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Pelosi: Dems want commission focused on Capitol mob attack

Pelosi: Dems want commission focused on Capitol mob attack
© Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWhite House races clock to beat GOP attacks Sunday shows - Infrastructure dominates Liz Cheney says allegations against Gaetz are 'sickening,' refuses to say if he should resign MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Democrats will fight to keep the focus of the Jan. 6 investigative commission on the topic of the attack on the Capitol that day.

Republican leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden to meet Monday with bipartisan lawmakers about infrastructure 100 business executives discuss how to combat new voting rules: report Arkansas governor says 'divisive' Trump attacks on GOP officials are 'unhelpful' MORE (R-Ky.), have recently indicated they want to expand the scope of the investigation to include unrelated cases of political violence, including scattered episodes of rioting that accompanied the national protests against police brutality last summer.

Pelosi, however, said the enormity of the Jan. 6 Capitol rampage — which left at least five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer — demands a targeted probe into that singular event, including the rise of white supremacists and other domestic terrorist groups that stormed the Capitol that day.

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"We had an event on Jan. 6, which I'm sure the world has not forgotten," Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol.

"And so we're saying, 'OK, something happened here. It's about domestic terrorism. We want to solve this,'" she continued. "And I will do anything to have it be bipartisan so ... that it would be well-received by the American people. But if we're talking about scope and saying, 'Well, we've got to go and look at all mob [violence]' — it's the Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Trump faces test of power with early endorsements Trump endorses Rand Paul for reelection MORE school of Jan. 6 investigation as to seeking the truth. And that's most unfortunate."

The reference was to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a staunch ally of former President TrumpDonald TrumpGaetz was denied meeting with Trump: CNN Federal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills Police in California city declare unlawful assembly amid 'white lives matter' protest MORE who has suggested the Capitol attack was perpetrated, at least in part, by "provocateurs" and "fake Trump protesters." Johnson is accusing Democrats of being hypocrites for supporting the Black Lives Matter protests of last year and has called for those groups to be included in any investigation into the role of domestic terrorism in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

McConnell this week seemed to support the idea of expanding the probe.

“If Congress is going to attempt some broader analysis of toxic political violence across this country, then in that case, we cannot have artificial cherry-picking of which terrible behavior does and does not deserve scrutiny,” he said.

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The scope of the investigation is not the only sticking point as congressional leaders haggle over the parameters of the Jan. 6 commission, which is expected to be loosely modeled on the independent investigative panel assembled following the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Pelosi has proposed that the new committee consist of seven members chosen by Democrats and an additional four members picked by Republicans — a lopsided roster that's been roundly rejected by GOP leaders.

Pelosi defended that proposal on Thursday, noting that a recent special commission on women's suffrage consisted of six members: two chosen by Democrats, two by Republicans and two by the president.

"It isn't unusual to give the president [additional seats]," she said.

But Pelosi also dismissed the idea that the panel's composition is the highest barrier to a bipartisan deal on legislation creating the committee, saying that part is "easily negotiated."

The tougher fight, she said, is over the scope of the probe.

"The point is the scope. If you don't know your 'why,' if you don't have your purpose, as to what the purpose of this is, then the rest of it is not the important part of the conversation," Pelosi said.

It remains unclear when the legislation will be finalized. House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse to vote on DC statehood, gender pay gap Moderate Democrats warn leaders against meddling in Iowa race Democrats vow to go 'bold' — with or without GOP MORE (D-Md.) said Wednesday that he and Pelosi both hope it will be introduced before the long House recess in the middle of March. In that case, he said, Democrats will bring it to the floor immediately, along with another bill providing supplemental security funding.

"I hope they could be ready at that time, and I know the Speaker does as well," he said.