“Officer Hodges, you characterized the attack on the Capitol as a ‘white nationalist insurrection.’ Can you describe what you saw that led you to label the attack that way?” asked Rep. Pete Aguilar, a California Democrat, during the opening session of the select committee to investigate the January 6 siege.
Hodges, noting that the pro-Trump mob was made up of “overwhelmingly white males” and that they didn’t say anything “especially xenophobic” to him, said he was treated differently than his non-white fellow officers.
“Some of them would try to, try to recruit me,” he told the committee. “One of them came up to me and said, ‘Are you my brother?'”
He went on to note that there were many white supremacist-linked organizations at the Capitol on January 6th. “Three percenters, Oath Keepers, that kind of thing,” he said.
“People who associate with Donald Trump, I find more likely to subscribe to that kind of belief system,” he added.
Hodges and other officers’ testimony highlighted the overt racism of the insurrectionists. A fellow officer testifying before the committee, Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who is Black, testified that he and other officers of color faced a “torrent” of racist epithets and threats during the insurrection.
“With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision.”
In response, McCarthy claimed Pelosi’s rejections of his committee picks “represents an egregious abuse of power and will irreparably damage this institution,” he said in a statement.
“Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees, Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts,” McCarthy added.
On Monday, McCarthy named five Republicans to serve on the January 6 House select committee to investigate the Capitol insurrection – Banks as the ranking member, and Reps. Jordan, Rodney Davis, Kelly Armstrong, and Troy Nehls. Nehls also voted against certifying Biden’s win in Arizona and Pennsylvania.
The legislation that established the January 6 commission gave Pelosi the authority to veto any of McCarthy’s selections.
Pelosi said in the statement she met with McCarthy on Wednesday regarding “the objections raised” regarding his appointments and “the impact their appointments may have on the integrity of the investigation.”
The GOP plans to use Republican spots on the January 6 select committee to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the Capitol riot, CNN reported, citing Republican sources familiar with discussions.
The House voted earlier this week to create a committee to investigate the insurrection on the US Capitol. The committee is to be made up of 13 members selected by Pelosi, a Democrat, with five of those choices to be made in consultation with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
According to CNN, once McCarthy picks his five lawmakers, the Republican plan is to have them make the case that Pelosi should have done more to protect the Capitol, and shift blame from former President Donald Trump onto Pelosi.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene would like to serve on the House select committee that will investigate the Capitol riot, the congresswoman told CNN in an interview published Saturday.
When asked by reporter Jim Acosta if she’d like to serve on the committee, Greene responded: “Sure, she should put me on the committee. That would be great.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced earlier this week she is forming a select committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection after Senate Republicans blocked a bill last month that would have established an independent, bipartisan commission to study the riot.
Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are expected to select representatives to serve on the committee, which is still being formed.
When asked by Acosta if former president Donald Trump is responsible for the riot, Greene said: “absolutely not.”
Greene is among the Republicans who have been accused of downplaying the riot, but she told CNN that the Capitol defendants are criminals that “need their day in court.”
Recently, Greene has been pushing unfounded claims that the FBI might have been involved in the Capitol riot. In a letter sent to FBI Director Chris Wray and Capitol Police on Friday, Greene pressed the issue, asking if any federal law enforcement agents were “participants or attendants” at the riot or rally that preceded it.
She has also spread unsubstantiated claims about the integrity of the 2020 election, including falsely saying that President Joe Biden did not win the election.
“He’s got quite a collection of characters to choose from. It’s not my expectation given Kevin McCarthy’s past practice that he will do anything other than bend the knee to Donald Trump,” he said. “We’ll see what horror show Kevin McCarthy gives us that we will have to deal with.”
The House Administration Committee will hold another public hearing on the Capitol riot in the wake of a flash report by the inspector general, which the chairwoman said revealed “disturbing inadequacies” in the Capitol Police’s preparation and response to the attack.
