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

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPhotos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Hospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level 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 Democrats miss chance to help McAuliffe Progressives see infrastructure vote next week Dem hopes for infrastructure vote hit brick wall MORE (D-Va.), who had predicted the Jan. 6 violence based on the rhetoric from then-President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth 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 BidenPfizer CEO says vaccine data for those under 5 could be available by end of year Omicron coronavirus variant found in at least 10 states Photos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles 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 PenceHaley has 'positive' meeting with Trump Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mitch McConnell's great Trumpian miscalculation 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-CortezHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level McCarthy laments distractions from far-right members MORE (D-N.Y.). 

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

Rep. Sean CastenSean CastenMcBath to run in neighboring district after GOP redrew lines Democrats expect to pass .75T Biden package this week Newman announces she'll challenge fellow Democrat Casten in newly drawn Illinois district 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 HuffmanOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Kerry announces climate statement with China Pelosi defends America's 'moral authority' on climate action Liberals, moderates strike deal on Biden agenda, clearing way for votes 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 PocanWith Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps Dems brace for score on massive Biden bill House passes trillion infrastructure bill, advances social spending plan 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 BrooksJan. 6 organizers used burner phones to communicate with White House: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House Democrats eye big vote on Biden measure Meadows comes under growing Jan. 6 panel spotlight 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 McCarthyGOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level McCarthy laments distractions from far-right members Ruth Bader Ginsburg Women of Leadership Award given to Queen Elizabeth 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 JordanWith extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Jim Jordan reveals he had COVID-19 this summer The Memo: Gosar censured, but toxic culture grows 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 CoonsHouse passes bill to expedite financial disclosures from judges Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems seek to preserve climate provisions Democrats wrangle to keep climate priorities in spending bill  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) MalinowskiDemocrats to target Section 230 in Haugen hearing CNN airs live footage of its reporting on tennis star being censored in China Lawmakers increasingly anxious about US efforts against Russian hackers MORE (D-N.J.) uttered four words you rarely hear from a Democrat: “I trust Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellUS could default within weeks absent action on debt limit: analysis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown Senate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal 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 WilliamsLessons learned from a failed bet on 'Housing First' The CFPB's data overreach hurts the businesses it claims to help Early redistricting plans show GOP retrenching for long haul 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 beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots GOP's Banks burnishes brand with Pelosi veto Lawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection 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 SwalwellGOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips 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.”