House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Monday that she would pursue a “9/11-type commission” to investigate the attack on the Capitol on January 6. In a letter to members of Congress, Pelosi stated that an outside, independent commission would be necessary to “investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021 domestic terrorist attack” which killed five and disrupted the peaceful transition of power.
The announcement of the plan comes two days after the acquittal of former president Donald Trump in his second Senate impeachment trial on one count of inciting an insurrection, and in the midst of a Capitol security review by retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who led the federal task force during Hurricane Katrina. While Honoré has been assessing the Capitol’s immediate “security needs,” the commission would provide a more detailed understanding of the insurrection, and recommendations on how to prevent such an attack in the future.
Modeling it after the 9/11 Commission Report — a 20-month investigation that resulted in a 585-page document — would certainly provide the understanding about the January 6 attack that lawmakers and the general public are currently lacking. As the New York Times notes, the establishment of such a commission “would most likely require legislation,” as the September 11 investigation did.
Already, there is some bipartisan support for a commission on the insurrection, which Pelosi first recommended at the beginning of February. On Sunday, the day after he voted to convict Donald Trump, Republican senator Bill Cassidy called for a “complete investigation about what happened on January 6.” Also on Sunday, Republican senator Lindsey Graham — the close Trump ally who voted to acquit the former president — said that such a commission was necessary “to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again.” Pelosi, as expected, has allies among Senate Democrats, all of whom voted to impeach Trump this weekend. “There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear,” Delaware senator and close Biden ally Chris Coons said on Sunday. “The 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 and violating of his constitutional oath President Trump really was.”
Though the videos played during the impeachment by the House managers laid out in new detail just how close the insurrectionists came to lawmakers, several key questions regarding the attack have still not been properly answered. It is not yet clear how Brian Sicknick — the only Capitol Police officer killed in the attack itself — lost his life. The FBI also has not arrested anyone for the pipe bombs planted the night before the insurrection, and is still requesting social media help in the manhunt.