House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that the House would move to establish an independent commission to investigate what led to a mob storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — one similar to the body that studied the 9/11 attacks for 15 months before issuing a sweeping 585-page report.
Two days after former president Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate of inciting the deadly attack, Pelosi (D-Calif.) signaled in a letter to Democratic colleagues that the House would soon consider legislation to form a commission to “investigate and report” on the attack and interference in election proceedings, as well as an appropriation to pay for enhanced security features on the Capitol grounds.
Retired Army Gen. Russel Honoré, who was tapped by Pelosi to assess security after the attack, indicated in his “interim reporting” the necessity for improved safety measures, Pelosi said.© Alexander Drago/Reuters U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference with House impeachment managers on the fifth day of the impeachment trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump, on charges of inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2021. REUTERS/Al Drago
“It is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened,” she wrote.
Pelosi’s letter also arrived as multiple congressional committees are in the process of scheduling hearings in which they will question the heads of agencies involved in preparing for and responding to the attack.
Supporters of the commission say such an initiative will have broader authority than those committees to pursue testimony from those in Trump’s orbit — voices that were not part of the impeachment inquiry. The commission will not be under the time constraints of those committee investigations as it produces its findings.
Lawmakers in both parties speaking on Sunday news shows endorsed the idea for an independent investigation modeled after the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, established in 2002 by Congress and President George W. Bush, which published a report with recommendations to guard against future attacks.
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who voted for Trump’s acquittal, said he wants to know more about the timeline of the president’s actions at the time and what congressional leaders knew about the potential threat.
“We need a 9/11 Commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again‚” he told Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday,” even as he castigated Democrats and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over the impeachment.
Although the House voted to impeach Trump a week after the violent attack, the Senate acquitted him on a 57-to-43 vote, 10 votes short of the two-thirds needed to convict.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who along with six other Republicans voted to convict Trump, said many questions remain unanswered after the trial.
“Why was there not more law enforcement, National Guard already mobilized, what was known, who knew it, and when they knew it, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again in the future,” Cassidy said on ABC News’s “This Week.”
Hours after the Senate’s verdict, the Louisiana Republican Party voted to censure Cassidy.
Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), a House impeachment manager, who also spoke on “This Week,” alluded to the partisanship of Saturday’s vote, saying a commission could avoid political infighting.
“Of course, there must be a full commission, an impartial commission, not guided by politics, but filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction, like Dr. Cassidy,” she said.
For Democrats, the commission may aid in holding the former president accountable after the impeachment inquiry failed to convict Trump with inciting supporters during his Jan. 6 speech to stop the counting of votes for then-President-elect Joe Biden.
“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 and that we lay bare the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his constitutional oath President Trump really was,” Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) said on “This Week.”