capitol riot

January 6 Commission Dies, As Republicans Oppose Focus on January 6

Just another protest among many others, Republicans say. Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

After a month or so of discussions, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has apparently given up on her idea of creating a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the Capitol Riot. Instead, seven House committees will conduct their own investigation of the events of January 6, utilizing their subpoena and fact-gathering powers, as Politico reports:

In letters to 16 agencies across the Executive Branch and Congress, the panels asked for all communications sent between agency officials regarding Congress’ Jan. 6 session, when lawmakers certified Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. The requests demand all relevant documents and messages from Dec. 1, 2020, to Jan. 20, 2021.

Congressional Republicans objected to two features of Pelosi’s original proposal. First, she proposed giving the president three appointments in addition to one each from House and Senate leaders from both parties. That, said Republicans, would give Democrats an overall 7-4 majority on the commission, unlike the equal partisan representation on its model, the 9/11 Commission.

But Pelosi has indicated repeatedly that she was open to negotiation on the structure and composition of the commission. The real killer, it seems, has been GOP refusal to accept a January 6 commission whose scope is limited to the events of that day, as the Associated Press reported last week:

The Republicans said the investigation should not just focus on what led to the Jan. 6 insurrection but also on violence in the summer of 2020 during protests over police brutality — a touchstone among GOP voters and an idea that Democrats say is a distraction from the real causes of the violent attack.

In addition to a broader investigation of various and sundry forms of violence, Republicans also want any commission investigation to be guided away from the idea there’s something particularly dangerous about right-wing extremism:

Republicans swiftly decried the broad latitude that the commission would have to investigate the causes of the insurrection. They also objected to a series of findings in the bill that quoted FBI Director Christopher Wray saying that racially motivated violent extremism, and especially white supremacy, is one of the biggest threats to domestic security.

So having been denounced for wanting a January 6 commission to investigate January 6 and its actual perpetrators, Pelosi has gone to plan B: a regular House investigation. That, of course, will be denounced by Republicans as partisan, too, but at least it can get underway without arguments about making sure left-wing protesters who had nothing to do with the Capitol riot share the spotlight.

January 6 Commission Dies, As GOP Opposes Focus on January 6