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Pelosi says independent commission will examine Capitol riot

Congress members in masks
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), center, with impeachment managers Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), left, and Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington on Saturday after the Senate voted to acquit former President Trump in the impeachment trial.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

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

Pelosi said 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 … and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power.”

In a letter to Democratic colleagues, Pelosi said the House will also put forth supplemental spending to boost security at the Capitol.

After former President Trump’s acquittal at his second Senate impeachment trial, bipartisan support appeared to be growing for an independent commission into the deadly insurrection.

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

Conflicted Republicans weigh life after Trump following seven GOP senators’ vote for conviction in the Senate impeachment trial.

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 Honoré’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 even 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 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.

An independent 9/11-style commission, which probably would require legislation to create, 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 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 (D-Del.), 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 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) 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 (R-S.C.), said he looked forward to campaigning with Trump in the 2022 election, when Republicans hope to regain the congressional majority. But Graham 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 Democrat Joe Biden’s White House victory.

“His behavior 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.”

Now that he’s been acquitted in his second Senate impeachment trial, Donald Trump is preparing for the next phase of his post-presidency life.

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.

The conviction tally was the most bipartisan in American history but left Trump to declare victory and signal a political revival while a bitterly divided GOP bickered over its direction and his place in the party.

On Sunday, several House impeachment managers sharply criticized McConnell, who told Republican senators shortly before the vote that he would acquit Trump. In a blistering speech after the vote, McConnell said the president was “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day” but that the Senate’s hands were tied to do anything about it because Trump was out of office. But the Senate, in an earlier vote, had deemed the trial constitutional.

“It was powerful to hear the 57 guilties and then it was puzzling to hear and see Mitch McConnell stand and say not guilty and then minutes later stand again and say he was guilty of everything,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.). “History will remember that statement of speaking out of two sides of his mouth,” she said.

Dean backed the idea of an impartial investigative commission “not guided by politics but filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction.”

The lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), called the trial a “dramatic success in historical terms” by winning unprecedented support from GOP senators. He said the verdict didn’t match the reality of the strength of evidence.

“We successfully prosecuted him and convicted him in the court of public opinion and the court of history,” he said.


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