Jan. 6 panel hires former House Republican to senior staff

A video of the Jan. 6 insurrection is displayed during the House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 27, 2021. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via AP, Pool) (Bill O'Leary, The Washington Post)

WASHINGTON – A House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol has hired former Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman as a senior staff member, bringing on the one-term Virginia lawmaker as GOP leaders have criticized the panel as too partisan.

The committee's chairman, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, announced Riggleman's hiring Friday evening, saying Riggleman has a “deep background in national security and intelligence matters.” Riggleman served in military intelligence and worked at the National Security Agency before he was elected to the House in 2018. He was defeated by Republican Rep. Bob Good in 2020.

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The committee is investigating the insurrection by former President Donald Trump's supporters, who beat police, broke into the building and interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden's victory. The House voted to form the committee in June and has held one hearing with police officers who were injured and verbally attacked that day.

Riggleman's hiring comes after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy decided not to appoint any members to the panel and called it a “sham.” He had originally tapped five Republicans to serve on the committee but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of them, prompting McCarthy to withdraw his members completely.

Pelosi later appointed two Republicans who have been critical of Trump, his role in the insurrection and his lies about widespread election fraud — Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney. Cheney recommended Riggleman, also a Trump critic, for the job on the panel.

The committee also announced the appointment of Joe Maher, a principal deputy general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security. Maher will also serve as a senior staff member on detail from the Homeland department, where he has served for more than a decade.

In the statement, Thompson said Riggleman and Maher “understand how close our democracy was to catastrophe on January 6th and I commend their commitment to help ensure we never see a repeat of that day.”

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