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Pelosi renews call for Congress to investigate the Capitol insurrection

The House speaker hopes to form a commission that sheds more light on the events of January 6.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at a news conference on April 15, in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) renewed her call for a congressional commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol insurrection in a “Dear Colleague” letter sent to her Democratic House colleagues Friday.

The letter, sent to mark 100 days since the attempted revolt, indicated that Pelosi recently sent another proposal to Republican House leadership seeking to create a formal group in the vein of the 9/11 Commission.

“Compromise has been necessary; now, we must agree on the scope, composition and resources necessary to seek and find the truth,” Pelosi wrote. “It is my hope that we can reach agreement very soon. At the same time, committees in the House and Senate have been holding and planning hearings, which will be a resource to the commission.”

Thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on January 6 while both the House and Senate were in the process of certifying the Electoral College votes. Six people, including one Capitol Police Department officer, died as a result of the day’s events.

Pelosi commemorated Brian Sicknick, the CPD officer who died during the insurrection, in her letter, as well as Billy Evans, a CPD officer who died when a car attempted to overrun a Capitol barricade earlier this month. Both officers were lain in honor in the Capitol for their bravery in giving their lives to protect the Capitol and members of Congress.

Calls for a congressional commission began almost immediately following the insurrection, and Trump was impeached over his role in inciting the violence in late January. He escaped conviction in the Republican-controlled Senate despite seven of his party’s senators crossing over to vote for his conviction.

Democratic lawmakers would like to bring to light more facts surrounding the events of that day — who contributed to the organizing, whether the White House had a direct hand in organizing the riot, and law enforcement’s planning and response to the threat posed by the far-right mob.

Pelosi, however, hasn’t done herself any favors in attempting to form the commission. In early February, the speaker proposed a commission consisting of seven Democrats and four Republicans to “conduct an investigation of the relevant facts and circumstances relating to the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol.”

Republican leadership responded by objecting to the partisan imbalance in the initial proposal, and attempting to broaden the commission’s scope to include all political violence within the United States. Republicans have also sought subpoena power for conservative members of the commission.

“If Congress is going to attempt some broader analysis of toxic political violence across this country, then in that case, we cannot have artificial cherry-picking of which terrible behavior does and does not deserve scrutiny,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in February.

As for the newest call to action, Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) denied that he’d received a fresh proposal from Pelosi’s office, according to a CBS News report.

“Neither the Republican leader nor his staff have been provided Speaker Pelosi’s latest proposal, but hopefully the speaker has addressed our basic concerns of equal representation and subpoena authority,” a spokesperson for McCarthy told CBS News.

The Republican strategy throughout appears to be an attempt to distract from their party’s responsibility in driving the social and political dynamics which led to the insurrection, by pointing to random examples of left-wing violence. What-about-ism has become a common GOP tactic over recent years.

But it remains to be seen whether the actions — and words — of several Republican lawmakers who promoted the “big lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump will be within the scope of the commission’s investigation.