Thompson, D. Miss., said the committee wants to "set the tone” for the investigation by hearing directly from the first responders. Many of these people were verbally and brutally abused by Trump supporters. They pushed past law enforcement to break into the Capitol to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
Thompson spoke out about the officers and said that they needed to hear their feelings. He also asked The Associated Press what the people who broke into Capitol told them.
He stated that the panel members held a strategy session this week and wanted to make it clear that they were serious about the topic. They also want to show that they care about the "those who secure or clean the Capitol."
Thompson stated that the select committee has been planning to hold the hearing on July 19, which will be a dramatic curtain raiser for the new investigation. A growing number of police officers responding to the attack, including members from the U.S. Capitol Police Department and Washington's Metropolitan Police Department have been lobbying Congress for an independent, bipartisan investigation into the insurrection. However, that proposal was blocked at the Senate by Senate Republicans. They have been able to pressure Republicans to tell their stories and many watched as the House voted to create the select committee along party lines.
Two Senate committees already have investigated the attack and made security suggestions, but they didn't examine the source of the siege. This left many questions unanswered.
Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, has appointed eight members of the select committee. They include seven Democrats and Liz Cheney (Republican from Wyoming). Kevin McCarthy, Republican Leader, has the discretion to make five more appointments. However, Pelosi must approve them.
McCarthy has yet to say who he will appoint, or whether Republicans will participate in the probe. Many are loyal to Trump. Some tried to downplay the insurrection, and deny that there were political motives behind it.
Thompson stated that the panel is open to Republican members. However, they will continue moving forward even if McCarthy declines to take part. The rules of the committee state that the eight Pelosi members will suffice to provide a working majority. He stated that the committee's efforts will not be diminished by the absence of GOP participation.
He stated, "As chair, I have the responsibility to keep the committee moving forward and make sure that any deflections that arise do not hinder the work of that committee." "And that is what I intend to do."
Thompson stated that the main focus of the investigations would be to determine why the systems in place on that day failed. This could include why the police and military were not more present, why they were delayed while the police were overwhelmed quickly, and why critical intelligence that predicted the attack was missing.
It is expected that the panel will also investigate any links between some rioters and white supremacist organizations. Thompson stated that Christopher Wray, FBI Director, had assessed that white supremacy and racially motivated violence extremism were the greatest threats to U.S security. This "tells me that this committee's work has as much significance as it can get."
Thompson didn't say whether Trump will be called to testify before the panel, but said that "I don’t think anyone is off limits."
Thompson stated that he will use the subpoena authority of the panel "to the maximum extent permitted by law" if witnesses object.
He stated that the panel will be hiring professionals who have the experience and skills to sort through large amounts of data and that their work will continue throughout the summer break. He told his colleagues at the strategy session that no matter what recess you planned for August, it might be necessary to reevaluate it.
Thompson stated that the committee is still deliberating on how much of its work will remain behind closed doors. Thompson explained that some witnesses might not wish to testify publicly and some information may be classified or sensitive.
He stated that there would be no predetermined conclusions on the timing of the work of this committee.
Thompson stated that there is no timetable. Thompson stated that the committee's goal is to investigate as thoroughly as possible, but to also be flexible enough to recognize that things may change.