Lawmakers push for Capitol riot probe

Protesters supporting then President Donald Trump break into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS

Democratic and Republican lawmakers are joining forces to demand the creation of an independent blue-ribbon commission to investigate the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Lawmakers say a commission similar to the one that probed circumstances surrounding the Sept. 11 terror attacks should be created to investigate all aspects of the deadly insurrection, including the role of former President Donald Trump, who was impeached for inciting insurrection but was acquitted in the Senate Saturday.

“There should be a complete investigation about what happened,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., one of seven GOP senators 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.”

Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat and close ally of President Joe Biden, agreed that Americans still don’t know the whole truth about what happened, who is responsible and how it could have been prevented.

“There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear,” Coons said. “And that we lay bare the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his constitutional oath President Trump really was.”

Investigations into the riot were already planned, with Senate hearings scheduled later this month in the Senate Rules Committee. Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore is to lead an immediate review of the Capitol’s security process after Trump supporters easily overwhelmed outnumbered Capitol Police.

A 9/11-style commission would probably require legislation from Congress to create. That would elevate the investigation a step higher, offering a definitive government-backed accounting of events.

For that reason, supporters of Trump will likely resist its creation. Some on the right have already floated the idea that such a commission should also look at last summer’s racial justice protests.

Cassidy was quickly censured by his state’s Republican Party for voting to convict Trump but still believes more Republicans would support his position if they knew all the facts about the riots and Trump’s role in inciting the attack.

“More folks will move to where I was,” Cassidy said.

Even Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, an ardent support of Trump who voted for acquittal, acknowledged that the former president’s words and actions contributed to the violent insurrection 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 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.”

The Senate voted 57-43 to convict Trump of inciting the riot, a tally that fell 10 votes short of the two-thirds needed to convict.

But the support of seven Republicans and the statement by Senate Minority Leader saying that Trump bears responsibility for the riot means there may be a bipartisan appetite for an inquiry, even if it will surely expose more details about Trump’s failures.

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