Jan. 6 committee’s lawyer leaving the panel for possible Missouri Senate bid

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(WASHINGTON) -- John Wood, a Republican lawyer and former federal prosecutor who has helped lead the House Jan. 6 committee's investigation, is leaving his role with the panel this week amid calls for him to instead enter the Missouri Senate race as an independent candidate.

Wood, whose last day with the committee is Friday -- though hearings will continue into July -- is expected to explore a bid for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt.

Previously a U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri and a chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security in the second Bush administration, Wood also worked as an aide to former Missouri Sen. John Danforth earlier in his career.

The contest to succeed Blunt is attracting notable names, with former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and state Attorney General Eric Schmitt among the contenders for the Republican nod and Lucas Kunce vying for the Democratic nomination. (Absentee voting in the party primaries is already underway.)

Most recently Wood has led the House select committee's investigative "gold" team, which zeroed in on the role former President Donald Trump played in the Capitol riot. Alongside Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., Wood questioned witnesses in the panel's hearing last week focused on the pressure campaign against former Vice President Mike Pence.

Danforth told ABC News that his super PAC planned to support an independent in the Missouri Senate election -- and he hoped Wood entered the race.

"I've known John for decades and I've certainly talked to him about running for Senate," Danforth said, noting that their last conversation was in the spring and he learned of Wood's departure from the House committee in the press.

"He has a lot of experience in government," Danforth said.

Danforth, who said that after the Jan. 6 insurrection he "regrets" backing his former protégé Josh Hawley in the 2018 Senate race against Democrat Claire McCaskill, told ABC News that he believes many Missourians think the country "is too polarized" and that both major parties do not represent them.

Those hoping for a Wood candidacy see him as an antidote.

"We deserve leaders who believe that our democracy must be held together - not torn apart by partisan politics that have divided our country for too long. John Wood embodies this principle," a spokesman for the John Wood for Missouri Committee said. "We are encouraged by John's decision to leave the select committee on Friday as an important next step in providing Missourians a principled, common-sense choice this November."

According to the Missouri Secretary of State's office, an independent candidate must file a petition with at least 10,000 signatures by Aug. 1 to enter the Senate race.

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