Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, issued a defiant challenge to her own party on Tuesday as a special House committee began its inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, saying that the riot would remain a “cancer on our constitutional republic” if Congress failed to hold accountable those who were responsible.
In stern opening remarks, Ms. Cheney, one of just two House Republicans willing to serve on the panel, dared her colleagues to support a full investigation into the worst attack on Congress in centuries.
“Will we be so blinded by partisanship that we throw away the miracle of America?” Ms. Cheney asked. “Do we hate our political adversaries more than we love our country and revere our Constitution?”
Her remarks underscored just how isolated she has become in her own party as one of the few Republicans willing to speak out against President Donald J. Trump and his role in inspiring the attack on the Capitol. Ms. Cheney, the daughter of a powerful conservative family, has already been ousted from Republican leadership for her insistence on calling out the former president and his election lies, and her participation in the inquiry has drawn scorn from party leaders.
Ms. Cheney focused her remarks on Tuesday on the former president’s role, urging lawmakers to find out “what happened every minute of that day in the White House.”
“Every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during and after the attack,” Ms. Cheney said.
Hoping to move past horrific political optics and fearful of invoking Mr. Trump’s wrath, just 35 Republicans in the House supported the creation of an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the attack. Only Ms. Cheney and Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who is also serving on the select committee in defiance of his party, supported the creation of the panel led by lawmakers.
Mr. Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran and lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard, grew visibly emotional during his remarks on Tuesday, choking back tears as he angrily condemned conservative “counter narratives” and conspiracy theories designed to undercut the gravity of the Jan. 6 attack.
“Many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight,” Mr. Kinzinger said. “It’s toxic and it’s a disservice to the officers and their families.”
Republican leaders are boycotting the proceedings, after Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to seat two of the five lawmakers they had recommended, citing their statements backing Mr. Trump’s false election claims, equating the riot to racial justice protests and disparaging the investigation.
“I’m here to investigate January 6 not in spite of my membership in the Republican Party, but because of it,” Mr. Kinzinger said. “Not to win a political fight, but to learn the facts and defend our democracy.”