Beyond the faintest doubt, America needs an official investigation into the January 6 insurrection at our nation’s Capitol.
It really is a no-brainer, so much so that 35 House Republicans — Republicans! — found their spines late Wednesday and voted in favor of a bill to create a national, bipartisan commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol by a Trump-supporting mob incited to violence by the “big lie” that Trump had lost the election.
Those 35 Republicans broke ranks with the rest of their party in Congress because they saw the clear and unavoidable truth: A violent attack is not a “normal tourist visit,” even if one of your colleagues says otherwise.
They did their job as public servants to demand an investigation.
Even so, the legislation now faces an uncertain fate, at best, in the Senate, where 10 Republicans will need to defy Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to save the bill from a filibuster.
Other options must be on the table.
America cannot “move on”
President Biden could create a commission via executive order, something Lyndon B. Johnson did when he established the Kerner Commission to examine the civil unrest of 1968.
Attorney General Merrick Garland could appoint a special counsel to investigate the attacks. But it’s unclear whether a special counsel would have the authority to investigate matters that are not criminal, such as security or intelligence failures that may have allowed the Jan. 6 attack. Or, the House could create a special committee on its own, though it’s easy to imagine House Republicans doing their best to derail that.
A national commission, created through bipartisan legislation, would be best. But if the only attainable option is imperfect, so be it.
Journalists and historians will write books about January 6. More details will emerge in the coming months as criminal cases against hundreds of alleged insurrectionists work their way through the courts.
Books and court cases are valuable, yet incomplete, sources of information. The public deserves an official, complete account — as our nation got from the 9/11 Commission.
Once the commission completed its work, it issued a nearly 600-page report that became a surprise bestseller. Americans by the hundreds of thousands bought the report because they wanted a trustworthy accounting, from their government, of the first attack by foreign terrorists on our own country’s soil.
Americans deserve no less now. Domestic terrorists attacked our nation’s Capitol, and there can be no looking away.
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