Just Six GOP Senators Join Democrats Supporting Independent Commission to Investigate Jan. 6 Attack on Congress
The idea of an independent commission to examine how the Jan. 6 insurrection attack on the U.S. Capitol sank yesterday, courtesy of committed Republican opposition in the Senate.
With only six Republicans backing it, there just were not 60 required votes for approval of the House-passed commission proposal as Democrats tried to get the bill passed before recess.
It’s just a huge disappointment that partisanship reigns supreme over actual fact finding.
Next, the small Democratic majority in the House is going to ram home an investigation in which it drives the investigatory work, writes the majority conclusion and fends off attempts to link all that we saw from mobs of Donald Trump supporters committing crimes to Black Lives Matter, Antifa leftists in drag or maybe UFO aliens.
The leading Republican idea here seems that investigating the insurrection will keep the attack in the headlines, and Republican candidates will be burdened in upcoming elections.
No matter how clean, clear, precise or professional that effort, it will drive the political divide wider. We can predict easily that there will be at least two versions that will purport to tell the truth.
It is just like all the propaganda we hear daily now from those who would protect Trump at any cost from owning his responsibilities.
The leading Republican idea here seems that investigating the insurrection will keep the attack in the headlines and Republican candidates will be burdened. Somehow they think it better just to have to face the question of why they oppose seeking out the facts. “The real explanation is political cynicism in the extreme,” argues Susan Glasser in The New Yorker.
What we won’t get are conclusions that all parties will accept or any moderation of extreme opinions. Despite 400 arrests of pillagers on a variety of criminal charges by federal agencies, almost certainly no criminal charges will be made for those who sat on their hands in the Oval Office. Trump watched the riot on TV rather than quickly dispatching National Guard troops to quell a citizen rebellion.
Crime Does Pay
Apparently, political crime does pay dividends. Protecting the guilty makes for good politics for the next round of elections.
Republicans Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – with support from Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia — were working colleagues to join some kind of bipartisan compromise. It was seen as better-than-not alternative to full bloc opposition and to avoid a fight over the future of the Senate filibuster. Party leadership was set in stone.
The cynicism here should make all blush. For Republicans, it is better party politics to be on the side of insurrectionists insisting on the Big Steal and committing crimes than to disown Trump. Who cares if it sends American democracy further down the rathole?
Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasn’t playing poker. Everyone knows her options, she said, meaning that she will create her own investigatory group and stack it any way she wants. She is mindful of the 35 Republicans in the House who supported a bipartisan compromise for the independent commission.
For Republicans, the very nature of the excuses was appalling. Too soon, said some. Too political to trust that Democrats won’t use the results in campaigns, said others.
Then there are those like Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., who argue that there was never anything wrong that day and this is way too much fuss about nothing.
The Capitol was overrun, the vote-certification process was abruptly stalled, congressional leaders and former Vice President Mike Pence were threatened with bodily harm and five died, including Capitol police officers. Trump, who brought insurrectionists to Washington, sent them to the Capitol and watched on television while doing the bare minimum hours late, was gleeful.
Something did happen.
And yet, there are reports of polls showing that vast numbers of Republicans who depend on social media for their information accept the idea that it was not a Trump-supporting mob to blame that day.
For now, at least, only the guys wearing silly antler hats are going to pay.
What We Don’t Know
If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was going to pass on a commission because there are other investigations already under way, the least we could have had is an enumeration of what is and isn’t known.
Yes, hours of citizen and surveillance videos have been used to identify hundreds of rioters, to say nothing of those still boasting to their dentists about being at the Capitol that day.
But we’re not privy to what federal investigators have learned to date about the organizers of the rioting. We have no idea of the specific roles played by Trump’s inner circle of advisers like disrupter Roger Stone and lawyer Rudy Giuliani. We have little idea about the sources of organizing money and arrangements.
We have no official word on what went on in the White House other than news reporting about the glee that Trump was displaying to staffers. We have no credible and full readout from law enforcement and even the Pentagon about who issued what orders and when on refusing to deploy the National Guard.
We have never gotten an explanation from those Republican Congress members who were leading groups through the Capitol in the day preceding the attack, other than self-serving talk of family tours. If it is all on tape, why has it never been shared other than for reasons of political cover.
Yes, the House has asked Capitol police for certain information, to guide spending on items like fencing to protect the Capitol in future attacks. And some former Pentagon brass have owned up to some recalcitrance in staging National Guard units in sufficient numbers based on the perceived optics of overreaction to citizen protests. Why was handling of a Black Lives Matter protest near the White House over the top?
The FBI, Homeland Security officials and others have testified, but their words have been general and not naming names and charges.
McConnell and Republicans have not explained why if Trump is proud of what these rioters accomplished on Jan. 6, he does not own his actions.
When Trump does that, I’ll agree we don’t need an independent commission.