House Administration Chairwoman Rep. Zoe Lofgren announced Wednesday that the committee will host its fifth hearing on the events of January 6 – more than any other congressional committee has held on the matter. The date of the hearing is yet to be set.
US Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton will appear at the hearing to discuss the findings of the latest flash report, which “identified significant deficiencies pertaining to the Department’s Containment and Emergency Response Team and First Responders Unit and made more than 20 recommendations,” according to a statement from Lofgren.
Lofgren said in the statement that Bolton’s “latest flash report reveals, again, disturbing inadequacies in the Department leadership’s preparation for, and response to, the January 6 attack.”
“Examining these latest findings and recommendations will assist the Committee as we contemplate reforms,” she continued.
The report also raised “such significant and troubling concerns” that Bolton delivered an urgent advisory to USCP leadership before the probe was fully complete.
The announcement of the House Administration Committee’s hearing comes after Senate Republicans blocked a bill to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection.
“Despite Senate Republicans’ shameful filibuster of a compromise, bipartisan bill to establish an independent commission to investigate the deadly insurrection and attack on the capitol, the American people deserve answers,” Lofgren said.
Former GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia on Sunday said that if former President Donald Trump went missing, not many Republicans would be “in the search party.”
Comstock made the statement during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where she discussed the Senate’s rejection of a bill that would have set up an independent commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
The bill to authorize the commission, H.R. 3233, was crafted through a bipartisan deal led by Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and GOP Rep. John Katko of New York, the panel’s ranking member.
Last month, the House bill passed in 252-175 votes, with 35 Republicans joining Democrats to support the legislation.
Last Friday, a motion to advance the bill in the Senate was defeated in a 54-35 vote, receiving the support of all present Democrats and six Republicans but failing to meet the 60-vote threshold to overcome the filibuster.
Before the Senate vote, Comstock went to Capitol Hill with the family of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, along with Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn and DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, in order to meet with Republican senators and convince them to support the legislation.
Host Chuck Todd pointed out GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana’s argument that an independent commission would have more credibility than a legislative panel hand-picked by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.
Todd said that if GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was in the same position, he would have opted for a congressional commission.
“Well, that was exactly the argument that we were making to the senators,” Comstock said.
She added: “I understand Republicans want to get away from Donald Trump. I mean, if Donald Trump disappeared tomorrow, I don’t think you’d have many Republicans in the search party. Maybe a few prosecutors, but not Republicans.”
Comstock said that although Trump isn’t in the rear-view mirror with most Republicans, an independent commission needs to happen.
“They want to get away from him, but the problem is he’s not going to go away,” she said. “But this is not about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about the country and it’s about getting to the truth, and it’s about protecting the Capitol, the people who work there, and also making sure this never happens again.”
The family of fallen Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick expressed disappointment at Senate Republicans who on Friday blocked a bill from advancing that would have created a commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection.
During a CNN interview with anchor Jake Tapper, Brian’s mother, Gladys Sicknick, and his partner Sandra Garza said that after meeting with several GOP senators on Thursday, they held out hope that they could convince senators who were opposed to the commission to change their minds.
Gladys Sicknick said that the eventual outcome wasn’t totally shocking to her.
“They went through their motions, but you can tell that underneath they were being nice to us,” Gladys Sicknick told Tapper of her meetings on Thursday. “If they had a child that was hurt or killed on a day like that, they would think very differently. One of the congressmen could have been killed. Apparently, they think … ‘Well we’re safe because of the men in blue.'”
Officer Sicknick suffered two strokes and passed away on January 7, a day after fighting back rioters at the Capitol. The Washington, DC, chief medical examiner ruled that he died of natural causes.
Garza said that the pro-law enforcement rhetoric from opponents of the commission are “all talk and no action.”
“It speaks volumes to how they really feel, not only about the events of that day, but speaking volumes to their constituents and how much they really care,” she said. “It’s not just our pleas about how we felt about Brian and his brothers and sisters and blue, but also the safety of them and everyone else that was in the Capitol that day.
