US House forms panel to probe January 6 attack on Capitol

Democrats advance select committee after Republicans block commission to investigate riot by Trump supporters.

A mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol building on January 6 [File: Leah Millis/Reuters]

The United States House of Representatives has voted to establish a special committee to investigate the events of January 6, when supporters of former President Donald Trump assaulted police and stormed Congress as it met to ratify Joe Biden’s election as US president.

The new committee will be composed mostly of Democrats and will be charged with probing the insurrection at the US Capitol, Trump’s role in it and the continuing threat of violent extremism in the US.

“What we are seeking is the truth,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said. “Every member here knows that January 6 was an attempt to subvert our democracy.”

The House voted 222-190 to establish the January 6 probe. Republican leaders opposed the creation of the special investigative panel as well as an earlier proposal to create a bipartisan commission similar to one that probed the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attacks.

More than 140 members of the US Capitol Police and the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police were injured in the riot, which had followed a rally and fiery speech by Trump on the National Mall in which he claimed the election had been stolen.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pushed the need for an investigation of January 6 over Republican opposition [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Thousands of Trump supporters marched to the Capitol building where the House and Senate were meeting to officially count the electoral votes for president, a constitutionally required procedure.

The mob attacked police and overran barricades to invade the historic building sending, Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress running through corridors to secure rooms for safety.

One Trump supporter was shot by police as she tried to enter the lobby of the House chamber and three other Trump supporters died from health conditions during the riot. One police officer who scuffled with attackers collapsed and later died from a stroke. Two police officers died by suicide in the aftermath.

In the months since the attack, 500 people have been arrested on charges related to the breach of the Capitol and 130 have been charged with assaulting or impeding police, according to the FBI.

Capitol Police officials have urged members of Congress to conduct a thorough investigation of what happened and Pelosi invited the police to sit in the House public galleries for Wednesday’s vote.

The committee is to be composed of 13 members appointed by the House speaker, five of whom are to be appointed after consultation with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

It is unclear which Republicans Pelosi will place on the committee. House Republican leader McCarthy declined to say on June 29 whether he would seek to name members of his caucus to the committee.

“The speaker has never talked to me about it,” McCarthy said, according to CNN.

Several vocal Trump supporters who continue to espouse the conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was stolen have expressed interest in joining the committee. Two Trump critics, Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, are potential Republican appointees by Pelosi.

“The attack on January 6th was an unprecedented assault on Congress and the functioning of our democratic process,” Cheney said in a statement supporting the probe.

“This investigation can only succeed if it is sober, professional, and non-partisan,” Cheney said.

Two of the officers who responded, Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, had met with McCarthy last week and asked him to take the House investigation seriously, The Associated Press reported.

The committee will examine evidence developed by law enforcement and intelligence agencies and seek to build upon other investigations already under way in Congress and the FBI.

A key focus of the committee will be “influencing factors” including “how technology, including online platforms, financing and malign foreign influence and campaigns may have factored into the motivation, organization and execution of the domestic terrorist attack”.

The select committee will have subpoena power and a budget for consultants and is expected to conduct public hearings before submitting a final report to the House.

Source: Al Jazeera