Al Jazeera’s William Roberts encounters hostility, hears conspiracy theories and watches police expel the protesters.
Politics continues to impede efforts in the United States Congress to probe the cause and events of the January 6 US Capitol riot as House Republicans announced a boycott on Wednesday of a special investigatory committee set to meet next week.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, expressed outrage at Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, after she rejected two of the five Republicans that he had selected to sit on the committee. The candidates are close allies of former President Donald Trump.
“With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives [Jim] Banks and [Jim] Jordan to the Select Committee,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision.”
In the hours after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in Washington, DC in early January, both Banks and Jordan voted to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential victory. Trump and his supporters had argued for weeks without evidence that the vote was marred by widespread fraud.
Pelosi said she had spoken with McCarthy and told him that she would reject the two names.
“Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts,” McCarthy said in a statement, announcing that all five of his nominees would not take part in the committee.
Both Banks and Jordan accused Pelosi of playing politics. In a statement, Banks accused the House speaker of “creating this committee to malign conservatives” and Jordan compared the probe to “impeachment three”.
Trump was twice impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate both times.
Tension over investigation
Pelosi’s decision is certain to further inflame tension between the two parties over the insurrection and the House committee that almost all Republicans opposed.
Most in the Republican Party have remained loyal to Trump despite the violent insurrection of his supporters.
McCarthy would not say for weeks whether Republicans would even participate in the probe, but on Monday, he sent the five names to Pelosi.
Pelosi said in the statement that she had accepted McCarthy’s three other picks: Representatives Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Troy Nehls of Texas. All said later on Wednesday they would not participate.
Like Jordan and Banks, Nehls, who helped barricade the doors to the House floor during the insurrection, voted to overturn Biden’s presidential victory. Armstrong and Davis voted to certify the election.
McCarthy’s picks came after all but two Republicans opposed the creation of the 13-person select committee in a House vote last month, with most in the GOP arguing that the majority-Democratic panel would conduct a partisan probe.
House Democrats originally attempted to create an evenly split, independent commission to investigate the insurrection, but that effort fell short when it was blocked by Senate Republicans.
The chairman of the panel, Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, has said that the committee will have a quorum to conduct business whether GOP members are present or not.
Pelosi named eight members of the panel earlier this month – seven Democrats and Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who has strongly criticised Trump and has been the most outspoken member of her caucus against the insurrection.
Cheney, who was demoted from GOP leadership in May over her comments, was one of the two Republicans who voted in favour of forming the committee, along with Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger.
The panel will hold its first hearing on July 27, with at least four rank-and-file police officers who battled rioters that day testifying about their experiences. Dozens of police officers were injured as the crowd pushed past them and broke into the Capitol building.
Seven people died during and after the rioting, including a woman who was shot by police as she tried to break into the House chamber and three other Trump supporters who suffered medical emergencies.
Two police officers died by suicide in the days that followed, and a third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, collapsed and later died after engaging with the protesters. A medical examiner determined he died of natural causes.