Lawmakers call for 9/11-style commission over deadly Capitol insurrection

Former chairs of September 11 commission have urged Congress and President Biden to act

Alex Woodward
New York
Sunday 14 February 2021 20:31
Impeachment manager says Congress needs 9-11 commission for Capitol insurrection
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Democrats are renewing calls for a September 11-style commission over the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol.

Following Donald Trump’s acquittal in his second, historic impeachment trial on Saturday, some lawmakers have urged Congress to initiate a commission to uncover evidence and create a complete narrative of the riots by a pro-Trump mob on 6 January.

Delaware Senator Chris Coons said that a “9/11 commission” for the assault would “make sure we secure the Capitol going forward and that we lay bare the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his Constitutional oath Trump really was”.

He told ABC’s This Week on Sunday that “there’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear”.

Read more: Follow live updates following Trump’s impeachment trial

Madeleine Dean, one of the House impeachment managers who served as prosecutors in the trial, said “of course there must be a full commission, an impartial commission, not guided by politics, filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction”.

“Hundreds were injured, people lost fingers, lost eyesight ... the Capitol was desecrated, people were terrorised,” she said.

Tom Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton chaired the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which sought to assemble a complete account of the preparedness and aftermath of the attacks on 11 September, 2001.

On Friday, Mr Kean and Mr Hamilton wrote to congressional leaders and President Biden, calling for an independent and bipartisan commission to lead a similar investigation for the Capitol attacks.

The 9/11 commission’s final report concluded that US intelligence agencies and federal law enforcement failed to anticipate terror threats. The commission took more than two years to complete the report.

In their letter, the former commission chairs wrote: “The shocking and tragic assault … requires thorough investigation, to ensure that the American people learn the truth of what happened that day. An investigation should establish a single narrative and set of facts to identify how the Capitol was left vulnerable, as well as corrective actions to make the institution safe again.”

Mr Trump was acquitted after just seven Republicans joined all Senate Democrats in finding him guilty of a months-long campaign to undermine the 2020 election, and encourage violence leading up to a powder-keg rally as Congress certified the results.

House impeachment managers secured a vote to bring witnesses in the trial following a statement from Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera-Beutler about a heated phone call between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Mr Trump during the insurrection.

Democrats argued that additional testimony – and more details about Mr Trump’s calls to lawmakers during the assault – would reveal his complicity.

They ultimately backed away from their request, as lawmakers and Mr Trump’s defense counsel worked out a last-minute agreement to read Ms Herrera-Beutler’s statement into the record.

In her statement, she said: “When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’”

Subsequent reporting has claimed Mr McCarthy responded to the president: “Who the f*** do you think you’re talking to?”

Impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett told CNN on Sunday that “we didn’t need more witnesses... we needed more senators with spines”.

“I think what we did was we got what we wanted,” she said. “Which is her statement, which is what she said, and had it put into the record, and being able to say it on the record, out loud.”

Senator Coons echoed the sentiment: “What we all needed was more Republican courage.”

Witnesses in a Senate impeachment trial do not take the stand and face senators acting as a jury. In order to begin calling witnesses, Democrats and Republicans would have needed to come together on a bipartisan deal governing the deposition process since any resolution would need to clear the chamber’s traditional 60-vote threshold.

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