Pelosi announces bipartisan support to launch investigative commission into Capitol riot

“We must get to the truth,” the House Speaker said on Monday after Donald Trump was not convicted for incitement

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published February 16, 2021 11:51AM (EST)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a weekly press conference at the Capitol on September 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Liz Lynch/Getty Images)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a weekly press conference at the Capitol on September 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Liz Lynch/Getty Images)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, announced on Monday that Congress will be assembling a '9/11-style' independent commission to investigate "the facts and causes" of the Capitol riot after Senate Republicans blocked the conviction of Donald Trump for his role in exhorting the riotous mob that descended upon Congress on Jan 6. 

The move comes on the heels of Trump's acquittal at his second Senate impeachment trial, during which he was tried for incitement of an insurrection. Pelosi said in her letter to Congress, "It is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened."

The commission, Pelosi said, will be modeled after the 9/11 Commission established in 2002, and is expected to require legislation for its approval.

"To protect our security," Pelosi stated, "our next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type Commission to 'investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021 domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex…and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement in the National Capitol Region.'"

The House Speaker added that a security review for the Capitol, led by retired U.S. army general Russel Honoré –– who coordinated the military's response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 –– will be initiated to take stock of how the Capitol Police can better shore up security in case of future attacks. Pelosi specifically signaled support for directing more federal money toward Capitol security. "We must put forth a supplemental appropriation to provide for the safety of Members and the security of the Capitol," she said. 

Chief among the Commission's questions will be why the Capitol was not guarded adequately by its police force when members of right-wing radical groups were explicitly publicizing their intent to raid the building online. The Capitol Police were, in fact, warned by several Democratic lawmakers that such an insurgency might take place. Even the FBI had issued a bulletin warning that Trump supporters were traveling Capitol Hill to commit "violence and war." 

The Commission, something of an extension of Trump's impeachment trial, is backed with bipartisan supportEarlier this month, Pelosi emphasized that the Commission will comprise a more diverse body of experts than the commission following 9/11. The House Speaker also noted that no current members of Congress will take part. 

"There's still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear and a 9/11 commission is a way to make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward," said Sen. Chris Coons, D-DE, "And that we lay bare the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his constitutional oath President Trump really was."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, who voted for Trump's acquittal, despite acknowledging the fact that Trump directly contributed to the insurgency, said, "His behavior after the election was over the top," adding, "We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again."

"There should be a complete investigation about what happened," said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-LA, one of seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump, "What was known, who knew it and when they knew, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again."

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

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Capitol Police Commission Insurrection Investigate Pelosi Riot Trump Truth