She added: “Clearly, they’re not backing the blue … This cannot happen again. It cannot. For them to vote no, it’s not protecting law enforcement, and more importantly, it’s not protecting our democracy.”
Gladys Sicknick, Garza, Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, and DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone on Thursday met with over a dozen Republican senators after initially requesting meetings with all 50 GOP senators.
“They were very charming, they knew what they were doing, they knew how to talk to us, but we kind of held back,” Gladys Sicknick said. “It was just … it was tense.”
A motion to invoke cloture and advance the bill was defeated in a 54-35 vote, receiving the support of all present Democrats and six Republicans but failing to meet the 60-vote threshold to overcome a legislative filibuster.
Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Rob Portman of Ohio were the only Republicans to vote in favor of moving to debate on the bill.
Gladys Sicknick expressed hope that some of the GOP senators shifted their position because of their meetings.
“Maybe we changed their minds,” she said. “That would be great.”
Garza said many of the Republicans said they would reject the commission because it would be “partisan,” despite the legislation calling for an evenly split committee, with five members selected by congressional Democratic leaders and the other five members picked by GOP leaders.
“Well you know, that’s baloney,” she said. “I think they just don’t want to do the right thing. I think what you’re seeing is elitism at its finest.”
Still, Garza appeared upbeat about lawmakers continuing to push for answers to January 6.
“I’m hopeful at least they’ll be able to reflect on some of what we said as the days go on, and they’ll be able to start to get the ball rolling now.”
Gladys Sicknick, in seeking answers for her son, reflected on his valiance that day.
“I said this morning, I said I can’t believe I have a child that’s going to be in the history books for all the wrong reasons,” she said. “Because he was such a good person, and he was so good at his job. And he was texting all his buddies to see if they were ok on that day, while he was fighting for four-plus hours without any help.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Friday ripped into his Republican colleagues in the Senate who blocked a bipartisan bill to authorize the establishment a commission on the fatal January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.
“It is a painful day for American democracy that Senate Republicans blocked legislation creating a commission to investigate the Jan. 6th insurrection. Today in America, democracy is under assault and authoritarianism, conspiracy theories and political violence are on the rise,” Sanders said in a statement.
“I applaud the six Republicans who voted for the commission, but I am saddened that so many others are too intimidated by Trump to do the right thing,” Sanders added.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also criticized Republicans for derailing the bill.
“Shame on the Republican Party for trying to sweep the horrors of that day under the rug because they’re afraid of Donald Trump,” Schumer said on Friday.
Former President Donald Trump vehemently opposed setting up a January 6 commission. “Republicans in the House and Senate should not approve the Democrat trap of the January 6 Commission,” he said in a statement. “Republicans must get much tougher and much smarter, and stop being used by the Radical Left.”
The 10-member commission would’ve had subpoena power to gather information about the deadly attack. It would’ve been similar to the 9/11 commission, with the bill mandating the release of a final report by the end of the year with findings on the causes of the riot and recommendations on how to prevent similar attacks on the future.
The bill, which passed in the House with the support of 35 GOP lawmakers, didn’t garner the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster in the upper chamber. On Friday, a motion to invoke cloture and advance the bill was defeated in a 54-35 vote. Just six Senate Republicans joined Democrats to vote in favor of advancing the bill.
Though a number of Republicans supported the bill, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell both came out against it. Republicans opposed the bill because they worried a January 6 commission would hurt their chances in the 2022 midterms by keeping the focus on Trump and his role in provoking the insurrection.
“They would like to continue to litigate the former president into the future,” McConnell said at a news conference on. Tuesday. “We think the American people going forward and in the fall of ’22 ought to focus on what this administration is doing to the country.”
Both McConnell and McCarthy were initially heavily critical of Trump over the Capitol attack. The House GOP leader said Trump bore responsibility for the events that day, while McConnell excoriated the former president for a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.”
