“The impeachment trial of Donald Trump determined ... who incited the violence on January 6,” Raskin said at a news conference Thursday. “But we need to figure out who organized the violence on Jan. 6. How did they organize it, and why did they organize it?”
Only two Republicans, Reps. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) and Liz Cheney (Wyo.), joined Democrats in voting this week to create the House select committee to investigate Jan. 6 after Senate Republicans blocked efforts to launch an independent commission.
Pelosi selected eight members of the panel on Thursday — including Cheney — while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is allowed to appoint five more. He has dodged questions about whom he will appoint, if anyone.
Raskin and Luria bring distinct perspectives to the group, with Luria drawing on two decades in the military and Raskin pulling from investigations into extremism that he has led for years.
Luria said in an interview Thursday that she felt personally motivated to serve on the body and wrote a letter to Pelosi to make the pitch. She worked in the Navy as a nuclear engineer, trained to “distill facts in a really analytical way,” she said, rather than to react emotionally. She said she believes that approach will be valuable as the committee tries to do its work in a time of hyperpartisanship.
She said she was 17 when she first took the oath to “defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic” and had done that by serving on aircraft carriers in the Middle East, launching strikes against terrorist targets. She was on active duty on a ship when the hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon on 9/11, and she said she felt the same sense of the country being under attack on Jan. 6.
But “being attacked from within is even harder to grapple with,” she added.
“The idea of that ‘and domestic’ part would be front and center after having an insurrection and a mob of thousands of people attempting to overrun the Capitol,” Luria said. “I don’t think a few years ago that one could have foreseen something like that happening in America.”
In his most recent role as House impeachment manager, Raskin drew national attention for amassing mounds of evidence that Trump incited the riot even as the congressman navigated his own personal grief. He hid from the mob of Trump supporters in the Capitol just a day after burying his son, Tommy, 25, who died by suicide on the last day of 2020.
Raskin, a constitutional law professor by training, then drafted the single article of impeachment against Trump and later led the prosecution for House Democrats.
As chairman of the House subcommittee on civil rights and civil liberties, Raskin also has led several hearings in recent years examining the rise of violent extremism and white supremacy — a context that he insisted Thursday should be part of the Jan. 6 inquiry.
He cited right-wing groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, some of whose members have been arrested in connection with the storming of the Capitol. The loose networks include some self-styled citizen militias that are known to recruit from the military and law enforcement communities to provide “security” at conservative events.
“That to me is one of the [main] questions — how did the military infrastructure of the attack come into being?” Raskin said in an interview. “And how did that military infrastructure interact with all of these thousands of other people who were brought in simply with Donald Trump’s promise that this would be ‘wild’?”
During a meeting with other committee members Thursday, Raskin said, most appeared receptive to having Capitol and D.C. police officers testify about the violence they encountered that day.
Luria said that one of the probe’s primary objectives will be to identify intelligence and security failures leading up to the attack, in hopes of preventing another such besiegement of the Capitol.
“I think one thing that was very clear to everyone in the group was the gravity of this, the responsibility we’re being entrusted with to present the facts and policy recommendations that will hopefully prevent something like this from happening in the future.”
During their meeting, she said, Raskin made a comment that stuck with her: “He said the single biggest indicator of a successful coup is that it was preceded by an unsuccessful coup.”