Democrats have given Representative Liz Cheney a leading position on the special committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot, granting one of former President Donald J. Trump’s most outspoken Republican critics a chance to make an opening statement at the first hearing to scrutinize the assault on the Capitol.
The marquee slot for the Wyoming Republican, who will speak after Representative Bennie G. Thompson, the panel’s chairman, suggests that Democrats plan to cast Ms. Cheney in the role traditionally played by the ranking member of a committee, a high-profile post. It also indicates that the investigation is likely to become a powerful platform for Ms. Cheney, who has been ostracized by Republicans for denouncing Mr. Trump and his lies of a stolen election, to counter her party’s narrative about the riot.
Republican leaders have boycotted the investigation and said they would launch their own following a refusal by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow two of Mr. Trump’s most loyal allies in the House — who had supported the false claims of voter fraud that fueled the attack — to participate.
Ms. Pelosi responded by adding to the panel a second Republican who has been a forceful critic of Mr. Trump, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
She had already named Ms. Cheney among her initial eight selections for the committee, along with seven Democrats.
At the White House on Monday, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, mocked Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger as “Pelosi Republicans” — a comment Ms. Cheney later told reporters was “pretty childish.” Mr. McCarthy also implied that he was considering punishing the two for working with Democrats investigating the attack on the Capitol by stripping them of their other committee assignments.
Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger were the only two House Republicans to vote in favor of forming the select committee, which was to have 13 members, five of them chosen in consultation with the Republican leader.
Mr. Kinzinger, a six-term congressman who drew a censure from his own party for disavowing Mr. Trump and the conspiracy theories the former president perpetuated, said in a statement on Sunday that he had accepted Ms. Pelosi’s offer to serve on the panel.
“While this is not the position I expected to be in or sought out, when duty calls, I will always answer,” said Mr. Kinzinger, like Ms. Cheney one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump. “This moment requires a serious, cleareyed, nonpartisan approach. We are duty bound to conduct a full investigation on the worst attack on the Capitol since 1814 and to make sure it can never happen again.”
Ms. Cheney was ousted from House leadership in May for criticizing Mr. Trump and his actions before and during the riot.
Ms. Pelosi began seriously considering unilaterally appointing Mr. Kinzinger last week after she blocked Representatives Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio. Both had amplified Mr. Trump’s false claims of election fraud, joined their party’s efforts to challenge President Biden’s victory on Jan. 6 and made statements that undermined the select committee’s work and mission.
About 140 police officers were injured on Jan. 6 as Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol, where Congress was meeting to formalize Mr. Biden’s election, chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” stalking the halls for Ms. Pelosi and forcing lawmakers to evacuate their chambers.
The investigation is set to begin Tuesday with the testimony of police officers who helped fight off the mob. Among them are Officer Harry Dunn; Aquilino Gonell, a sergeant; Michael Fanone, an officer with the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department who lobbied Republicans to support an investigation; and Daniel Hodges, who was crushed in a door during the rampage.