Trump incited the Capitol riot via repeated lies about the result of the 2020 election. He falsely and repeatedly claimed that the election was stolen, pushing baseless assertions of mass voter fraud. The former president was impeached for a second time in mid-January for provoking the deadly insurrection. Five people died during or shortly after the attack, including a Capitol Police officer.
Despite criticizing Trump’s actions, McCarthy opposed impeaching him and McConnell ultimately voted to acquit the former president.
Trump in his post-presidency has persisted in falsely insisting that he won the 2020 election, and polling has consistently shown that a majority of Republicans falsely believe that President Joe Biden did not legitimately win. There’s no evidence of mass voter fraud regarding the election. Voter fraud in the US is extraordinarily rare.
Republican lawmakers in Washington have continued to exhibit unwavering loyalty to Trump, as evidenced by Friday’s vote on the January 6 commission as well as the recent ouster of GOP Rep. Liz Cheney as the number three Republican in the House. Cheney refused to endorse Trump’s “big lie” about the election, and was ostracized as a result.
On May 19, the bill made it through the House of Representatives with a 252 to 175 vote; 35 Republicans joined Democrats to pass the bill and send it to the Senate.
Rep. John Katko, who is the House Homeland Security Committee’s top Republican, struck a deal with Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat, on the legislation around the commission. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, however, did not endorse the bipartisan effort.
In the Senate, at least 10 Republicans would need to defect from the party leadership stance to help move forward the legislation. In total, 60 votes are needed for the January 6 commission bill in the Senate to bypass a likely filibuster.
One of the complaints issued by GOP senators is that the legislation wouldn’t be bipartisan – like the previously established September 11 Commission.
Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week that he would oppose what he called the “slanted and unbalanced” creation of the bipartisan commission and asked other Republicans to vote against it as a personal favor.
“It’s not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could lay on top of the existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress,” McConnell said.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, rejected the January 6 commission legislation because he wanted it to look more like the legislation passed into law that set up the commission that investigated the terror attacks of September 11.
On the House floor, Rep. Katko said, “this legislation is modeled directly on the legislation that created the 9/11 Commission.”
“I encourage all members, Republicans and Democrats alike, to put down their swords for once, just for once, and support this bill,” he added.
In some sections, the bills are nearly identical in their functions, intentions, and even language.
The 10 commission members would be chosen equally between Democrats and Republicans, and the text for both commissions says that the bodies would be responsible for advising “corrective measures” aimed at preventing “terrorism” in the future.
The only difference in membership is that for the September 11 Commission, former President George W. Bush was able to select the commission’s chair, while Democratic leadership in Congress picked the vice-chair. In the January 6 commission legislation, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer would share the responsibility of selecting a chair. The vice-chair is chosen by the Senate minority leader and House minority leader.
The language in both bills in terms of how the commission is staffed is identical, saying, “the Chairperson, in consultation with the Vice-Chairperson, in accordance with rules agreed upon by the Commission, may appoint and fix the compensation of a Staff Director and such other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to carry out its purposes and functions.”
Both bills stipulate that the appointees to the commission be nongovernmental, however, in the January 6 legislation, appointees must have at least two areas of specialty – whereas the September 11 Commission does not specify how many areas of expertise members must have. They both single out intelligence gathering, governmental service, and law enforcement as areas of expertise, while the September 11 Commission asked for specialties specific to that tragedy, such as aviation and foreign affairs.
The ability to produce subpoenas in the January 6 commission closely tracks the structure of the September 11 Commission as well, and a majority of commissioners (which would mean a bipartisan vote), or agreement between the chair and vice-chair is required to approve them.
Due to the bipartisan structure of the January 6 draft bill, Republican commission members could vote in a block to stop subpoenas, or alternatively, a high ranking Republican could overrule the other commissioners with an agreement with the chair.
