By Annie Grayer and Ryan Nobles, CNN
The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, Capitol Hill insurrection holds its first prime-time public hearing on Thursday and is expected to give an overview of their findings from the past year.
The hearings are expected to shine a spotlight on the nine-member committee, which features seven Democrats and two Republicans. Here’s who they are:
Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi is the chairman of the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack. Thompson also serves as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, the first ever Democrat to hold the position.
As chairman of the Homeland Security panel, Thompson introduced and oversaw the House’s passage of the legislative recommendations after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Thompson is a civil rights pioneer who started his political career by registering fellow African Americans to vote in the segregated South. His first political victory was being elected the first Black mayor of his hometown of Bolton, Mississippi. He is the only Democrat serving in Mississippi’s delegation.
Thompson views the work of the January 6 committee in the same vein as his work in the civil rights struggle.
“Our democracy is at stake,” he told CNN. “We have to defend our democracy. We have to defend our government.”
GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming serves as the vice chairwoman on the committee. Cheney is one of two Republicans on the panel appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled all five of his selections because Pelosi would not accept two of his picks.
Cheney has been an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump and was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach him. House Republicans have punished her for her public opposition to Trump by removing her as their party’s conference chairwoman in May of last year and she faces a Trump-endorsed challenger in the GOP primary in her reelection bid. That primary is in August.
Cheney told CBS in an interview that aired over the weekend that she believes the January 6 attack was a conspiracy, saying when asked, “I do. It is extremely broad. It’s extremely well organized. It’s really chilling.”
She has even gone as far to say that Trump’s inaction to intervene as the attack unfolded was a “dereliction of duty.”
Rep. Adam Schiff is a Democrat from California. Schiff also serves as the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
He was the lead impeachment manager representing Democrats during Trump’s first impeachment trial.
“January 6 will be remembered as one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. Yet, more than a year later, the threat to our democracy is as grave as ever. January 6 was not a day in isolation, but the violent culmination of multiple efforts to overturn the last presidential election and interfere with the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our history,” Schiff said in a statement to CNN.
“The former President and his allies have spent every day since January 6 attempting to rewrite history about that bloody attack on our nation’s Capitol. That’s why these public hearings are so essential — to show the American people exactly how January 6 came about, who is responsible, and most critically, what we can and must do to prevent another attack on our democracy.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin is a Democrat from Maryland who previously served as the lead impeachment manager for Democrats during Trump’s second impeachment trial.
In the days before the Capitol insurrection, Raskin announced the death by suicide of his 25-year-old son, Tommy, on New Years Eve 2020. Raskin reflected on the tragic loss of his son, and his experience living through the attack on the Capitol, in his book “Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth and the Trials of American Democracy.”
Raskin said that becoming the lead House impeachment manager last year served as a “lifeline” in the aftermath of his son’s death, describing to David Axelrod on “The Axe Files” podcast how Pelosi asked him to lead the second impeachment managers.
“And then she said, ‘And I’d like you to be the lead impeachment manager,’ and I also agreed to that immediately, but I realized soon thereafter, she had thrown me a lifeline, because I wasn’t sure if I could ever do anything again,” Raskin to Axelrod.
Rep. Elaine Luria is a Democrat from the Virginia Beach area who represents a community with a significant number of constituents connected to the military. Luria is a Navy Veteran. She served 20 years as an officer on Navy ships, retiring as a commander. She has attributed her military background as part of her motivation for serving on the January 6 committee and getting to the bottom of what happened on that day.
Of the nine members of the committee, Luria is facing the toughest general election in the fall midterms. Her district, already considered to be competitive, became more Republican leaning after redistricting. While other members of the committee, like Rep. Stephanie Murphy and Rep. Adam Kinzinger decided against running for reelection, Luria has embraced the challenge. She announced her plans to run for a third term on January 6, 2022, at the exact minute she and her staff were forced to evacuate her office because of a pipe bomb threat.
“I hope that people learn just how fragile our democracy is and how close we were to losing it on January 6. If certain people were not in the right places on January 6, we would be looking at a very different scenario and possibly a different country,” Luria said about the importance of the upcoming hearings.
Rep. Pete Aguilar is a Democrat from Southern California. Before coming to Congress, he served as the mayor of Redlands, California.
Aguilar is considered a rising star in the House Democratic Caucus. As vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus he is the highest-ranking Latino member in congressional leadership.
In addition to his role on the January 6 committee, Aguilar has several high-profile committee assignments. He also a member of the committees on Appropriations and House Administration.
Aguilar believes the committee’s most important job is creating a full, comprehensive record of what led to the violence of January 6.
“We are going to give the American public a full accounting of what happened the day of the violent attack on the US Capitol, an attack which sought to overturn the will of the voters and led to the deaths of five police officers,” he said. “These hearings will lay out the facts in a way that’s informative, accessible and compelling. I hope that this can be a moment for the country to come together and rally around our shared values. Those responsible for the violent attack must be held accountable.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren is also a Democrat from California who served as an impeachment manager in the first impeachment trial against Trump. Lofgren is also chair of the Committee on House Administration. Lofgren was first elected to Congress in 1994. She also served as a staffer on Capitol Hill for eight years.
Lofgren has a background as an immigration lawyer and has made reforming immigration law a key part of her portfolio as a member of Congress. She also represents a big part of the Silicon Valley and as a result has had a heavy focus on tech related issues.
She is a long-time ally and friend to Pelosi. The duo has served in the California Congressional delegation together for close to three decades and both represent different parts of the bay area in Northern California.
Rep. Stephanie Murphy is a Democrat from Florida. Murphy is the first Vietnamese American woman elected to Congress. Before serving in Congress, Murphy was a national security specialist in the office of the US Secretary of Defense.
Murphy said the challenge for committee members is to translate the mountains of information learned through the investigation into a digestible narrative for the American people.
“The Select Committee has obtained a vast amount of testimony and documents,” Murphy said in a statement to CNN.
“Our goal — and our challenge — is to use the public hearings to distill this information down to its essence, to tell an accurate and easy-to-understand story about why January 6th happened, and to provide some concrete recommendations about how our country can prevent something like it from happening again. Our audience are Americans across the political spectrum who are committed to securing our democratic institutions and processes.”
Murphy announced in December 2021 that she would not be seeking reelection.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois is one of two Republicans on the committee and broke with his party by accepting the appointment from Pelosi.
Kinzinger, once thought to have a bright future in GOP politics, has taken heavy criticism from his colleagues because of his criticism of Trump. He has placed much of the blame of inciting the violence that day on Trump and his allies.
Kinzinger is one of 10 Republicans who voted twice to impeach Trump after the Capitol insurrection. He also voted for the bipartisan independent commission to investigate the riot.
His willingness to take on Trump led to the former President personally promising to back a primary opponent. Instead of facing the prospect of a Trump back challenge, he chose to retire from Congress at the end of his current term.
Kinzinger served as a pilot in the United States Air Force. He flew missions into Iraq and Afghanistan and was stationed in Iraq on two different occasions. He is currently a Lt. Colonel in the Air National Guard. While Kinzinger’s time in the House of Representatives may be coming to an end, he has teased a future political run and recently launched a national leadership PAC to raise money to support like-minded candidates and causes.
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