Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) claimed Thursday on Fox News’ Special Report that she is the “ranking member” of the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, in an apparent effort to defend the committee’s subpoenas against legal challenges.
Cheney told Fox News’ Bret Baier that she holds the title of “ranking member,” even though House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) chose Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) for that role.
Cheney falsely claimed that McCarthy refused to nominate Republicans to the committee. In fact, McCarthy only withdrew his nominations after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected McCarthy’s nomination of Banks and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to serve on the committee.
Pelosi then appointed Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), two opponents of former President Donald Trump, to the committee, though she did not appoint the five minority members required by the committee’s enabling resolution.
Critics say the committee is therefore invalid, and that its subpoenas to witnesses for depositions are null and void, because the enabling resolution requires that they be issued only after consultation with the ranking member, and there is none.
The argument that the January 6 committee lacks a ranking member is central to lawsuits against the committee brought by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, among others. As Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist has explained, the reason a ranking member’s consent to subpoenas is necessary is to protect transparency and the due process rights of witnesses. Currently, she noted, witnesses are being interrogated by two “sides” who are, in fact, one side against Trump.
Hemingway notes that Cheney has been claiming to be the committee’s ranking member since at least November, though she is not recognized as such by Republicans, and Rep. Banks continues to claim that status, though barred from the committee.
At the core of the dispute is the question of how ranking members are chosen. Traditionally, the ranking member is the most senior member of a committee. Rep. Kinzinger outranks Rep. Cheney, since he began serving in 2011 and she only started in 2017. She once held a leadership position in the Republican caucus but lost that position last year.
Hemingway argues that Cheney effectively represents Pelosi and the Democrats, not Republicans, and therefore cannot be the ranking member.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.