Republicans condemn January 6 committee hearings

House investigatory panel to begin public hearings on Thursday in primetime television spot

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US House Republicans attempted to portray the January 6 committee as “the most political and least legitimate committee in American history” — hours before the panel is expected to deliver stunning revelations during its first primetime hearing.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy criticised the panel investigating the 2021 assault on the US Capitol for issuing subpoenas to seek information from Republicans, including from Mr McCarthy himself.

“It has permanently damaged the House and divided this country,” he said.

Mr McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, told the committee in a letter via his lawyer that he would not comply with the subpoena.

Republican leadership has often called the panel “illegitimate”, although 35 members of the party joined all Democrats in voting to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack. Republican representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger both serve on the panel as well.

Their previous backing of former president Donald Trump's impeachment and involvement in the investigation has not come without consequence, however. Ms Cheney was stripped of her leadership position within the caucus and faces a stern challenge to retain her seat.

Ms Cheney, who serves as the panel's vice chairwoman, was expected to deliver what will amount to opening arguments during the greatly anticipated hearing, which will be broadcast by all major networks apart from conservative outlet Fox News.

And Mr Kinzinger said he would not run for re-election after a redrawn Illinois map would pit him against a Republican incumbent and Trump ally.

“[House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi's sham committee is illegitimate and its sole purpose is to punish Democrats political opponents,” said Elise Stefanik, who replaced Ms Cheney as House Republican Chair.

Ms Pelosi has often been the target of Republican attacks, particularly after she refused to name Trump hardliners Jim Jordan and Jim Banks to the House panel. Mr McCarthy and other figures in the Republican leadership have attempted to pin the Capitol's security failings on her.

On January 6, 2021, thousands of Mr Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol and assaulted police in an attempt to decertify President Joe Biden's electoral victory. Five people died in the violence, including one police officer, and several officers died by suicide after the attack.

The committee has interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses during its year-long investigation — including members of Mr Trump's family — and has pored over more than 90,000 documents.

The looming midterm elections and probable threat of Republicans retaking the House has prompted the panel to work at breakneck speed in its efforts to link Mr Trump's plots to overturn the election to the riot.

Though it cannot pass legislation, the panel is likely to make legislative suggestions to Congress so that the events of January 6 cannot be repeated.

Updated: November 16, 2022, 11:19 AM