol to help. She also invited the mother and partner of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died a day after the violence.

The Jan. 6 panel would have subpoena power, presumably allowing it to call Trump as a witness, said Carrie Cordero, a senior fellow at the Center for New American Security think tank. However, “they’ll have to make decisions about whether they want to engage in litigation over subpoenas,” she said.

Representative John Katko, a Republican who helped broker the earlier failed bipartisan commission proposal, denounced Pelosi’s select committee plan as “a turbocharged partisan exercise.” He has compared the proposed panel to a previous, Republican-majority House select committee on the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Republican open to joining Democratic-led probe of U.S. Capitol attack