WASHINGTON (AP) — A new House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol is expected to hold its first public hearing this month with police officers who responded to the attack and custodial staff who cleaned up afterward, chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson said Friday.
Thompson, D-Miss., says the committee hopes to “set the tone” of the investigation by hearing from those first responders, many of whom were brutally beaten and verbally abused by former President Donald Trump’s supporters as they pushed past law enforcement and broke into the Capitol to interrupt the certification of President Biden’s victory.
Referring to the police officers, Thompson told The Associated Press in an interview, “We need to hear how they felt, we need to hear what people who broke into the Capitol said to them.”
He said the members of the panel, who held an initial strategy session this week, want to frame that first hearing so that it is clear that they are serious, and also that they care about “those individuals who either secure the Capitol or clean the Capitol.”
Thompson said the select committee is eyeing the week of July 19 for the hearing, which is likely to be a dramatic curtain-raiser for the new investigation. An increasing number of police officers who responded to the attack, including members of the U.S. Capitol Police and Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, have lobbied for Congress to launch an independent, bipartisan investigation of the insurrection, but that proposal was blocked by Senate Republicans. The officers have pressured Republicans who have downplayed the violence to listen to their stories, and several watched from the gallery last week as the House voted on party lines to form the select committee.
Two Senate committees have already investigated the attack and made security recommendations, but they did not examine the origins of the siege, leaving many unanswered questions.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has appointed eight members to the select committee, including seven Democrats and Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming. Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has discretion over five additional appointments, though Pelosi must approve them.
McCarthy has not yet said who he will appoint or if Republicans will even participate in the probe, as many are still loyal to Trump. Thompson said the panel welcomes Republican members, but will be moving ahead even if McCarthy chooses not to participate.