House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will create a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol after Republicans blocked naming an independent commission to conduct the probe.
Pelosi said that with little chance of establishing an independent inquiry, she would act to form the new panel of lawmakers to investigate the causes of the attack by a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters and what can be done to prevent such future violence.
“January 6 was a day of darkness for our country,” Pelosi said Thursday at a news conference. “Our temple of democracy was attacked.”
Multiple House and Senate committees have been probing the intelligence and security failings on Jan. 6 that allowed the mob to breach the Capitol building and interrupt Congress’s certification of the Electoral College results of the 2020 presidential election.
House Democrats impeached Trump on charges of inciting the mob, but he was acquitted by the Senate after he left office.
The House passed legislation to create an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the riot, modeled on the panel that led the inquiry into the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But the bill fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate, with Trump and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell rallying most Republicans to oppose the probe.
While that panel would have been evenly divided between Democratic and Republican appointees, a House select committee would have the Democratic majority in charge of the investigation.
GOP Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, an outspoken critic of Trump’s actions in connection with the riot, said this week a full investigation needs to be conducted.
“We should have passed a bipartisan commission,” she told reporters at the Capitol. “Since that didn’t happen, I think it’s very important for us to have something else so I haven’t heard the details yet of her proposal but I think, you know, this was the worst attack on the Capitol since 1814 and we have to have an investigation.”
McConnell and other Republicans accused Democrats of wanting the commission as a political weapon in next year’s House and Senate campaigns by focusing on the role of Trump and his supporters in the violence. Republicans did that in the aftermath of the 2012 attack on a U.S. compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi. Representative Kevin McCarthy, now the House GOP leader, at the time credited the Benghazi panel with harming Hillary Clinton’s candidacy as she sought the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
Republican Representative John Katko of New York, a co-author of the House-passed bill to set up a commission, said an independent probe by a panel composed of people outside government would have served to “depoliticize” such a review of Jan. 6.
Trump continues to push false claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent, and overturning the election was one of the chief motivators for many in the mob that stormed the Capitol. Hundreds of people have since been arrested in connection with the violence.
© Copyright 2023 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.