Independent commission will investigate Jan. 6 siege of U.S. Capitol


U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress will establish an independent, Sept. 11-style commission to look into the deadly insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol.

Pelosi says the commission will “investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex.”

The Speaker says in a letter to Democratic colleagues that the House will also put forth supplemental spending to boost security at the Capitol.

Following former president Donald Trump’s acquittal over the weekend at his second Senate impeachment trial, bipartisan support appeared to be growing for an independent commission to examine the deadly insurrection.

Investigations into the riot were already planned, with Senate hearings scheduled later this month in the Senate Rules Committee. Pelosi asked retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore to lead an immediate review of the Capitol’s security process.

U.S. lawmakers say several investigations are already planned into the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

More inquiries likely

In her letter Monday, Pelosi said, “It is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened.”

She added, “As we prepare for the Commission, it is also clear from General Honore’s interim reporting that we must put forth a supplemental appropriation to provide for the safety of Members and the security of the Capitol.”

Lawmakers from both parties, speaking on Sunday’s news shows, signaled that more inquiries were likely. The Senate verdict Saturday, with its 57-43 majority falling 10 votes short of the two-thirds needed to convict Trump, hardly put to rest the debate about the Republican former president’s culpability for the Jan. 6 assault.

“There should be a complete investigation about what happened,” said Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump. “What was known, who knew it and when they knew, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again.”

Cassidy said he was “attempting to hold President Trump accountable,” and added that as Americans hear all the facts, “more folks will move to where I was.” He was censured by his state’s party after the vote.

The House Majority leader, Nancy Pelosi, says there will also be increased spending for additional security at the Capitol. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Trump’s behaviour was ‘over the top’

An independent commission along the lines of the one that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks would probably require legislation to create. That would elevate the investigation a step higher, offering a definitive government-backed accounting of events. Still, such a panel would pose risks of sharpening partisan divisions or overshadowing President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.

“There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear and a 9/11 commission is a way to make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward,” said Sen. Chris Coons, a Biden ally. “And that we lay bare the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his constitutional oath President Trump really was.”

House prosecutors who argued for Trump’s conviction of inciting the riot said Sunday they had proved their case. They also railed against the Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, and others who they said were “trying to have it both ways” in finding the former president not guilty but criticizing him at the same time.

A close Trump ally, Sen. Lindsey Graham voted for acquittal but acknowledged that Trump had some culpability for the siege at the Capitol that killed five people, including a police officer, and disrupted lawmakers’ certification of Biden’s White House victory. Graham said he looked forward to campaigning with Trump in the 2022 election, when Republicans hope to regain the congressional majority.

“His behaviour after the election was over the top,” Graham said. “We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again.”

The Senate acquitted Trump of a charge of “incitement of insurrection” after House prosecutors laid out a case that he was an “inciter in chief” who unleashed a mob by stoking a months-long campaign of spreading debunked conspiracy theories and false violent rhetoric that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Trump’s lawyers countered that Trump’s words were not intended to incite the violence and that impeachment was nothing but a “witch hunt” designed to prevent him from serving in office again.

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