After the impeachment: Nancy Pelosi want the capitol attack investigated like 9/11
For Democrats and a shamefully small number of Republicans, last week’s impeachment trial was not only about holding Donald Trump accountable for his actions—it was also about sending a message, to him and other would-be American autocrats, that the country cannot again go down the road to insurrection. “If the Senate acquits Donald Trump, then any president could incite and provoke insurrectionary violence against us again,” impeachment manager Jamie Raskin pleaded with his Capitol Hill colleagues. His appeal, however convincing, failed to move move Republican Senators, and the right and just thing was overpowered by the politics of the moment.
But now, in the wake of Trump’s acquittal, questions of liability and security going forward seem to be moving out of the political realm. Criminal probes circling the former president, including a new one in Georgia, are threatening to hold him accountable where the Senate did not.
Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi on Monday announced an independent probe into the January 6 riot, similar to the 9/11 Commission that conducted an exhaustive, bipartisan review of the 2001 terrorist attacks, to examine how the siege came to be and how similar incidents can be prevented in the future.
“We must get to the truth of how this happened,” the House Speaker wrote in a letter to colleagues, citing revelations from Raskin’s impeachment case and an “interim” security report on the attack by Retired Army General Russel Honoré.
The 9/11 Commission, formed in 2002 by then-President George W. Bush, spent more than a year investigating the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and produced a nearly 600-page report outlining its findings, including that the terrorist attacks could have been prevented, were it not for failures at the CIA and FBI.
For Pelosi, the Times notes, “establishing such a commission would most likely require legislation if it were modeled on the 9/11 Commission.” Members of both parties have expressed support for the establishment of such a commission to investigate the January 6 attack, with even some who voted to acquit Trump, like Lindsey Graham, backing the plan. “We need a 9/11 Commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again, and I want to make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time,” the Trump ally said on Fox News Sunday.
Of course, while there’s certainly more to learn about the events of that day, we already know what happened on January 6, and Graham’s call for an independent commission to deal with the matter seems an awfully convenient way of avoiding having to do so himself—just as Mitch McConnell pointedly noting in a floor speech Saturday that “former presidents are not immune” from civil or criminal accountability allowed him to punt on his own duty to hold Trump accountable.
The need for an independent investigation and real accountability is clear, but the promise of it should not be an excuse for political leaders to wash their hands of it.
It seems a majority of Americans agree.
A new ABC News/Ipsos poll published Monday found nearly 60% of Americans believe Trump should have been convicted, and more than 75% believe senators voted based on partisan politics in the case. Even a so-called “independent” probe is not necessarily above the political fray—the 9/11 Commission was surrounded by its own controversies, and the report it produced was seen by some as going easy on the Bush administration’s performance.
But in operating from at least some remove from the toxic morass of day-to-day politics, such a panel could carry more authority than the congressional committees already examining the January 6 attack—and continue Raskin’s work of building a record of what happened that day and who was responsible for it. “There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons said on This Week Sunday.
“A 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 violating of his constitutional oath President Trump really was.”
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