Former President Donald Trump was acquitted on Saturday of incitement to insurgency, after most Republicans in the Senate decided not to convict him. But not everyone is ready to turn the page on the riot on Capitol Hill on January 6 just yet.
Support is increasing in Washington for the creation of a commission to investigate the violent attack and the events leading up to it.
Such an investigation – which would be similar to the federal commission set up after September 11, 2001 – would almost certainly focus some of its attention on Trump’s role in instigating the attack. But he would also look more broadly at administrative failures of federal and local law enforcement agencies, as well as House and Senate sergeants-at-arms.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to her colleagues yesterday saying the House would consider a bill to form a committee. And President Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki said today that he would “support” the creation of such an entity, although she noted that it was ultimately the prerogative of Congress.
“He supports efforts to shed more light on the facts, to ensure that something like this never happens again,” Psaki said.
Representative Katherine Clark, Deputy Speaker of the House, told Politico today that she expected to see “bipartisan support” for the committee. “Americans understand what is at stake here, and this is the next step in coming to truth and accountability,” she said.
Is Clark correct that there will be bipartisan interest in a federal inquiry? Perhaps. Forty-three of the Senate’s 50 Republicans voted Saturday to acquit Trump – denying Democrats the two-thirds majority they needed to convict him – but emotions were mixed, even among those who voted against asking him to accounts.
In a speech that sparked a boost in the Senate, immediately after voting for Trump’s acquittal, Republican leader Senator Mitch McConnell issued a scathing condemnation of the former president. He said there was “no doubt – none – that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for bringing about the events” of January 6.
Like many Republicans in the Senate, McConnell would be happy if Trump never regained his place in the elite of the Republican Party – but with a large majority of GOP voters continuing to support the former president, purge Trump without alienating him. party base would require a high level policy. acrobatics.
And at the end of Tuesday afternoon, Trump launched a meteoric attack on McConnell, issuing a lengthy statement filled with insults – at one point he called the Minority Leader an “austere, brooding and unsmiling political hack. – who urged Senate Republicans to find a new leader. .
For McConnell and other Republicans who want Trump to disappear, a commission to investigate the riot could be a broad, non-adversarial way to initiate the process that could result in official recognition of Trump’s role in the events of the January 6.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a longtime Trump advocate who voted to acquit him on Saturday, told Fox News the next day that he would support a congressional investigation. “We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again, and I want to make sure the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time.” Graham said.
But the commission’s report likely wouldn’t be legally binding, and it wouldn’t necessarily include recommendations on how to hold former officials accountable for their role in the violence.
Some legal scholars have started to suggest that the 14th Amendment could be used to keep Trump out of office, should he ever run again. Adopted in the wake of the civil war, the amendment includes a provision prohibiting any public official who “has engaged in an insurgency or rebellion” from performing their duties in the future. Given that this language is already enshrined in the Constitution, the mere act of passing a resolution of Congress declaring Trump’s actions an insurgency could be a significant obstacle on his path back to public service. But there is no indication that Congress is considering taking this step.
And then there is the possibility of civil lawsuits that could seek damages from Trump. The NAACP this morning filed a lawsuit against Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, arguing they violated the Ku Klux Klan law – which was passed in 1871, shortly after the 14th Amendment – sparking violent theories of the conspiracy that interfered with the constitutional duties of Congress.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court on behalf of Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, who seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
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