Part of McCarthy’s opposition to that language could be because he could face a subpoena from the commission, as he spoke to Trump on the day of the insurrection, pleading with him to call off the rioters.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he were subpoenaed. I think that he very clearly … said publicly that he’s got information about the president’s state of mind that day,” Rep. Liz Cheney told ABC News.
Much of the linguistic differences revolve around describing the acts of January 6 as domestic terrorism, as opposed to an act of terrorism carried out by foreign agents, as was the case with the September 11 Commission.
The commission’s stated purpose is in part:
(1) To investigate and report upon the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex (hereafter referred to as the “domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol”) and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement in the National Capitol Region and other instrumentality of government, as well as the influencing factors that fomented such attack on American representative democracy while engaged in a constitutional process.
The breach of the Capitol on January 6 interrupted the certification of the 2020 presidential election results by Congress. The lives of members of the US House of Representatives and the US Senate and their families and staff, along with the then Vice President of the United States Mike Pence and his family were put in danger. Five people died during the siege (including a US Capitol Police officer, whose mother lobbied GOP senators to vote for the commission).
The GOP response to the legislation
This is where things get tricky, as the make-up of the current GOP is fractured.
Former President Donald Trump told GOP members to squash it. Many are still in the grip of Trump, whose supporters largely made up the mob, and were told by Trump during a “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the insurrection to march to the Capitol.
Those in leadership have hinted that the commission would be a political inconvenience ahead of the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election.
“A lot of our members … want to be moving forward,” said Sen. John Thune, the second most important Senate Republican. “Anything that gets us rehashing the 2020 election, I think, is a day lost on being able to draw contrast between us and the Democrats’ very radical left-wing agenda.”
And there’s a minority of those who want to investigate the breach of the US Capitol by an armed mob – even if it may expose some in the Republican Party.
Sen. Mitt Romney has called out his party for the broad opposition members have taken to a January 6 commission.
“Republicans would be seen as not wanting to let the truth come out,” said Romney. “I don’t believe that’s what’s the motivation but I think that’s the perception.”
Capitol Police officer Michael Fanone met with Republican Sen. Ron Johnson ahead of the Senate’s vote on the January 6 commission.
Fanone was one of the police officers defending the Capitol when a pro-Trump mob breached the building, attacking officers and forcing lawmakers to evacuate. Video obtained by CNN showed the moment Fanone was assaulted. Prosecutors said Fanone was shot with a stun gun, beaten with a flagpole, and had a heart attack.
Fanone has been vocal about the violence he experienced that day, saying he had PTSD as a result. He has also criticized Republicans who have tried to downplay the day’s events.
On Thursday, the Senate was expected to vote on a bill that would establish a commission to study the events of January 6. Ahead of the expected vote, Fanone met with Johnson and “let him have it,” sources familiar with the meeting told CNN.
The outlet reported the meeting was tense and included a discussion of Johnson’s comments about the riot, which he referred to as “by and large a peaceful protest” last week. ABC reported Fanone said he was exhausted after having to relive the events of the insurrection on Thursday.
The Wisconsin senator also met with the family of Brian Sicknick – the Capitol Police officer who had a stroke and died one day after being confronted by rioters at the Capitol – including Sicknick’s mother, Gladys Sicknick, and his longtime partner, Sandra Garza.
Gladys Sicknick told reporters on Thursday she came to the Capitol to urge lawmakers to vote in favor of the January 6 commission, adding that she “couldn’t stay quiet anymore.”
Following the meetings, Johnson released a statement saying he “respectfully disagreed on the added value of the proposed commission” but that he committed to “doing everything I could to ensure all their questions will be answered.”
He also said he thanked Fanone and expressed his “strong support for law enforcement.”
Most Senate Republicans have said they do not support the commission, arguing it should include other unrelated incidents of political violence. A few Republican senators have indicated they are going to support the bill, including Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
The House passed the bill last week, with 35 House Republicans voting in favor of it.