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LA Times: Who's who on the Jan. 6 committee? A guide to the House members at the hearings

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Washington, June 7, 2022 | comments

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the nation's Capitol will begin a series of six televised hearings on Thursday.

Much of the nine-member committee's work has been conducted behind closed doors, with lawmakers participating in the more than 1,000 depositions collected by staff and poring through thousands of pages of documents as they try to reconstruct what contributed to the riot that temporarily delayed certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

Each member is expected to lead a portion of a hearing, some of which will be held in prime time. Here are the members you'll see a lot of over the next three weeks.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.)

Thompson, the chairman of the committee, is known on Capitol Hill for his bipartisan relationships and patient but dogged demeanor. He has managed to keep the committee publicly united on the investigation and largely avoided any behind-the-scenes disagreements from becoming public, including discussions over whether to call Donald Trump to testify.

In May, Thompson said that it was unclear whether the former president would provide any new insight on the evidence already collected.

"We're not sure that the evidence that we receive can be any more validated with his presence," Thompson told Politico in mid-May. "I think the concern is whether or not he would add any more value with his testimony."

Thompson has focused on domestic terrorism and cybersecurity — particularly election security — in his 17 years as the highest-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee.

He worked for months with Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) on legislation to create an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate what led to the Jan. 6 attack, but that legislation received little Republican support in the House and died in the Senate with no support from Republicans.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.)

Cheney, the vice chairwoman of the committee, is one of two Republicans asked to serve on the panel by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) opted not to participate. Pelosi had rejected some of his initial recommendations.

Cheney was forced out of her role leading the House Republican Conference because of her public criticism of Trump's role in provoking the Jan. 6 riot and her support for the committee. She was one of only two House Republicans to vote in favor of creating the select committee. In response, Trump and his allies have endorsed and campaigned for her opponent in Wyoming.

A steadily conservative vote in Congress, and someone who backed most of Trump's positions until the Jan. 6 attack, Cheney has reportedly pushed her colleagues on the committee not to let Trump or his allies off the hook.

Cheney told "CBS Sunday Morning" that she's concerned about how multipronged the effort to keep Trump in office was.

"It is extremely broad. It's extremely well organized. It's really chilling," she said.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose)

First elected to Congress in 1994, Lofgren is a stalwart liberal vote in Congress and is both an ally of Pelosi and well respected among rank-and-file Democrats. She was one of seven House managers in Trump's first impeachment trial, and is the only House Democrat who was present for the impeachment hearings of former Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard M. Nixon.

She is chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, which oversees the Capitol Police. That committee has held several hearings on how department leaders handled the riot and the security failures that allowed more than 1,000 people to storm the building without going through normal security procedures.

"We have completed a substantial amount of work," Lofgren told the New York Times in April. "We're going to accomplish — we hope — what we set out to do, which is to tell the entire story of what happened, the events of the 6th and the events that led up to the day."

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.)

Kinzinger, the other Republican to vote to create the committee, was also asked by Pelosi to serve on the panel. Kinzinger's reputation on Capitol Hill for most of his six terms has been as a reliable conservative vote, but the veteran of the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan has lost many of his allies at home and in Washington as he emphasized his belief that Republicans needed to reject the right-wing ideology and conspiracy theories of fraud that marked the Trump administration, if the party is to survive.

"I have lost faith in some of the courage of my colleagues," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation" in February. "I thought that every person, when they swore an oath, had some version of a red line they would never cross."

Kinzinger and Cheney were both censured by the Republican National Committee for participating in the committee.

Kinzinger is not running for reelection in 2022 after being drawn into the district of another Republican incumbent when state lawmakers reapportioned congressional districts after the census.

Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands)

Aguilar, the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, is known on Capitol Hill for keeping a relatively low profile for a member of leadership. Still, as the only committee member with a scheduled weekly news conference — held Tuesday mornings after the Democratic Caucus meets — he's found himself giving periodic updates of the committee's work.

Aguilar told CNN on May 11 he believes Trump's inaction during the riot constitutes a dereliction of his duty as commander in chief.

"The president had every opportunity to walk into the press room, to tweet, to talk to the American public and to tell these insurrectionists to go home, to tell them we're going to have a peaceful transition of power," Aguilar said. "That's a hallmark of democracy. And each and every step of the way he chose not to do that."

He is also the highest-ranking Latino member of Congress. Prior to being elected in 2014, Aguilar was the mayor of Redlands.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank)

Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is best known nationally for his role as Trump's chief antagonist during the investigation led by former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and as the lead impeachment manager during Trump's first impeachment.

Schiff has been vocal that even his fellow representatives should not be immune from the Jan. 6 panel's scrutiny, especially the five Republicans subpoenaed by the committee. Schiff told CBS' "Face the Nation" this week that Americans will be surprised by new information revealed on Thursday

"Our goal is to present the narrative of what happened in this country, how close we came to losing our democracy, what led to the violence," Schiff said. "Americans I think know a great deal already — they have seen a number of bombshells already [and] there's a great deal they haven't seen. But perhaps the most important is the public has not seen it woven together, how one thing led to another."

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.)

Murphy, a leader of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, has urged her colleagues on the committee to look deeper into the events on Jan. 6 — beyond the role Trump played in contesting the election results.

"We need to look at this issue from all angles — inclusive of the role the president played as well as the security of the Capitol on that day," Murphy told the Washington Post.

Murphy was a Defense Department analyst in the administration of former President George W. Bush before serving in Congress. Though she is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, and a potential challenger to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Murphy will not run for reelection in 2022.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)

Raskin gained a big national profile as the lead House impeachment manager during the second impeachment trial of Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

He's promised explosive new information in the hearings.

"The committee has found evidence of concerted planning and premeditated activity. The idea that all of this was just a rowdy demonstration that spontaneously got a little bit out of control is absurd. You don't almost knock over the U.S. government by accident," Raskin told the Washington Post on Monday.

Raskin was a professor of constitutional law at American University for more than 25 years before taking office in 2017.

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.)

At one of the committee's few public meetings, Luria alleged that the Justice Department slow-walked charges against former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for being held in contempt of Congress after disobeying a committee subpoena.

"Atty. Gen. [Merrick] Garland, do your job so that we can do ours," she said.

The department has since told the committee it will not charge Meadows.

Luria is vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee. The former naval commander spent the majority of her two decades in service as a surface warfare officer and nuclear engineer. She has won election twice in her majority-Republican Virginia district.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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