Following former President Donald Trump’s acquittal in the Senate and more than a month and a half after the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing for a special panel to be created. According to Pelosi, the independent panel would investigate the events of that day in order to hold those responsible for enabling it, including Trump himself, accountable.
"Now, as always, security is the order of the day: the security of our country, the security of our Capitol which is the temple of our democracy, and the security of our Members," Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues on Monday. "To protect our security, our security, our security, 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.'"
In her letter, Pelosi explained that the evidence presented during the most recent impeachment trial of Trump justifies moving ahead with a more full investigative process carried out by an independent panel. Apart from wanting to investigate Trump for inciting violence, Pelosi also believes that there are personal reasons to look into the former president. Like other Democratic politicians including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the events of that day traumatized Pelosi — who was personally targeted by alt-right rioters who entered her office and attempted to find and hurt her.
So, how will this independent investigation be carried out? Several lawmakers have now called for a bipartisan commission. And Pelosi explained that this would function similarly to the proposal stemming from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. That specific Commission, formally called The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was a bipartisan initiative led by former Republican New Jersey Governor Tom Kean and former congressmen Lee Hamilton.
The process involved many interviews with witnesses as well as multiple public hearings and subpoenas over the course of almost two years. In the end, the investigation found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) failed to do its job correctly and properly warn the correct parties about impending danger. The "9/11-type commission" process also provided recommendations that led to the reshaping of congressional oversight as well as intelligence coordination in America.
Pelosi has explained that this new panel examining the riots in January would prioritize investigating 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." Currently, she’s chosen Ret. Lieutenant General Russel Honoré to head up the assessment of the Capitol's security capabilities and gaps in security following the horrific events of January 6, which left five people dead.
Surprisingly enough, there are also several Republicans calling for the investigation in order to hold Trump to account. Despite Trump already having been acquitted and evading full impeachment for the second time in the last year, some members of Congress have said this panel is an opportunity to finally hold the former president responsible for the harm he's done. Senator Chris Coons said it’s necessary to "lay bare the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his constitutional oath President Trump really was."
"I think there should be a complete investigation about what happened on 1/6," Senator Bill Cassidy, one of seven Republicans in the Senate who voted to convict Trump, said. According to Cassidy, it’s important to learn "why was there not more law enforcement," in addition to "what was known, who knew it, and when they knew it." Even Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News Sunday that, "We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again," and that we need to “make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time."
Establishing this special commission would also undoubtedly require special legislation that would look into how to prevent any similar attacks in the future. In an ideal world, the investigation would succeed in providing Donald Trump consequences for his lack of leadership and his incitement of violence — and ensure that would likely face consequences including incarceration. But it's unclear now what can and will come of it.