Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous'

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCapitol riot defendants have started a jail newsletter: report On The Money: Biden asks Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration | Economic growth rose to 6.5 percent annual rate in second quarter Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure MORE (D-Calif.) has said her proposal to install a Democratic majority on the investigative Jan. 6 commission is rooted in historic precedent and the simple prerogatives of sitting presidents.

But rank-and-file Democrats are citing a very different reason they don't want the panel's power split evenly between the parties: They simply don't trust Republicans to investigate an attack on the Capitol that, in the eyes of livid Democrats, was kindled by those same GOP lawmakers.

“We do not owe delusional deniers a role or a platform in a commission designed to try to ferret out extremism and violence to prevent its recurrence,” said Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHouse bill targets US passport backlog Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe Tlaib, Democrats slam GOP calls for border oversight to fight opioid crisis MORE (D-Va.), who had predicted the Jan. 6 violence based on the rhetoric from then-President TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away MORE and his GOP allies. “These people are dangerous.”

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Connolly’s view is hardly unique. 

In the weeks since a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to block the results of the presidential election, Democrats have been indignant over the conduct of their Republican colleagues before, during and after the siege. Not only had the majority of Republicans adopted Trump’s false claim that the election was “stolen,” many also endorsed formal court challenges to overturn the election results in some states, then cheered the thousands of demonstrators in Washington on Jan. 6 to protest President BidenJoe BidenFirst lady leaves Walter Reed after foot procedure Biden backs effort to include immigration in budget package MyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News MORE’s ascension to the White House. 

After hundreds of those protesters rampaged through the Capitol — threatening to assassinate both then-Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceOfficers' powerful Capitol riot testimony underscores Pelosi's partisan blunder RealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Want to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement MORE and lawmakers and killing a Capitol Police officer — 139 House Republicans voted to nullify the election results in Arizona, Pennsylvania or both. Since then, a number of Republicans have asserted, without evidence, that left-wing activists — not Trump supporters — had conducted the siege. 

“They’re denying that the Trump mob was the Trump mob,” fumed Connolly. 

Infuriated Democrats have struggled to find an outlet for their rage. 

“Across the caucus there are a lot of members — independent of ideology, from the most conservative Democrats to the most liberal Democrats — really asking ourselves: what does it mean when a member votes against the very election they were sent to Congress in? And what kinds of consequences should that have?” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators Ocasio-Cortez, Bush criticize lack of diversity among negotiators on latest infrastructure deal Fetterman slams Sinema over infrastructure: 'Democrats need to vote like Democrats' MORE (D-N.Y.). 

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“The ultimate goal is for there to be actual accountability.”

Rep. Sean CastenSean CastenDemocrat plugs 'hot FERC summer', sings to 'FERCalicious' on House floor OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats lay out vision for Civilian Climate Corps | Manchin to back controversial public lands nominee | White House details environmental justice plan Sean Casten: Congress moving in 'the right direction' on clean energy MORE (D-Ill.) on Monday attempted to punish election-rejecting Republicans by denying fast-track privileges for one such lawmaker seeking to rename a district post office — a routine process that typically proceeds without controversy. Yet only 14 other Democrats joined Casten in the vote; most others warned of the “unintended consequences” of tinkering with fast-track procedures. 

“Probably that's not the mountain we want to die on here,” said Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanHouse at war over Jan. 6 inquiry, mask mandate GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Tempers flare as some in GOP ignore new House mask mandate MORE (D-Calif.). 

The special commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack has become a vehicle that Democrats hope will shed light on which lawmakers, if any, helped the insurrectionists in the attack. 

“When we can actually see the information, I think we're in a much more powerful position then to pursue accountability,” said Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanLawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals Overnight Defense: 6B Pentagon spending bill advances | Navy secretary nominee glides through hearing | Obstacles mount in Capitol security funding fight House panel advances 6B Pentagon bill on party-line vote MORE (D-Wis.).

The new commission is expected to be loosely modeled on the bipartisan panel that investigated the 9/11 attacks, which was renowned for its bipartisan cooperation.

The Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is a much more divisive topic. It was carried out by Trump supporters, and conservatives have continued to raise false claims about the integrity of the 2020 election, including at the Conservative Political Action Conference. On Friday, Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksDOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's riot lawsuit Ex-Sen. Jones rips Mo Brooks over 'irony' remark on Texas Democrats getting COVID-19 Justice in legal knot in Mo Brooks, Trump case MORE (R-Ala.) took part in a panel on “Protecting Elections: Why Judges & Media Refused to Look at the Evidence.”

