Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney ran to CNN a few weeks ago to accuse conservative stalwart Rep. Jim Banks of falsely presenting himself as the Jan. 6 commission’s ranking member. Banks is, in fact, congressional Republicans’ choice to be their top investigator on the committee, but he has been prevented from fulfilling his duties by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
However, it’s Cheney who appears to be misrepresenting herself as the ranking member — that is, the top Republican — on the committee.
January 6 Select Committee staff have been falsely telling witnesses that Republican staff will be present for interviews, according to multiple eyewitness sources and documents. In fact, not a single Republican-appointed member of Congress nor a single staff member representing the Republican conference is part of the controversial committee.
Witnesses are being told that John Wood, a longtime friend and ally of the Cheney family, will represent Republicans when witnesses testify. But neither Cheney nor her friend is representing the Republican conference. In fact, Cheney was appointed to the committee in early July by Pelosi herself.
“John Wood works for the Democrat Party, just like Liz Cheney, who was appointed by Pelosi and is not the Ranking Member of the Select Committee. She is misleading witnesses, before they testify under penalty of law, about the motives and the position of the person questioning them,” said Banks, who has continued leading Republicans’ investigation of the federal government’s handling of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Cheney’s work with CNN was designed to prevent him from being able to gain answers to the questions the select committee was ostensibly set up to answer.
Cheney was given six days to explain whether she considers herself just the Democrat-appointed vice-chair of the committee or also the Republican ranking member, as is being represented to key witnesses. She has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
The misrepresentation to witnesses is key because the absence of any ranking member — meaning, in this case, any Republican-appointed member — or minority party staff means the committee appears to be failing to adhere to ironclad rules for its work.
Pelosi “blew up” the Jan. 6 committee when she took what she herself admitted was the “unprecedented” step of refusing to seat multiple Republican-appointed members, including the highly respected Navy officer and Indiana Republican Banks, who was to be the committee’s ranking member. She also banned Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who currently serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
Pelosi chose two of her key Republican allies and anti-Trump obsessives to fill two of her slots for the committee. As such, they do not represent the Republican conference, which opposed their selection, but the Democrat conference, which supported their selection.
Cheney was promoted to vice-chair in September in thanks for her stalwart work on Pelosi’s behalf. Cheney, who has been censured by Wyoming Republicans for working against Republican voters and their interests, and who lost her position as House Conference chair for hijacking multiple briefings for Republican policy initiatives to talk about her personal vendetta against Trump, is facing precipitously low poll numbers and a challenge from popular Republican Harriet Hageman.
Cheney was joined by lame-duck Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who recently announced his retirement rather than facing certain defeat from Illinois constituents who don’t share his anti-Trump obsession. Kinzinger was appointed by Pelosi in late July to make the committee appear more bipartisan after she’d vetoed Banks and Jordan. Cheney, her selection for vice-chair, was brought in for the sole purpose of helping Democrats with their tribunal.
The resolution establishing the committee, purportedly to investigate the federal government’s role in detecting, preventing, preparing for, and responding to the Jan. 6 riot, says depositions taken by the select committee must follow House rules.
Those rules clearly state, “Consultation with the ranking minority member shall include three days’ notice before any deposition.” Also, “A deposition shall be conducted by any member or committee counsel designated by the chair or ranking minority member of the Committee that noticed the deposition. When depositions are conducted by committee counsel, there shall be no more than two committee counsel permitted to question a witness per round. One of the committee counsel shall be designated by the chair and the other by the ranking minority member per round.”
Additionally, the rules say, “Deposition questions shall be propounded in rounds. The length of each round shall not exceed 60 minutes per side and shall provide equal time to the majority and the minority. In each round, the member(s) or committee counsel designated by the chair shall ask questions first, and the member(s) or committee counsel designated by the ranking minority member shall ask questions second.”
The point of these rules is to structure depositions so the minority and the majority counsel have the same opportunity to question witnesses and gather information for their separate reports. That’s why they rotate and why they’re allotted equal time. Having questions alternate from one hostile lawyer to another hostile lawyer who is working with the first makes a mockery of the provisions. It also means that the hostile lawyers can coordinate and cherry-pick which information to leak or publish, and which to conceal from the public because it contradicts their preferred narrative.
The rules do not envision the circumstances that accompany Pelosi’s uni-party select committee. The House Rules “become nonsensical in a situation like this,” said one congressional aide, adding, “This isn’t just a partisan investigation — it’s a coverup.”
For the select committee to be in accordance with the rules regarding consultation for depositions, Cheney must be considered simultaneously the ranking member for the minority party while also being the vice-chair for the majority party.
Hill lawyers say Pelosi’s handling of the committee casts doubt on its adherence to the rules. Because she vetoed the ranking member from the committee, it has no ranking member. But the committee rules require consultation with the ranking member before taking certain basic actions, such as taking depositions, including those pursuant to subpoenas.
“So how can you consult with the ranking member when you don’t have one?” asked one Hill attorney.
The multiple sources consulted for this article include a document which confirmed January 6 Committee staff represented to a witness that Wood would be the Republican counsel during their interview.
“If this was a real investigation, that’d land you in jail for prosecutorial misconduct,” Banks said of the false representation. “Fortunately for Liz, this is a sham investigation,” he added.
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