Jan. 6 committee counsel leaving to explore run for Senate in Missouri

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A senior investigative counsel on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection is leaving the committee to explore running for Missouri’s US Senate seat as an independent, according to four people familiar with his plans.

John Wood, a former federal prosecutor who has worked closely with Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), started notifying committee staff this week of his plans to explore a run for office, according to these people.

Wood ran the committee’s “gold team,” which examined former president Donald Trump’s possible involvement in the siege on the US Capitol, and appeared alongside lawmakers on the panel last week to question witnesses during the hearing focused on the pressure campaign targeting then-Vice President Mike Pence. People involved with the investigation say that Wood is leaving his role with the encouragement of his team and is on good terms with committee staff.

News of his departure comes after former Missouri governor Eric Greitens released an ad for his US Senate campaign showing him pretending to hunt down members of his own party.

“Today we’re goin’ RINO hunting,” Greitens announces in the video, using the derisive phrase “Republicans in Name Only.”

A campaign committee for Wood launched a website and started fundraising on Monday, triggering a 10-day window to formally file with the Federal Election Commission, consultant Steven Crim said. The committee’s treasurer is Mark Eggert, a former associate vice chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis.

The campaign decided to launch Monday because of Greitens’s “RINO hunting ad,” Crim said. He said he expected a formal decision from Wood on whether to run within a week.

The campaign has to file 10,000 signatures by Aug. 1 to get Wood on the ballot as an independent candidate, Crim said. Wood would have the support of former Senator John Danforth (R-Mo.), who is raising money for a super PAC to back an independent candidate.

Danforth said his group polled Missouri voters in February and found broad dissatisfaction with both parties and political polarization.

“If John Wood enters the race, he will be head and shoulders better qualified to be a US senator than anybody else,” Danforth said in an interview. “What’s happened now is politics is so, to a lot of people, disgusting that people would like to go to the polls and vote ‘none of the above.’ But that doesn’t count. The way it counts is to vote for this independent.”

The campaign’s website introduced Wood as a sixth-generation Missourian who served as a federal prosecutor and Department of Homeland Security official. Wood was a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and former appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig, whom Wood took a turn questioning when he appeared as a witness at a Jan. 6 committee hearing this month.

The Republican primary for the Missouri senate seat on Aug. 2 features the state’s former governor Eric Greitens, who resigned in 2018 as he has faced allegations of abuse and blackmail in an affair with a former hairdresser. Other GOP candidates include Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt, and Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long. Mark McCloskey, a St. Louis attorney who was charged and later pardoned in connection with waving a rifle at passing protesters in 2020, is also running. On the Democratic side, the major candidates are beer heiress Trudy Busch Valentine and war veteran Lucas Kunce.

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