Pelosi creates select committee to investigate Jan. 6 riot, says 'Republicans are afraid of the truth'

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday announced the creation of a select House committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot following the failure last month of a bipartisan effort to form an independent commission in the Senate.

Pelosi said she hoped the 9/11-style commission would become a reality, but after Senate Republicans blocked its creation, she could not wait any longer to launch a deeper dive into the events surrounding the takeover of the Capitol. She created a House committee to investigate the origins of the attack and make recommendations on how to prevent a future riot.

“Many questions regarding the circumstances of this assault on our democracy and the response to it remain,” Pelosi said Thursday at a Capitol news conference. “It is imperative that we seek the truth of what happened.”

Membership of the committee has not yet been announced, but Pelosi said the body will dig into the root causes of the attack, including White supremacy, and the security issues at the Capitol. She didn’t establish a time frame for results and said the committee will investigate “as long as it takes.”

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The House already passed legislation on May 19 to form an independent panel to investigate the attack with support from 35 Republicans, despite opposition from former President Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. But the effort failed in the Senate on May 28, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell leading a legislative filibuster to block consideration of the commission. 

Many Republicans want to move on from Jan. 6. They’ve raised concerns on whether another investigation is necessary and whether a continued public focus on the attack would hurt their chances of winning the 2022 midterm elections. 

“It is clear Republicans are afraid of the truth,” Pelosi said Thursday. 

Prior to Pelosi’s announcement, McCarthy Wednesday signaled he was satisfied with the investigations underway at the FBI and in the Senate and accused Pelosi of “trying to play politics” with Jan. 6.

Supporters of President Trump climb the west wall of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

On Jan. 6, a mob broke down barricades and stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to stop the congressional certification of President Biden’s Electoral College win as Trump claimed the 2020 election was stolen from him. Lawmakers had to be evacuated from the chambers and take shelter as the intruders were calling for the killing of Pelosi and then-Vice President Mike Pence. About 140 police officers were injured in the riot.

Seven people died during and after the rioting, including Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed that day while trying to break into the House chamber, and three others who died of medical emergencies and two police officers who died by suicide in the days that followed. A third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, collapsed and later died after engaging with the protesters, but a medical examiner determined he died of natural causes.

In all, roughly 500 people have been arrested around the country and charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 attack. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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