Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) urged members of Congress on Monday to support her in establishing a commission to investigate the breach of the U.S. Capitol building on January 6.
“Now, as always, security is the order of the day: the security of our country, the security of our Capitol which is the temple of our democracy, and the security of our Members,” Pelosi wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter this week.
Pelosi said such a commission would allow Congress to “get to the truth of how this happened.” She added that, in order to “protect our security”, the “next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type Commission” to take a deeper look at the attack.
The commission that was established after the attacks of September 11, 2001, was created by Congress for a similar purpose — to examine how those attacks happened, and how to prevent such attacks in the future. That commission’s work lasted for about 20 months, and it’s possible that a commission on the Capitol breach could last for several months as well.
Such a commission could, in theory, also call upon former President Donald Trump to testify, although it is unlikely that he would do so voluntarily. Former President George W. Bush met with members of the 9/11 panel in 2004, alongside then-Vice President Dick Cheney, to discuss those attacks.
Although Trump’s involvement with a commission on the Capitol breach is questionable, it’s safe to assume that he will be a primary subject of discussion if it is established.
The breach of the Capitol last month came about after Trump had deliberately propagated the lie to his supporters about fraud in the 2020 election that he lost to Joe Biden — falsely insisting that the election was stolen from him. Trump further invited his supporters to descend on Washington, D.C., on January 6 — the day that the Electoral College results were being certified by Congress — where he held a rally and told his loyalists to “fight” the results of the election, even saying that they would “never take back our country with weakness,” and encouraging them to walk down to the Capitol and express their grievances in person.
Following Trump’s speech, the mob of his loyalists marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol and breached the building, disrupting the process of certifying the election results. Five individuals died on that day as a result of the mob’s attack on the Capitol.
Pelosi’s idea for a commission appears to have at least some bipartisan support. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana who was among seven GOP senators who voted with Democrats to indict Trump in his impeachment trial last week, recently spoke in favor of the idea.
“I think there should be a complete investigation about what happened on January 6,” he said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” “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.”
But several Republicans appear to want to blame Pelosi, not Trump, for what happened last month. In a letter to Pelosi, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Illinois), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California), and Rep. James Comer (R-Kentucky) heavily implied that security at the Capitol was her responsibility.
“The speaker of the House is not only the leader of the majority party, but also has enormous institutional responsibilities,” their letter stated. “The speaker is responsible for all operational decisions made within the House.”
Several fact-checking news organizations have demonstrated that these assertions are overstated. While Pelosi has some input on Capitol operations, security is handled by a number of different individuals and committees in Congress. It is unlikely, therefore, that Pelosi had anything to do with the United States Capitol Police’s (USCP) response to the attack from Trump’s mob on the building on January 6, or their lack of preparedness for what ensued that day.
“No one person oversees USCP — the oversight apparatus includes representation from the Architect of the Capitol, the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms, as well as committees from both Houses of Congress,” Bee Barnett, director of communications and programs for the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, said to The Associated Press last month.