Months in the making, Democrats and Republicans in the House have struck a deal to establish a joint, impartial commission to investigate the attack on the US Capitol on January 6th.
For weeks, Republicans have fought House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to create such a committee, claiming it would enable Democrats to nominate a majority of the commissioners.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the chair of the Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. John Katko (R-NY), the top Republican on the panel, proposed a new arrangement of proportional representation last month, in which the Democratic and Republican representatives of the House and Senate will each get to select five members of the 10-member board, which would be modeled after the 9/11 commission.
The chair will be chosen by the Democrats, while the vice chair will be chosen by the Republicans.
Sounds like a win/win, right? Not quite. Here’s the problem.
Subpoenas must be approved by both the chair and vice-chair or a majority of the commissioners.
That ensures the commission’s Republicans will be able to block any subpoena.
It’s easy to imagine a number of situations in which the commission—which will need Senate approval—becomes embroiled in a fight about who to interview, what evidence to pursue, and which witnesses to subpoena.
The aspect that nulls the power of this commission is that the Republican party has become the errand boy for the man at the center of the insurrection: former President Trump.
The commission will not be able to do its job properly until it systematically investigates the activities of numerous Republicans, pro-Trump protestors, the Trump White House, and Trump himself.
So, now, he just got a seat on the commission, and he doesn’t even have to be present.
If any of these prospective witnesses fail to meet with the commission’s prosecutors willingly, the only solution would be subpoenas, and now the Republican-appointed commissioners have the power to invalidate the entire investigation.
Consider the following list of potential witnesses for the commission:
Rep. Mark Meadows is a former member of the House of Representatives (R-NC). He was Trump’s White House chief of staff at the time, and he can justify what went on at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue during the treasonous attack on Congress. This includes Trump’s own conduct during the riot he instigated, such as if he was pleased when it began.
Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Mo Brooks (R-AZ) are all members of the House of Representatives. Ali Alexander, an activist for the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” campaign, claims that he collaborated with this group of Trump supporters to plan an operation on January 6 that would bring “maximum pressure” on Congress when it voted to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. Under oath, all three participants should be questioned.
Without a doubt, the enigmatic Ali Alexander needs to be called on the table.
House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). During the attempted insurgency, the House Republican leader allegedly had a furious, expletive-laced phone conversation with Trump, during which Trump suggested he will not call off the rioters. This call’s specifics must be discussed.
Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend. According to Alexander, he spoke with Guilfoyle, a former Trump campaign official, on the night of January 5, and she encouraged him. It’s important to know what she stated to him and who she was speaking for.
Roger Stone is up to his neck in the insurrection. Trump’s longtime advisor was often seen with individuals later involved in the incident and suspected of conspiring to carry out the raid prior to the January 6 attack. In fact, some of them were responsible for keeping Stone safe. Stone also sought to collect funds for “private security” and supplies for activities in Washington on the 5th and 6th of January, which followed the brutal Capitol raid. Stone also has been convicted of lying to Congress, even if he was commuted by Trump, so getting him on record is the only way to litmus his honesty after reviewing his statements against the entirety of all the testimonies.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s ex personal counsel and dirt-digger, delivered one of the most explosive remarks at the pre-riot protest. His Manhattan home and Park Avenue office were recently searched by the FBI. “Let’s have a trial by combat,” he encouraged the crowd just as large sections of the crowd began to make their way for Capitol Hill.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. During the riot, McCarthy sought support from Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and top aide, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called Ivanka, the president’s daughter, to avert the invasion.
Kellyanne Conway was the senior adviser to the White House. As the assault was taking place, the former Trump White House senior strategist called an aide who was standing by the president’s side. What she said and what was said to her would be enlightening.
Kayleigh McEnany was the White House press secretary. Then, according to reports, White House press secretary McEnany was with Trump after the attack and urged him to speak out about the violence. What he said to her is important.
Mike Pence had rioters asked for the former vice president to be executed, and some demanded that he be hanged. Pence got calls from political officials furious that the National Guard had not been mobilized while he was in hiding. His testimony as to what happened that day to him and his safety needs to be on the record.
Donald Trump, because it was his riot.
There are plenty of other potential witnesses for a 1/6 commission. Several Republican members of Congress called White House aides during the melee and beseeched them to encourage Trump to call off the terrorists-for-Trump. Other White House officials saw what was transpiring in the West Wing during the attack. Their accounts could be valuable.
Lest us not forget the Republican members who aided the terrorist, the days leading up to the riot and the day of the insurrection. Marjorie Taylor-Greene and Lauren Boebert, amongst others. These members need to testify and be questioned with evidence we now know happened.
The financial cost is mounting.
Here is the reality of costs to the taxpayers because of the insurrection.
25,000 National Guardsmen were mobilized to protect the inauguration of President Biden.
More than a month after the Capitol riots, roughly 6,200 National Guardsmen are still in the nation’s capital, said Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Christian Mitchell.
Kirby told reporters on Monday that of the approximate $483 million needed to support the current National Guard deployment, $284 million would go to manpower and $199 million to operations.
According to Kirby, the Army National Guard will receive $256 million for personnel expenses and $165 million for activities. The Air National Guard would need approximately $28 million in payroll costs and $34 million in operational costs.
Then there is the costs to repair damages done to the Capitol buildings and the money federal prosecutors will inevitably spend as the cases of alleged rioters are adjudicated in the courts. Those costs are in the millions and there are no real numbers yet determined.
Then there is the immeasurable cost of human life.
The riots claimed the lives of five people.
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, a former Air National Guardsman who was beaten with a fire extinguisher and later died of a stroke.
Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran who was shot and killed while trying to crawl into Speaker’s Lobby in the Capitol Building through a broken window, after being warned to stop.
Then there are the two Capitol police officers who died by suicide after the violence.
The public is entitled to a complete, no-holds-barred account of the disaster on January 6.
But, at this junction, the new 1/6 commission has the power to block the truth from ever coming to light, by pure deliberate design.