Luria: Jan. 6 committee ‘much more important than whether I get elected again’

The House select committee must also probe the rising tide of antisemitism in the U.S., the Virginia congresswoman told JI

Steve Helber/AP

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) speaks to participants at a USO event in Virginia Beach, Va., in 2019.

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), one of the eight lawmakers appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to the House’s select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, told Jewish Insider she is prioritizing the probe over her reelection prospects in 2022.

Luria, who hails from Virginia’s 2nd District, a swing district, is among the most electorally vulnerable members of the panel. She’s almost certain to face attacks in the 2022 election based on her role on the committee, the creation of which was opposed by most congressional Republicans.

“I think that this work is important and necessary and much more important than whether I get elected again or not in the next election,” Luria told JI late last week. “I’m honored to be part of this committee. I think the work is incredibly important.”

The Virginia congresswoman and 20-year Navy veteran added that the panel has “a very, very big task ahead.” 

Luria said the committee’s work must include probing the disinformation that spurred the events of Jan. 6, the logistics of how the riot was organized and how information was disseminated, the potential financing of the incident, what warning signs law enforcement and intelligence officials missed ahead of the attack, failures in the responses by the Capitol Police and other law enforcement and the delay in the deployment of the National Guard.

She added that the committee must also “try to understand why there is this rising tide of instances of antisemitism, and the close examination of all the factors that went into what happened on Jan. 6 could potentially lead to ways to prevent or stem that in the future.”

Luria said that her membership in the House Homeland Security and House Armed Services committees was a primary factor in Pelosi’s decision to select her for the committee.

“In my comments to her, I spoke about my concerns about the number of veterans and active-duty service members who are disproportionately represented so far in the number of people who’ve been charged for their actions at the Capitol,” Luria continued. “I also spoke about the rise of antisemitism, the antisemitic symbols that were on display.”

Luria added that there are a number of geographic connections to her home state on display at the Capitol — including a rioter from Virginia who was photographed wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt. The congresswoman further argued that there is a “clear arc” from the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., to the Jan. 6 riot.

Asked whether she thinks the committee will need to subpoena testimony from former President Donald Trump or House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Luria said it is “too early to tell,” but added, “nothing has been ruled out at this point.”

“We will follow the information where it leads us, and time will tell what witnesses are important to the work of the committee,” she said.

It also remains to be seen who, if anyone, McCarthy will recommend for the five remaining committee spots, and whether those appointees will participate in the committee’s investigative work or seek to obstruct it. Pelosi also appointed Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-MS). Liz Cheney (R-WY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) to the committee. 

“I hope it will be people who want to do an investigation that’s grounded in facts, who are pragmatic and who are not going to try to turn this into a sort of partisan spectacle,” Luria said.

House Democrats, with the support of some Republicans, initially sought to create a nonpartisan independent commission to investigate the insurrection, rather than a select committee, but Republican leadership in the House and Senate opposed the idea, ultimately blocking it.

Luria said she “very much would have liked to see the independent commission” and was “disappointed [it] was not established.”

“But you know now I think that this work is so important that we need to continue forward in the way that we can,” she added.

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