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Independent commission to investigate Capitol riots

WASHINGTON DC, USA: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said Congress would establish an “outside, independent” commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump.

In a letter to lawmakers, she said the commission would be modelled on the inquiry into the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

“We must get to the truth of how this happened,” she said.

Former President Trump was acquitted by the Senate of inciting the violence.

But Democrats and some Republicans have backed an independent probe into the riots, which left five people dead.

Pelosi said that US Army Lieutenant General Russel Honoré had, over the past few weeks, been assessing the security needs of the Capitol in light of the attack.

“It is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened,” she said.

The commission, she said, “would investigate and report on the facts and causes” of the attack; “the interference with the peaceful transfer of power”; and the “preparedness and response” of both the Capitol police and other branches of law enforcement.

She also said that, based on Lt Gen Honoré’s initial findings, Congress needed to allocate additional funding to “provide for the safety of members and the security of the Capitol”.

Trump survived his second impeachment trial – the only president to face the process twice – on Saturday after Democrat prosecutors failed to secure the two-thirds majority needed to convict him.

The vote split largely along party lines, with the seven Republicans joining the Senate’s 48 Democrats and two independents in voting to convict.

The senior Republican in Congress, Senator Mitch McConnell, had voted against conviction on constitutional grounds, but after the vote declared Trump “responsible” for the assault on the Capitol.

“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office,” McConnell told the chamber. “He didn’t get away with anything yet.”

Other Republicans have also expressed support for an independent inquiry into the riots, including a close ally of Trump, Senator Lindsay Graham. He said the former president bore some culpability for events on 6 January.

“His behaviour after the election was over the top,” Sen Graham said. “We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again.”

Pelosi said the “outside, independent 9/11-style Commission” would seek to review the “facts and causes” behind the breach. “We must get to the truth of how this happened,” Pelosi asserted.

Pelosi’s remarks come after the Senate on Saturday voted to acquit Trump of his role in the breach during an impeachment trial. Seven Senate Republicans voted to convict the former president, joining all 50 Democrats in the upper chamber, but this ultimately fell short of the 67 senators needed for conviction.

Some Republicans have also called for a 9/11-style commission into the breach. Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina and a staunch Trump ally, said the probe would be needed to better protect the Capitol from future intrusions.

“We need a 9/11-style commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again, and I want to make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time,” Graham told Fox News on Sunday, adding that Trump’s behaviour after the 2020 election was “over the top.”

After it was clear that Joe Biden won the November election, Trump continued to deny the results, claiming there was widespread voter fraud without any concrete evidence. Trump’s legal team, led by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, filed lawsuits across the country disputing Biden’s win, but the cases failed to prove the fraud allegations.