House approves select committee to investigate pro-Trump Capitol insurrection

A supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump sprays smoke during a “Stop the Steal” protest outside of the Capitol building in Washington D.C. January 6, 2021.

Stephanie Keith | Reuters

The House passed legislation Wednesday that will form a select committee to investigate the violent Jan. 6 riot in which Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. 

The measure passed in a 222-190 party-line vote. Only two Republicans, Reps. Adam Kinzinger, R-I.L., and Liz Cheney, R-W.Y., voted in favor of it.

 “We have the duty, to the Constitution and the Country, to find the truth of the January 6th Insurrection and to ensure that such an assault on our Democracy cannot happen again,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to House members Wednesday morning. 

Pelosi announced the legislation after Senate Republicans blocked a bill in May that would have created an independent and bipartisan commission, modeled after the 9/11 commission, to probe the attack. GOP leaders asserted that it would only duplicate existing investigation efforts by the Justice Department and congressional committees. 

Under the newly approved legislation, the select committee will be led by Democrats and consist of 13 members. Pelosi will appoint one chairperson and all members to the committee, 5 of whom will be appointed in consultation with Republican House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, according to the legislation.  

The committee will investigate and report the facts and causes of the event, such as activities of intelligence and law enforcement agencies and technological factors that may have motivated the attack, the legislation says. It will also develop recommendations to prevent similar events from occurring in the future. 

All findings, conclusions and recommendations made by the committee will be issued in a final report to the House, according to the legislation. 

“Will we investigate how our democracy was attacked or will we send a green light to allow it to be attacked again? Will we stand with the cops or roll with the cop killers? Do we want the truth, or will we allow history to be erased? And are we for the constitution or are we for chaos?,” Representative Eric Swalwell said on the House floor.  

“January 6 was a crime against our democracy and the heroes of this Capitol. Now we must investigate it. Failing that, we are lawless. And lost.”

Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-M.N., urged Republicans not to vote for the legislation, stating that it is “rife with partisan politics at its worst.”

A mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to thwart Congress' confirmation of President Joe Biden‘s electoral victory. The attack left five people dead, including Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick. 

Pelosi invited Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn and Metropolitan Police Officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges to sit in during the House debate and vote. Gladys Sicknick, the mother of the police officer who died, was expected to attend as well. 

Police officers who responded at the Capitol and Gladys Sicknick have all lobbied for the independent select committee, the Associated Press reported Friday. 

Fanone and Dunn met with McCarthy last Friday, asking him to publicly condemn statements made by GOP members who have downplayed the attack and voted against honoring police for defending the Capitol, according to the Associated Press. 

Dunn, who had fought the rioters in hand-to-hand combat and was subject to racial slurs, told the Associated Press after the meeting that the goal is “accountability, justice for everybody that was involved.”

Fanone, who had described being shocked with a stun gun and beaten by rioters, added that he asked McCarthy not to put “the wrong people” on the select committee.

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