You have to give the Democrats some credit for being consistent if nothing else. Having failed twice in their attempts to impeach Donald Trump, party leaders are continuing to push for the formation of a commission, similar to the one that investigated the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks, tasked with conducting a sweeping investigation into the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill and the former president’s involvement in it. While their motives probably seem obvious to everyone, this looks like a case of needing to be careful what you wish for. Gathering all of this information may prove useful in both prosecuting the offenders and preventing a similar debacle in the future. But it could also further weaken their claims that Donald Trump was the ringleader. (Associated Press)
A day after former President Donald Trump won his second Senate impeachment trial, bipartisan support appeared to be growing for an independent Sept. 11-style commission into the deadly insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol.
Investigations into the riot were already planned, with Senate hearings scheduled later this month in the Senate Rules Committee. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has asked retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré to lead an immediate review of the Capitol’s security process.
Lawmakers from both parties, speaking on Sunday’s news shows, signaled that even more inquiries were likely. The Senate verdict Saturday, with its 57-43 majority falling 10 votes short of the two-thirds needed to convict Trump, hardly put to rest the debate about the former president’s culpability for the Jan. 6 assault.
Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, one of the seven GOP senators to vote for impeachment, is quoted as saying he wants the commission to “hold President Trump accountable.” (Cassidy was censured by his own party after the vote.)
Cassidy is only one example of what’s really going on here. We already heard Chuck Schumer take to the lectern and say that Donald Trump has been “found guilty in the court of public opinion.” Others were echoing similar sentiments on all of the Sunday shows over the weekend. The bottom line is that the Democrats are furious over their failure to be able to remove Trump entirely from the field of play. Rather than getting back to work on the regular orders of business, they will continue chewing this bone for the foreseeable future.
I find myself wondering if Chuck Schumer and his allies have really thought this through. As I suggested above, I would fully support the creation of such a commission because that riot was a disaster that our security and law enforcement agencies were clearly unprepared for. We should be able to understand the origins of the attack and use that information to help stave off similar disasters in the future while improving the Capitol Hill Police’s ability to respond more effectively.
But the proposed commission would also be delving into the origins of the riot and how it proceeded, right? We already know that somebody staged some pipe bombs in the vicinity prior to January 6th. Other tools, such as crowbars and hammers were on display that weren’t likely to have just been laying around. That means that some serious planning went into this.
Planning involves cooperation (or “a conspiracy” if you prefer) and that means communications were taking place in advance of the actual attack. A full investigation may eventually uncover social media or even dark web conversations making whatever arrangements were in place.
But the primary claim by the Democrats all along has been that Donald Trump was the cause of the attack, riling up the crowd with his incendiary rhetoric. Wild graphics tracking cell phones around the Capitol displayed the movement of the crowd from Trump’s rally to the Capitol Building. But if people were plotting the attack well in advance and even staging resources for it the day before, how did Trump cause it? Does the man have a time machine he hasn’t told us about?
Be careful what you wish for. A commission of this sort could produce a significant amount of useful information. But it could also show that the real masterminds behind the riot did not include the former president.