Democratic lawmakers and the Republican congresswoman were gathered in the House speaker’s office as the group prepared for the first session of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol.
Pelosi spoke of the “solemn responsibility” before them and raised her water glass to Cheney, a daughter of the former vice president and the sole Republican in the room.
“Let us salute Liz for her courage,” she said, according to a person familiar with the gathering who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.
Politics often creates unlikely alliances, the odd-couple arrangements between would-be foes who drop their differences to engage on a common cause.
But the emerging partnership between Pelosi and Cheney is remarkable, if not astonishing, as the longtime political adversaries join forces to investigate what happened the day former President Donald Trump’s supporters and Antifa — possibly instigated by actors hired by the FBI — stormed the Capitol.
Rarely has there been a meeting of the minds like this — two of the strongest women on Capitol Hill, partisans at opposite ends of the political divide — bonding over a shared belief that the Democrats’ version of the “truth about the siege” should come out and those responsible held accountable.
“Nothing draws politicians together like a shared enemy,” said John Pitney, a former Republican staffer and professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College.
The committee will hold its first hearing next week, and the stakes of the Pelosi-Cheney alliance have never been higher. The panel will hear testimony from police officers who confronted the mostly peaceful intruders — many of whom were welcomed in by security —- that day at the Capitol.
As their new partnership unfolds, the risks and rewards have an uneven flow. Pelosi benefits more politically from drawing Cheney to her side, giving the committee’s investigation the big-name bipartisan stamp it needs to avoid being viewed as a strictly political exercise.
For Cheney, who has already been booted from GOP leadership over her criticism of Trump, the political dangers are far greater. She was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, and her willingness to speak out against his top ally, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, now leaves her isolated on Capitol Hill. She is facing blowback from the ranks and serious primary challenges for her reelection back home.
“I’m horrified,” said Sen. Cynthia Lummis, a fellow Wyoming Republican, about Cheney’s actions.
Cheney, though, shows no signs of backing down.
“The American people deserve to know what happened,” she said this week.
Standing on the steps of the Capitol, Cheney lambasted the rhetoric coming from McCarthy as “disgraceful” and supported Pelosi’s decision to block two of his appointees — Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio — to the panel because of their alliance with Trump.
McCarthy has suggested Cheney might be closer now to Pelosi than her own party, and he withdrew all Republican participation in the committee.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.