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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attends her weekly news conference at the US Capitol in Washington January 15, 2021. — Reuters pic
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attends her weekly news conference at the US Capitol in Washington January 15, 2021. — Reuters pic

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WASHINGTON, July 26 — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday named an outspoken Republican critic of former president Donald Trump to join the committee probing the January 6 US Capitol insurrection, two days ahead of its first hearings.

The top Democrat in Congress announced the appointment of Representative Adam Kinzinger, who voted to impeach Trump over the riot, in a statement hailing the “great patriotism” he would bring to the panel’s mission “to find the facts and protect our democracy.” 

Hundreds of Trump’s supporters, many associated with ultra-nationalist and white supremacist groups, stormed the US legislature six months ago in an effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory. 

They had been egged on by Trump, whose fiery speech earlier that day falsely claiming election fraud was the culmination of months of baseless claims about a contest he lost fairly to Biden.

A comfortable majority of 57 senators — including seven from his own party — voted to convict Trump after he was impeached by the House for inciting the riot, although this fell short of the two-thirds majority required under Senate rules to unseat a president.     

“Let me be clear, I’m a Republican dedicated to conservative values, but I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. And while this is not the position I expected to be in or sought out, when duty calls, I will always answer,” Kinzinger said in a statement.

“This moment requires a serious, clear-eyed, non-partisan approach. We are duty-bound to conduct a full investigation on the worst attack on the Capitol since 1814 and to make sure it can never happen again.”

Credibility

After Kinzinger was named on Sunday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy issued a statement slamming Pelosi’s appointment of those who “share her pre-conceived narrative” and said the committee “will not yield a serious investigation.”

“The Speaker has structured this select committee to satisfy her political objectives… Speaker Pelosi’s departure from this serious-minded approach has destroyed the select committee’s credibility,” he said. 

Earlier this week McCarthy withdrew the five Republicans he had appointed to the panel after Pelosi took the rare step of rejecting congressmen Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, out of what she said was concern for the investigation’s integrity.

Hours after the attack on the Capitol, both were among several Republicans who voted in line with the apparent objective of the rioters — to block certification of the election results in several key states won by Biden.

“The two that I would not appoint are people who would jeopardize the integrity of the investigation and there’s no way I would tolerate their antics as we seek the truth,” Pelosi said in the ABC interview Sunday.

She had earlier made it clear the move was prompted by several statements and actions by the pair since the riot, rather than their vote against certification.

Pelosi’s Democrats had sought a united effort in investigating the riot via a bipartisan, independent 9/11-style commission but it was blocked by the Republicans.

Pelosi said however that Republicans other than Kinzinger had “expressed an interest to serve on the select committee.”

She has already appointed congresswoman Liz Cheney who, with Kinzinger, was among 10 Republicans in the House who voted to impeach Trump.

The first hearing of the commission, which has the power to subpoena witnesses and documents, is scheduled for Tuesday. — AFP

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