House Democrats will soon establish a special congressional committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Sunday shows preview: Pelosi announces date for infrastructure vote; administration defends immigration policies GOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation MORE (D-Calif.) announced Thursday.
“It is imperative that we seek the truth for what happened,” she told reporters in the Capitol.
The move, coming almost six months after the deadly riot, indicates that Democrats have no intention of letting Republicans stymie a comprehensive examination of the violence and what led up to it.
Among the outstanding questions Democrats are hoping to answer are the details of what then-President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE was doing throughout the riot; why he took so long to call off the mob; what exactly was said between Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Fifth House Republican comes out in support of bipartisan infrastructure bill Watch live: McCarthy holds briefing with reporters MORE (R-Calif.) during a phone call in the midst of the attack; and what communications, if any, members of Congress had with the rioters before and during the rampage.
“Many questions regarding the circumstances of this assault on our democracy, and the response to it, remain,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi declined to provide details about the composition of the committee, or whom she’ll choose to lead it. But she made clear that its scope will be focused squarely on the attack of Jan. 6 — and not other incidents of political violence, as Republican leaders had demanded. And she left wide open the possibility that the probe could extend into 2022, which would keep the spotlight on the role Trump and the Republicans played on Jan. 6 in an election year when the GOP likes its odds of winning back power.
“The timetable will be as long as it takes,” she said.
The select committee, to consist of lawmakers from both parties, was not the Democrats' first choice for an investigative strategy. But Senate Republicans last month blocked legislation to establish an independent panel — modeled on the 9/11 commission — to conduct the probe.
That vote prompted howls from Democrats, who have portrayed the attack — the first violent breach of the Capitol since the War of 1812 — as an existential assault on the nation's democratic processes. The siege was conducted by Trump supporters who, moved by Trump's false claims of a stolen election, were attempting to block Congress’s certification of his defeat.
Republicans had initially backed an independent investigation. But they're also eyeing gains in the House and the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections — with a shot of winning back both chambers — and they don't want to alienate Trump, who remains enormously popular with the GOP base.
The Senate blockade of the independent commission launched weeks of internal debate within the House Democratic Caucus about the best strategy forward.
Some were pushing to empower a single sitting committee, like Homeland Security, to take the investigative lead, noting that Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonExecutive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump Jan. 6 panel subpoenas four ex-Trump aides Bannon, Meadows Democratic anger grows over treatment of Haitian migrants MORE (D-Miss.), the chairman of that panel, had joined forces with ranking member John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble WHIP LIST: How House Democrats say they'll vote on infrastructure bill Emboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes MORE (R-N.Y.) to author the legislation creating an independent commission.
Others were pushing President BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE to form his own bipartisan investigative panel from the White House — a proposal Pelosi and the administration resisted.
Most Democrats supported Pelosi in allowing the Senate more time to rally enough votes to adopt the independent commission, which fell just three Republican votes shy of defeating a GOP filibuster. Four weeks after that failed vote, however, Pelosi lost patience and announced the select committee.
"We gave it so much time," Pelosi said, adding that the prospects of finding those three votes are "not likely."
"Maybe someday," she added.
Updated at 12:25 p.m.