BY DAVE GOLDINER AND CHRIS SOMMERFELDT
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/TNS
Congress will form a 9/11-style commission to investigate how far-right attackers were able to storm the U.S. Capitol last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Monday, ensuring continued scrutiny over former President Donald Trump’s role in the deadly insurrection despite his impeachment acquittal.
In a letter to Democratic colleagues, Pelosi, D-Calif., said the establishment of an independent commission is warranted because many questions remain unanswered about the Jan. 6 tragedy, including how much Trump knew about premeditated plots for the invasion.
“We must get to the truth of how this happened,” Pelosi wrote. “To protect our security, our security, our security, our next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type commission to investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol.”
Pelosi hinted that the commission will focus on internal security protocols at the Capitol as well as any Trump actions “relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power.” The commission is likely to be granted power to subpoena testimony and other evidence.
Since Trump’s acquittal on Feb. 13, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have called for a Capitol attack commission, similar to the one Congress launched in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan.
“There should be a complete investigation about what happened,” said Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump during his trial Saturday. “What was known, who knew it and when they knew, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again.”
A deep dive
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a close ally of President Joe Biden, agreed Americans still don’t know the whole truth about what happened, who is responsible and how it could have been prevented.
“There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear,” Coons said. “And that we lay bare the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his constitutional oath President Trump really was.”
In addition to questions about Trump’s knowledge, Democrats have called for a deep dive into who funded the extremist groups that executed the Jan. 6 assault.
Inquiries into the riot were already planned, with hearings scheduled later this month in the Senate Rules Committee.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré has also been conducting a security review of the Capitol complex on Pelosi’s orders.
Pelosi said in her letter that Honoré’s probe has already made clear Congress needs to allocate more funding for security efforts at the Capitol.
A 9/11-style commission would continue the work of the House impeachment managers, who presented a damning case during Trump’s trial about how the Jan. 6 mob acted on his “fight like hell” command as they smashed their way into the Capitol, killed a police officer and disrupted the congressional certification of Biden’s election.
The formation of a commission would likely require legislation.
Right-wing lawmakers on Capitol Hill have already floated the pro-Trump talking point that such a commission should also look at last summer’s racial justice protests.
But Cassidy said he’s confident his fellow Republicans will support beefed-up scrutiny as more details about the riot spill out.
“More folks will move to where I was,” Cassidy said.
Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.S.C., an ardent Trump supporter who voted for acquittal, acknowledged the former president’s words and actions contributed to the violent insurrection.
“His behavior after the election was over the top,” Graham said. “We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again.”
The Senate voted 57-43 on Feb. 13 to hold Trump responsible for inciting the riot, falling 10 votes short of the two-thirds needed to convict.
But the support of seven Republicans — and a blistering rebuke of Trump from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — suggests there’s enough bipartisan appetite for a commission that could likely shed more light on Trump’s actions before, during and after the Jan. 6 attack.