Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that Congress must “get to the truth” of the causes of the Jan. 6 insurrection, saying the House will move quickly to establish a 9/11 Commission-style review of the deadly attack and the security failures that allowed a mob to overrun the Capitol.
In a letter to House Democrats, Pelosi said establishing such a panel would be the House’s “next step,” signaling the imminent advancement of legislation designed to provide a forum to answer many of the lingering questions about the insurrection, which left five people dead. Among the issues a commission could probe are former President Donald Trump’s role in inciting the riot and the delayed arrival of the National Guard once the violence had broken out.
Pelosi also wrote Monday that House Democrats would offer a supplemental spending measure “to provide for the safety of members and the security of the Capitol.”
She has previously announced her support for both proposals, but Monday’s letter comes just two days after the Senate voted to acquit Trump for inciting the insurrection during an impeachment trial that forced lawmakers to relive the trauma they experienced only a month earlier. Pelosi has also tasked retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré with a review of Capitol security, and he has already recommended an increase in the allowance for individual lawmakers to spend on security.
The bipartisan 9/11 Commission was a massive two-year undertaking that resulted in an authoritative accounting of the terrorist attack that left thousands dead in New York and Washington, D.C. The panel held a dozen public hearings and published a 561-page report that became the first comprehensive guide to the 2001 attack, its causes and recommendations for the future.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a phone interview that a similar panel for Jan. 6 is a necessary step toward unearthing the root causes of the insurrection — going beyond Trump’s immediate role to examine the extremists who heeded his call to descend on Washington last month. Schiff noted that his committee and others are already looking into whether the Trump administration turned its attention from the domestic security threat of white nationalism to appease the former president by focusing on left-wing extremism.
Last week’s impeachment trial in the Senate made clear the extent of evidence about Trump’s role in the violence that remains unrevealed. House Democrats brought their impeachment case against him without an accompanying investigation — a reflection of the hurried, urgent nature of the effort given Trump’s waning days in office.
Republicans, too, have raised questions about the circumstances that caused the dire security threat on Jan. 6. They’ve focused primarily on whether House Democratic leaders themselves bear any responsibility for that day’s scattered security posture. Democrats have said they were assured the National Guard was prepared for protests during the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory, only to find out later that this was not the case.