The special congressional committee investigating the Capitol attack of Jan. 6 will hold its first hearing on July 27, Democratic leaders announced Wednesday.
The much-anticipated public hearing will feature testimony from police officers who defended the Capitol complex from the pro-Trump mob attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The extraordinary episode prompted House Democrats, joined by 10 Republicans, to impeach Trump just a week later for inciting the violence. And last month, the House created the select committee to investigate the causes and security lapses surrounding the rampage.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has already named eight lawmakers to the 13-member panel: seven Democrats and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the most vocal of Trump’s Republican critics on Capitol Hill.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has the power to submit recommendations for the remaining five seats, although Pelosi has veto power over his selections.
The decision poses a dilemma for McCarthy, who has eyes on flipping control of the House in next year’s midterms and taking over the Speakership in 2023 — two objectives that grow vastly tougher without Trump’s blessing.
With that in mind, McCarthy is expected to field Trump loyalists to do battle with Cheney and the Democrats in defense of the former president. They’ll have a complicated task, however, since there are risks to the party if Republicans appear too derisive of Trump’s critics in the police corps — or too sympathetic to the rioters that stormed the Capitol and threatened the lives of lawmakers.
Publicly, McCarthy has not provided any hints about his selections or when he’ll make them. The July 27 timeline for the first hearing confronts him with a new, if informal, deadline for announcing those choices, as Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the select committee, has said the investigation will launch with or without McCarthy’s participation.
Roughly 140 law enforcement officers — representing both U.S. Capitol Police and the Washington Metropolitan Police Department — were injured during the insurrection, and many of them are furious with both department leaders, who underestimated the threat, and those Trump allies who are downplaying the violence that day.
Democrats have not announced which officers will appear before the select committee on July 27.
Chairing the panel is Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, who also heads the House Homeland Security Committee that has been looking into the Jan. 6 events.
Other members of the new panel include Representative Adam Schiff, who took the lead in the December 2019 impeachment of Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and Representative Jamie Raskin, the lead prosecutor in last January’s second impeachment of Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection.
In both cases, the Senate did not convict Trump.
The special committee, which will have subpoena power, could keep questions alive about Trump’s activities on Jan. 6 and possibly complicate Republicans’ efforts to win majority control of the House in the 2022 congressional elections.