Liz Cheney signs up to be lone Republican on Jan. 6 commission despite warning from Kevin McCarthy

"Who gives a shit," said one House Republican following House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's threat on Thursday

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published July 1, 2021 1:28PM (EDT)

Kevin McCarthy and Liz Cheney | Capitol Riot (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Kevin McCarthy and Liz Cheney | Capitol Riot (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., appeared to suggest to members of his caucus on Thursday that he will not assign them committee assignments if they join the select commission set up by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to investigate the Capitol riot. 

Despite McCarthy's threat, broken by both CNN and Punchbowl News, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., one of just two Republicans along with Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois to have voted with Democrats on Wednesday to establish the committee, announced that she will serve on the commission. 

Pelosi's select panel follows her previous effort to put together a bipartisan commission to probe the riot, an effort that was ultimately dismantled by the Senate GOP, many of whose members claimed that panel amounted to a political stunt. 

On Wednesday, McCarthy apparently held a closed-door meeting where he claimed that he – not Pelosi – has authority over Republicans' committee assignments. If any Republicans join Pelosi's commission, he said, "they better be ready to get all their committee assignments from her."

Pelosi has made clear that the House minority leader can help fill five of the panel's slots "in consultation" with her, meaning that she could shoot down his nominations. Despite Pelosi's seeming appeal to bipartisanship, McCarthy told CNN that Pelosi's latest effort seems "pretty political to me."

"Who gives a shit?" Kinzinger said of McCarthy's threat to Politico on Thursday. 

Back in May, McCarthy led a successful charge to remove Cheney from her leadership role as GOP conference chair over her lack of fealty to Donald Trump. Rep. Cheney was swiftly replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who has quickly fallen into Trump's good graces. In February, Kinzinger was similarly censured by his party for speaking negatively of Trump's crusade to overturn the 2020 election results. 

"I do think the threat of removing committees is ironic, because you won't go after the space lasers and white supremacist people but those who tell the truth," Kinzinger said on Thursday, blasting McCarthy. 

He added: "When you've got people that say crazy stuff and you're not gonna make that threat, to make the threat the truth tellers, you've lost, you know any credibility and then so that's all I'm gonna say on it."

Asked whether he'd serve on Pelosi's panel, Kinzinger told a local TV station: "It's not necessarily anything I look forward to doing, but if I thought my voice was needed to get to the bottom of it, it would be something I would be open to."

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, was charged with leading the Jan. 6 panel. Other appointments include Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Jamie Raskin, D-Md.,  and Elaine Luria, D-Va.

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

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1/6 Commission Brief Capitol Riot January 6 Mccarthy Pelosi Strip