The House of Representatives voted on May 19 to pass a bill establishing a commission to probe the Jan. 6 demonstration in Washington, D.C., during which tens of thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump voiced their anger at the certification of what they believed was a fraudulent election.
The legislation was passed by a vote of 252-175, with 35 Republicans voting yes. Two Democrats and one Republican did not cast votes.
A Questionable Development
One highly irregular twist developed just hours before the vote when every member of Congress received a letter supposedly signed by members of the Capitol Police Department. However, none of the alleged signatories identified themselves – which raises significant questions about the authenticity of the communication.
Capitol Police officially distanced themselves from the missive, releasing a statement saying the department “has no way of confirming it was even authored by USCP personnel. The U.S. Capitol Police does NOT take positions on legislation.”
In part, the letter to members of Congress read:
“On Jan 6th, where some officers served their last day in U.S. Capitol Police uniform, and not by choice, we would hope that Members whom we took an oath to protect, would at the very minimum support an investigation to get to the bottom of EVERYONE responsible and hold them 100 percent accountable no matter the title or position they hold or held.”
Bad grammar aside, it should be noted that no Capitol Police officers died as a direct result of any actions taken by protesters in Washington on Jan. 6. One officer died later in hospital, though it has since been confirmed by a medical examiner that his death was the result of a pre-existing medical condition. The ME further revealed that the officer in question, Brian Sicknick, had no signs of the physical injuries several media outlets claimed he sustained on Jan. 6.
It’s Not About Violence
Though many on the political left shrugged as violent left-wing mobs rampaged through several American cities during 2020 – and, at least on the West Coast, continue to do so – Democrats in Washington were incensed when Trump supporters descended upon Capitol Hill on Jan. 6. Despite several ongoing congressional probes into the events of that day – not to mention a full-blown Department of Justice investigation – Democrats have been pushing hard for the formation of what is often described in the media as a “9/11-style commission” to investigate the pro-Trump protest that has been characterized as an attempted insurrection.
In recent days, the two top Republicans in Congress, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), have both come out against the legislation to establish this commission. Both men cite the various ongoing probes into the Jan. 6 events and suggest that such a law will do nothing but widen the partisan divide.
In comparison to the aforementioned civil unrest of 2020 – which resulted in multiple fatalities and many more serious injuries, millions of dollars worth of damage to private businesses, federal buildings, police stations, and unknown numbers of privately owned vehicles – the Jan. 6 demonstration in the nation’s capital could fairly be described as a relatively peaceful event. Not a single store or private business was damaged or looted, no cars were burned, no bystanders physically assaulted, and the only fatality was that of a young female Trump supporter who was shot at point-blank range by a Capitol Police officer.
It seems the purpose of such a commission, which will be steered by Democrats, is to brand the supporters of former President Donald Trump as violent revolutionaries who pose an ongoing threat to American democracy and even national security. There is much speculation that another intended purpose of the body will be to somehow engineer the permanent expulsion of Donald Trump from American political life.
“What is clear is that House Democrats have handled this proposal in partisan bad faith,” McConnell said on May 19 as he announced his decision not to support the commission:
“From initially offering a laughingly partisan starting point, to continuing to insist on various other features under the hood that are designed to centralize control over the Commission’s process – and its conclusion – in Democratic hands.”
The bill faces a major obstacle in the Senate, where even Susan Collins (R-ME), upon whom Democrats can often rely for an extra vote, has revealed that she will not support the bill as is. To gain the support of ten GOP senators is extremely unlikely. Sensing defeat, senior House Democrats have already signaled their intention to press ahead with a congressional inquiry of their own, should the bill not make it to the Oval Office.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.