There are nine members of Congress on the House select committee that is scrutinizing the causes of the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. They are:
Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi
Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California
Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California
Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois
Representative Pete Aguilar, Democrat of California
Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming
Representative Stephanie Murphy, Democrat of Florida
Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland
Representative Elaine Luria, Democrat of Virginia
Mr. Thompson is the committee’s chairman, with Ms. Cheney serving as the vice chairwoman. The committee’s day-to-day work is carried out by a team of 40 investigators and staff members, including former federal prosecutors.
On June 30, 2021, the House voted mostly along party lines to create the select committee, which was established at the behest of Speaker Nancy Pelosi after Senate Republicans blocked the formation of a bipartisan independent commission to scrutinize the assault.
The measure to create the panel passed by a vote of 222 to 190, with only two Republicans — Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — joining Democrats to support it.
The House select committee, which has the power to subpoena testimony and documents, is investigating what its organizing resolution calls “the facts, circumstances and causes relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack.” The panel will write a comprehensive report and propose recommendations, including possible legislation, to try to make sure the events of Jan. 6 are never repeated.
The committee does not have the authority to pursue criminal charges, though it can make referrals to the Justice Department. A criminal referral from Congress would merely be a recommendation for the Justice Department to investigate a case. It would carry no legal weight, since Congress has no authority to tell federal prosecutors what charges to pursue. But given that the committee’s staff is led by a bipartisan pair of former U.S. attorneys, any recommendation they make would most likely be taken seriously by federal prosecutors, who could then pursue charges.
While the House committee has no law enforcement role, the Justice Department is pursuing a criminal inquiry into the events leading up to the assault on the Capitol and the role played by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies as they sought to keep him in office after the 2020 election. The Justice Department’s investigation has been operating separately from the House committee’s work.
The Justice Department’s investigation initially focused on the rioters who had entered the Capitol on Jan. 6. This effort has led to the prosecution of more than 800 people on charges related to the storming of the Capitol. But according to people familiar with the matter, federal prosecutors have substantially widened their inquiry to examine the possible culpability of a broad range of figures involved in Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and a grand jury sitting in Washington is investigating the rallies that preceded the riot.
This federal inquiry is seen as a test for Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and President Biden, who both came into office promising to restore the independence and reputation of the Justice Department, which Mr. Trump had tried to weaponize for political gain. Mr. Garland has vowed that the department would pursue wrongdoing “at any level” in its investigation.
The House select committee has interviewed more than 1,000 people as part of its inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack, and there are several key people of interest in the investigation.
Notable figures who have testified before the committee include Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer; Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter who served as one of his senior advisers; and Marc Short, who was chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence.
The Justice Department is said to have asked the House committee for transcripts of interviews it has conducted behind closed doors, including some with associates of Mr. Trump. The transcripts could be used by the department as evidence in potential criminal cases, to pursue new leads or as a baseline for new interviews conducted by federal law enforcement officials.
The House select committee has issued more than 100 subpoenas for testimony and documents as part of its inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack.
The list of those subpoenaed includes Republican members of Congress, former Trump White House officials, outside allies of Mr. Trump and far-right figures. The committee has also issued broad subpoenas to banks, as well as telecommunications and social media companies.
Several individuals have refused to comply with the committee’s subpoenas, including Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader. The House has voted in favor of charging some of those who have refused to comply with criminal contempt of Congress, such as Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s final chief of staff who initially agreed to cooperate with the investigation and provided the panel with a trove of documents. The Justice Department indicted two former aides to Mr. Trump — Stephen K. Bannon and Peter Navarro — on charges of contempt for refusing to comply, but declined to prosecute Mr. Meadows or Dan Scavino Jr., another top aide to Mr. Trump.
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is holding a series of public hearings to reveal its findings. The hearings, which started on June 9, are expected to take place over several weeks.
Although the panel is bipartisan, Democrats plan to use the hearings to highlight Republicans’ links to the Capitol rioters, culminating in a final report to be delivered a few weeks before Election Day in November. Democrats hope to use made-for-television moments and a carefully choreographed rollout of revelations to remind the public of the magnitude of Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election, and to persuade voters that the coming midterm elections are a chance to hold Republicans accountable for it.