The bipartisan House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack launched its first public hearing this morning, and the testimony from police officers has been gripping. It's also been striking to hear from the panel's lawmakers -- including the Republican members who appear to be taking the process very seriously.
Take Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), for example.
"On January 6 and the days thereafter, almost all members of my party recognized the events that day for what they actually were," Cheney said. "One Republican, for example, said, quote, 'What is happening at the U.S. Capitol right now is unacceptable and un-American. Those participating in lawlessness and violence must be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.'" That member: Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., who has since sought to discredit the investigation and was appointed to the committee by McCarthy before Pelosi nixed the selection.
The Wyoming congresswoman added, "We must overcome the many efforts we are already seeing to cover up and obscure the facts."
An NBC News report noted, "Even for a lawmaker who has criticized her party's leaders publicly before, Cheney's shaming of fellow Republicans while under the spotlight of such a high-profile congressional hearing was breathtaking."
Soon after, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), visibly choked up while speaking, slammed conservative "counter narratives" and conspiracy theories designed to undermine the seriousness of the insurrectionist violence.
"Many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight," Kinzinger added. "It's toxic and it's a disservice to the officers and their families."
If it sounds as if the lawmakers' comments put them fundamentally at odds with the contemporary Republican Party, it's not your imagination.
In fact, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, reportedly told his GOP colleagues during a conference meeting this morning that he's introducing a new resolution targeting Cheney and Kinzinger. As Politico reported, Biggs' proposal "would institute a rules change that would expel any member of the GOP conference if a House Republican accepted a committee assignment from Democrats."
In case this isn't obvious, Kinzinger and Cheney agreed to serve on the Jan. 6 special select committee at the request of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Also this morning, Biggs published a tweet arguing that Cheney and Kinzinger "have effectively removed themselves from the Republican Conference. We should help them out the door by formalizing their departure."
If successful, Biggs' effort wouldn't remove Kinzinger and Cheney from Congress, but it would exile them from the congressional GOP: the duo would, in practical terms, be independents, regardless of how they personally identified their party affiliation.
It remains to be seen whether rank-and-file House Republicans are prepared to participate in such an effort, but with the memory of GOP members removing Cheney from her leadership post fresh on our minds, it'd be a mistake to discount the possibility.