Negotiations over the Jan. 6 commission have bogged down over the scope of the probe and composition of membership. Pelosi has proposed that Democrats would seat seven panelists, and Republicans would choose four others — a lopsided roster that’s been roundly rejected by GOP leaders.  

“The only reason anything [is] not happening is because of the politics of Pelosi,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyAfter police rip Trump for Jan. 6, McCarthy again blames Pelosi Capitol Police asked to arrest the maskless 228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade MORE (R-Calif.) said Friday. “She wants it one sided.”

Most Democrats have raced to the Speaker’s defense. Ocasio-Cortez, who’s accused Republicans of trying to have her assassinated on Jan. 6, questioned why McCarthy should even be able to appoint members of the panel when he voted to overturn the election hours after the attack, then flew down to Florida to visit Trump just days after Trump left office. 

“I wouldn't be surprised to see him appoint Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanJordan acknowledges talking to Trump on Jan. 6 AP Fact Check rates GOP claim Pelosi blocked National Guard on Jan. 6 'false' Officers' powerful Capitol riot testimony underscores Pelosi's partisan blunder MORE. And so then you have the foxes in the henhouse,” said Ocasio-Cortez, referring to the conservative Freedom Caucus leader and top Trump ally. "I think that the structure that Speaker Pelosi has proposed is a fair one.”

Not all Democrats believe Republicans can’t be trusted with their picks. Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsBottom line Kavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Key Biden ally OK with dropping transit from infrastructure package MORE (D-Del.), a close Biden ally, broke with Pelosi and said on CNN that the 1/6 commission should be evenly divided, just like the previous 9/11 commission.  

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And moderate Rep. Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiHouse lawmakers push for diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics Kean Jr. to run against Malinowski: report The tool we need to expand COVID-19 vaccinations world-wide MORE (D-N.J.) uttered four words you rarely hear from a Democrat: “I trust Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done After police rip Trump for Jan. 6, McCarthy again blames Pelosi The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands MORE.”

“I think he sincerely believes that it was an atrocity against our country and against this institution, and that he believes Donald Trump was primarily responsible. I don't think that was an act,” Malinowski said of McConnell’s impassioned floor speech this month calling Trump “morally responsible” for the attack. 

McConnell “may have chickened out of holding Trump accountable through conviction but I don’t question the sincerity of his belief that Jan. 6 was an atrocity,” Malinowski added, “and I would imagine that he would appoint commissioners who broadly share that view.”

McConnell on Thursday, however, just weeks after saying Trump was morally responsible for the attack, said he would back the former president if he won the GOP nomination in 2024.

Republicans say the fact that Pelosi and progressives are focused on the committee ratios proves they want a partisan outcome. They're concerned the Democrats' intent is simply to drag Trump and Republicans through the mud, over and over, ahead of the 2022 elections.  

“What are they going to vote on? I mean, you want an answer. You want to find out why, how, where, when,” said Rep. Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsGOP divided on anti-Biden midterm message The Hill's Morning Report - Bidens to visit Surfside, Fla., collapse site Trump, GOP return to border to rev up base MORE (R-Texas), who as a teenager met President John F. Kennedy just two hours before he was assassinated, a national tragedy that led to the creation of the bipartisan Warren Commission.

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“You're not trying to beat up somebody,” he said. “Let's find out what caused this and keep it from happening. This is not a beatdown for crying out loud.”

Other rank-and-file Republicans say they just want to put Jan. 6 in the rear-view mirror and get back to legislating. They want the 7-foot fence surrounding the Capitol complex to come down, along with the magnetometers that Pelosi installed at the entrances to the House chamber to prevent Republicans from bringing firearms on the floor. 

“Most of us are just ready to move on and get some things done. That’s the way most people feel,” said Rep. Richard HudsonRichard Lane HudsonGOP's Banks burnishes brand with Pelosi veto Lawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection Pharmaceutical industry donated to two-thirds of Congress ahead of 2020 elections: analysis MORE (N.C.), one of the 139 Republicans who voted to overturn the election. “Things like these magnetometers that the Capitol Police and sergeant-at-arms say serve no security purpose — I think people are tired of it.”

Democrats don’t want to move on without a reckoning with the causes and consequences of the Capitol siege. It’s the reason they say the Jan. 6 commission is needed — and the reason they want the panel to tilt in their favor. 

“An overwhelming majority of their House members voted for a process that incited this mob,” Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellDOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's riot lawsuit Tech executives increased political donations amid lobbying push Justice in legal knot in Mo Brooks, Trump case MORE (Calif.), one of the Democrats who prosecuted Trump’s second impeachment, told MSNBC on Thursday. “So I'm a little bit nervous about giving too much influence to members of Congress who essentially are now asking to have oversight for an event that they are partially responsible for inciting.”