Pelosi calls for 9/11-style commission on Capitol insurrection

Alex WoodwardMon, 15 February 2021, 8:56 pm

In this Wednesday 6 January 2021 file photo, supporters of Donald Trump gather outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC ((Associated Press))
In this Wednesday 6 January 2021 file photo, supporters of Donald Trump gather outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC ((Associated Press))

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for an independent commission, similar to the months-long probe in the wake of the attacks on 11 September, to investigate the Capitol insurrection on 6 January.

Lawmakers have renewed calls for an investigative body to dive into the events surrounding the assault following Donald Trump’s impeachment acquittal and a lack of witness testimony in his trial for inciting his followers to violence after months of peddling conspiracy theories and the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from them.

Speaker Pelosi, who tapped Retired Lt Gen Russel Honore to perform a security review of the Capitol complex in the wake of the attack, announced on Monday that “it is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened”.

“To protect our security, our security, our security, our next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type commission” to “investigate and report on the facts and causes” surrounding the riots that she has characterised in her statement as as “domestic terrorist attack” upon the Capitol complex and the “interference with the peaceful transfer of power”.

The commission also would investigate the “preparedness and response” of the US Capitol Police and federal, state and local law enforcement in Washington DC.

A group of Republican lawmakers have written to Speaker Pelosi about her “responsibility for the security of the Capitol” and “hyperbolic focus on fabricated internal security concerns” in a letter accusing her of leading a “political charade” after she supporting installing magnetometers at the Capitol.

The letter from congressmen Jim Jordan, Devin Nunes, Rodney Davis and James Comer criticises Speaker Pelosi for firing the House Sergeant at Arms and demanding resignation of the Capitol Police chief.

On Sunday, Delaware Senator Chris Coons told ABC that a “9/11 commission” for the assault would “make sure 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 Trump really was”.

Madeleine Dean, one of the House impeachment managers who served as prosecutors in the trial, said “of course there must be a full commission, an impartial commission, not guided by politics, filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction”.

Tom Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton chaired the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which sought to assemble a complete account of the preparedness and aftermath of the attacks on 11 September.

Last week, Mr Kean and Mr Hamilton wrote to congressional leaders and President Joe Biden, calling for an independent and bipartisan commission to lead a similar investigation for the Capitol attacks.

The 9/11 commission’s final report concluded that US intelligence agencies and federal law enforcement failed to anticipate terror threats. The commission took more than two years to complete the report.

In their letter, the former commission chairs wrote: “The shocking and tragic assault … requires thorough investigation, to ensure that the American people learn the truth of what happened that day. An investigation should establish a single narrative and set of facts to identify how the Capitol was left vulnerable, as well as corrective actions to make the institution safe again.”

Following a five-day trial, the former president was acquitted on Saturday after just seven Republicans joined all Senate Democrats in finding him guilty of a months-long campaign to undermine the 2020 election and encourage violence among his supporters leading up to a powder-keg rally as Congress certified the results.

A vote fo 57-43 to convict him fell short of a two-thirds majority vote to secure a conviction.

House impeachment managers secured a vote to bring witnesses in the trial following a statement from Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera-Beutler about a heated phone call between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Mr Trump during the insurrection. A summary of the call was included into the trial’s record, but lawmakers did not hear testimony.

Democrats argued that additional testimony – and more details about Mr Trump’s calls to lawmakers during the assault – would reveal his complicity.