Jul 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Cheney: Causes of Jan. 6 riot "will remain a cancer" without investigation

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Tuesday called for the "full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation" of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, warning that it will "remain a cancer on our constitutional republic" if left uninvestigated.

Why it matters: Despite not being the chair or ranking member, Cheney was asked to deliver an opening statement at the first hearing of the Jan. 6 select committee to show that the investigation will be bipartisan — despite Republican leadership's refusal to participate.

What they're saying: "I have been a conservative Republican since 1984 when I first voted for Ronald Reagan. I have disagreed sharply on policy and politics with almost every Democratic member of this committee. But in the end, we are one nation under God," Cheney, who was removed from House GOP leadership in May over her criticism of former President Trump and his election lies, said in her opening statement.

  • "We must know what happened here at the Capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during and after the attack," Cheney said.
  • "If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our Constitutional Republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system."

Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who also chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said during his opening statement that the panel is "going to be guided solely by the facts."

  • "There’s no place for politics or partisanship in this investigation. Our only charge is to follow the facts where they lead us," Thompson said.
  • "Some people are trying to deny what happened. To whitewash it. To turn the insurrectionists into martyrs. But the whole world saw the reality of what happened on Jan. 6."

The other side: House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy held a preemptive press conference earlier on Tuesday, where he sought to blame Speaker Nancy Pelosi for security failures on Jan. 6.

  • Asked whether he stood by his statement on Jan. 6 that Trump "bears responsibility" for inciting the attack, McCarthy refused to answer.
  • Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) will hold a separate press conference at 1pm ET to condemn the Justice Department's prosecution of the Capitol rioters.

The big picture: Four police officers will testify before the nine-member panel on Tuesday and go into detail on what they personally experienced.

  • They will also be pressed by committee members on their preparedness, following a Senate report that revealed a series of failures from Capitol Police leadership in the weeks leading up to the insurrection.
  • Committee members plan to show graphic footage from Jan. 6. to make clear how violent the events were, and to leave viewers with no doubt that what happened was a vicious attack on American democracy.

What to watch: Cheney told ABC's "Good Morning America" earlier Tuesday that the committee could potentially subpoena Trump, McCarthy, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Trump allies who may have information about Jan. 6.

  • The Justice Department notified former Trump administration officials that they would be permitted to testify to the various committees investigating the Capitol riots and that the agency will not assert executive privilege, the New York Times reports.
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