Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe

Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe
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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris MORE (D-Calif.) huddled Tuesday with key committee heads to mull a strategy for investigating the Capitol attack of Jan. 6.

They later emerged in the same spot as before: vowing further examination into the deadly riot but without a concrete plan for doing so.

“When we’re ready, we will make an announcement,” Pelosi told reporters after the closed-door meeting.


Pelosi last month laid out different scenarios Democrats might pursue following the Senate defeat of their preferred investigative strategy: the establishment of a 9/11-style independent commission to probe the causes of the mob attack and make recommendations for preventing similar violence in the future.

While they continue weighing their options, they’ve landed on an intermediary plan. 

“Each committee's going to work within its own jurisdiction, and we're going to consider a select committee,” Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBiden backs effort to include immigration in budget package Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Britney Spears's new attorney files motion to remove her dad as conservator MORE (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, explained after the gathering.

“I personally favor [a select committee], but no final decision's been made,” he continued. “We're just looking into all different ways of doing it.”

While they develop their longer-term strategy, Pelosi said there will be a “cascade of activity” as the House Homeland Security, Judiciary, Intelligence, Oversight, Appropriations and Administration committees continue to carry out their Jan. 6 investigations already underway. As part of that effort, the Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing Tuesday examining the delayed response of the National Guard after the assault on the Capitol.


Complicating Pelosi’s final verdict about a path forward, rank-and-file Democrats are all over the board when it comes to which option they favor.

Many are joining Nadler in calling for the creation of a select committee, composed of lawmakers from both parties and equipped with subpoena authority. 

Others want to empower one existing committee, like Homeland Security, to take the lead of a deep-dive investigation, perhaps using similar parameters as those outlined in the independent commission proposal.

At least one Democrat, 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 (Va.), is still pressing for President BidenJoe BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions MORE to form an investigative commission unilaterally — an idea both Pelosi and the White House have resisted.

And still others are hoping Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy MORE (D-N.Y.) will stage another vote on the outside commission, which fell just three votes shy of defeating a GOP filibuster last month.

“We want to get answers but we want to do it the right way,” said Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellCalifornia Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's riot lawsuit Tech executives increased political donations amid lobbying push MORE (D-Calif.), a Pelosi ally who served as a prosecutor in the second Trump impeachment trial. “I think it’s important to find out what happened, but I don’t want to rush if we have an opportunity to get a good Senate vote.”

Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarLatina lawmakers discuss efforts to increase representation The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 Migrant children at military bases: What is Biden doing? MORE (D-Texas) acknowledged the likelihood that three GOP senators would flip their votes in a second round is small. “I'm not hopeful,” she said.

But such a vote would again put Senate Republicans in the difficult position of rejecting a probe into the historic breach of the U.S. Capitol — the first such incident since the War of 1812 — and highlight GOP efforts to defend former President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE, whose lies about a “stolen” election helped instigate the attack.

“We waited, gave them another shot at it to see who's on which side,” Escobar said. “Those are really important markers for history."

Connolly hasn’t thrown in the towel on the idea of a Biden-created presidential commission, but it’s received a cool reception from both the White House and Pelosi. A former Biden Senate staffer, Connolly said he believes a presidential commission would be seen as less partisan than a special House committee where both Pelosi and 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.) could stack it with party loyalists.

Rep. Madeleine DeanMadeleine DeanLiberals tone down calls to 'defund police' amid GOP attacks The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe MORE (D-Pa.) said she’s “not opposed” to the idea of a White House commission but cautioned that it could be seen as “one president’s commission exploring the past president, who could attempt to be his [2024] opponent.”

Dean, another prosecutor in Trump’s second impeachment trial, called it “baffling” why Republicans are blocking the independent commission.

“It's not even rational. What's their motivation? What are they covering up? What are they complicit in?” asked a frustrated Dean. “And how tethered are you to this failed president that you're willing to sacrifice our democracy?”

As the debate evolves, some are warning that the longer Democrats wait to finalize their investigative plans, the tougher it’ll be to realize them.

"I think especially because many folks would like to see it end by the end of the calendar year, that means the longer we delay, the more elusive that deadline becomes,” said Escobar. “We have to do something and I think we have to move quickly.”