WASHINGTON • US lawmakers, fresh off former president Donald Trump’s impeachment acquittal, are calling for a bipartisan commission to investigate the administrative and law enforcement failures that led to the Jan 6 mob attack on the Capitol and recommend changes to prevent another siege.
Such a commission appears to be the primary remaining option for Congress to hold Mr Trump to account for his role in the assault.
Top lawmakers have quashed the idea of a post-impeachment censure of the former president, and the possibility of barring him from future office seems remote.
Lawmakers in both parties have called for a commission modelled on the bipartisan panel set up after the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Democratic Representative Madeleine Dean, an impeachment manager, called it “an impartial commission, not guided by politics, filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction”.
President George W. Bush signed a law setting up the 9/11 Commission in 2002, to probe what caused the attack, what might have stopped it, and outline how to prevent a similar attack.
After a 20-month investigation, the commission offered three dozen recommendations to reshape intelligence coordination and congressional oversight.
“We need a 9/11 Commission to find out what happened and make sure it (the Capitol insurrection) never happens again,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said.
In the House, rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties have introduced legislation that would establish a commission, with some Democrats proposing a broader examination of the federal government’s response to domestic terrorism and violent extremism.
“We will have an after-action review,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters last month. “There will be a commission.”
She has since been briefed repeatedly by retired General Russel Honore, who has been tapped to examine security on Capitol Hill.
Democrats on Sunday framed a possible commission as a way to not only understand the failures that had led to the Capitol breach, but also to underscore the former president’s role in the events.
“There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons said.
Before last week’s impeachment proceedings, there had been discussion of a bipartisan censure resolution in lieu of a trial.
But lawmakers abandoned the idea as the trial moved forward, in part because Democrats had demanded stronger language than what Republicans were comfortable with.
Asked about the chances for a resolution aimed at keeping Mr Trump from seeking office again, Senator John Thune, the No. 2 Republican, said: “I don’t think that’ll go anywhere.”
Last Saturday, Ms Pelosi declared such a resolution to be “a slap in the face of the Constitution”, adding: “We censure people for using stationery for the wrong purpose. We don’t censure people for inciting insurrection that kills people in the Capitol.”