May 20, 2021

Jan. 6 Commission

“The House voted Wednesday to create an independent commission on the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol… The bill passed the House 252-175, with 35 Republicans voting with Democrats in support of the commission.” AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left supports the commission, arguing that it is necessary to understand the events leading up to and on January 6.

“Bipartisan, congressional or presidential commissions have traditionally been set up to investigate some of the most traumatic and consequential events in American history. President Lyndon Johnson tasked the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of his predecessor John Kennedy. The 9/11 Commission was established by Congress to investigate al Qaeda's attacks on New York and Washington in 2001…

“Such probes often identify weaknesses in US defenses that enemies were able to exploit -- for instance, in aviation security and poor cooperation between intelligence agencies in 2001. Commissions also provide a moment of national accounting for history and an agreed-upon version of the facts and help to debunk conspiracy theories -- one reason Republicans who are whitewashing Trump's assault on the US democratic system itself may oppose such a panel now.”
Stephen Collinson, CNN

“McCarthy’s putative reasons for rejecting the commission boil down to two main points. First, he calls the hearing ‘duplicative,’ citing an ongoing criminal investigation by the Justice Department and hearings in the Senate Homeland Security Committee. McCarthy has not previously evinced much concern over the damage of duplicative hearings, having supported ten investigations into Benghazi, six of them in the House, the last of which he frankly described as an effort to damage Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers…

“Second, he claims that the January 6 investigation fails to appropriately emphasize the events he wishes to use as deflections… It is true that this investigation of a violent insurrection by the president’s allies, intending to pressure Congress to overturn the election results and hand the sitting president an unelected second term, does not principally focus on other, different violent episodes…

“The September 11 Commission did not get into the Oklahoma City bombings or the invasion of Grenada. Street gangs taking advantage of protests to loot stores, or mentally ill loners attempting to kill politicians are different problems than a president attempting to cancel an election because he lost.”
Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

“Many Republicans do not want an impartial panel to remind the public of their party’s role in the event. A fair inquiry would examine how GOP lawmakers fed the election lies that inspired the mob, and how they built Jan. 6, which should have featured a pro forma counting of electoral votes, into a showdown over the 2020 presidential election. Republican lawmakers who signed a spurious lawsuit seeking to overturn the results bear some guilt; those who went on to object to the counting of electoral votes from several swing states bear even more.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

“[McConnell noted] that staff ‘would only be appointed by the Democrat chairman and that Republicans would not have a say in that,’ and he worried that the Dec. 31 deadline for the commission to finish its business would be unmeetable…

“The complaint about staffing makes no sense at all. The bill text on staff hiring is identical to that of the bipartisan 9/11 commission, which no one had a problem with, as well as that of a separate Jan. 6 commission proposal introduced by House Republicans in January… The Dec. 31 deadline is a more plausible complaint… [But] Given that these complaints are technical ones, there should technically be a possibility that the Senate could amend the House bill on a bipartisan basis to fix some of these issues Republicans say they have.”
Jim Newell, Slate

“Democrats gave Republicans everything they could possibly want – including an equal number of members, meaning if a subpoena were to be issued, it would require at least some bipartisan support… And yet Republicans [rejected the proposal]… Voters have entrusted Democrats with the tools of the majority. They should not hesitate to use them to root out the full and complete truth behind Jan. 6. Republicans will attack their efforts as partisan and politically motivated. Guess what? Nothing Democrats can do will ever stop Republicans from making those charges, so who cares.”
Kurt Bardella, USA Today

From the Right

The right is generally opposed to the commission, arguing that it is an effort by Democrats to gain partisan advantage.

The right is generally opposed to the commission, arguing that it is an effort by Democrats to gain partisan advantage.

“Hidden in the fine print are tools empowering Democrats. The bill gives the chairman unilateral authority to demand information from federal agencies and appoint senior staff. ‘Thanks to powers invested in the Chairperson alone, the Democratically-appointed members would have significant control over the direction of the investigation’ and the ability to stop GOP members from ‘engaging in mischief,’ New York University law professor Ryan Goodman reassured a Washington Post writer…

“Multiple investigations of the Jan. 6 events are already underway. The Justice Department has announced 445 arrests, and the Office of the Architect of the Capitol has been allocated $10 million to conduct a security review. Congressional committees, led by Democrats, have been holding hearings and will no doubt issue reports…

“Unless a commission could work together, its effort would be redundant. It’s a shame to say it, but there isn’t enough shared trust in Washington these days to pull off a bipartisan inquiry on so polarized a subject… better to let Congress and law enforcement do their job in regular order, and be held accountable for it.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“In the grand scheme of things, why would a short-lived riot where the only person killed was by police need a commission to study it? There is no great mystery here. There was no grand scheme to overthrow the government. There were some cosplaying morons who trespassed, damaged property, and skirmished with police. It was unacceptable, but it was not 9/11, where 3,000 people were murdered by Islamist terrorists. Treating it as such is insulting to everyone’s intelligence…

“All Republicans have to do is not be stupid leading into 2022 and they are likely to score a resounding victory. Helping Democrats relitigate the past is a recipe for disaster, and it’s one the GOP should not oblige. Hopefully, enough Republican senators have a backbone and filibuster this bill because if they don’t, then the GOP deserves what it gets from its voters.”
Bonchie, RedState

Some argue that “Everyone knows what happened on January 6, 2021: The United States Capitol was breached by Trump supporters who hoped to block Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. Explaining why it happened is much harder, which is why America needs a January 6 Commission…

“[None of the current criminal or congressional investigations] has universal jurisdiction to comprehensively evaluate the attack from a 360-degree perspective. And this full and complete picture is exactly the information that must be collected and made publicly available if future attacks on our elections—both in terms of disinformation and physical force—are to be prevented…

“A bipartisan commission, with support from Republicans and Democrats both inside and outside Washington, might be our last best hope in terms of establishing any kind of baseline of truth about the 2020 presidential election before the next contests get underway.”
Amanda Carpenter, The Bulwark

Others note that “Trump was impeached and left office in disgrace, even without being convicted by the Senate. Over 400 people have been charged for participating in the riots, and federal prosecutors expect to add at least 100 more to that total…

“So what exactly is left? We know Trump bears moral (not legal) responsibility for what happened. The actual participants have been legally charged and await trial. There has already been a review of Capitol security. Is there anything that a commission could uncover that would truly change those previous outcomes? It’s not likely…

“Democrats are playing defense with a thin House majority. Relitigating Jan. 6 would allow them to rev up the base once again, as well as attempt to drag down support for House Republicans in swing districts. It will also help President Joe Biden bury the disasters he’s dealing with, from inflation and the border crisis to Hamas terrorists and, most recently, his gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline [for which he just waived sanctions].”
Zachary Faria, Washington Examiner

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.