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US House Speaker to form a select committee to probe Jan. 6 US Capitol riot

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Rioters stand on the US Capitol building to protest the official election of Joe Biden on Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington DC. (Photo by USA Today)

US House of Representatives Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has made it official that she is constituting a select committee to probe the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, saying it is “imperative that we seek the truth”.

It comes after Senate Republicans blocked passage for a bill passed by the House that called for a bipartisan commission to investigate the deadly insurrection.

A violent mob stormed the US Capitol building on Jan. 6 last year to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election win against the incumbent Republican Donald Trump

At least five people were killed in the deadly riot, including a police officer, which was carried out by right-wing supporters of Trump. More than 480 people have so far been arrested in the case.

“January 6 was a day of darkness for our country,” Pelosi said Thursday, saying the “terror and trauma” to members and staff who were there is something she “cannot forgive”.

Without divulging details about who will head the committee, the US House Speaker said there is no fixed timeline for the committee, which is supposed to probe the causes of the attack.

The official announcement came two days after Pelosi communicated to her Democratic colleagues the need to create a commission, a first serious attempt at getting to the bottom of the issue.

Pelosi said the select committee could be complementary to an independent panel, and that she is “hopeful there could be a commission at some point”.

The previous attempt to create a bipartisan commission, which would have been modeled after a similar panel that investigated the 9/11 attacks, saw dogged resistance from Republicans.    

To save the former US President and their beleaguered party from further embarrassment, many Republicans have made it clear that they want to move on from the January 6 attack, while leaving many questions unanswered, including failure of the government and law enforcement during the riot.

Some Republicans have even dismissed the violence, with one suggesting the Jan. 6 rioters looked like tourists and another insisting that a woman named Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed that day while trying to break into the House chamber through a window, was “executed”.

On Wednesday, a US federal judge harshly criticized Republican lawmakers for downplaying the Jan. 6 attack and violence, questioning "what planet" they are living on.

"I'm especially troubled by the accounts of some members of Congress that Jan. 6 was just a day of tourists walking through the Capitol," US District Judge Royce Lamberth said during a court hearing in Washington. "I don't know what planet these people are on."

"It was not an accident that it turned violent," he said of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. "It was intended to draw to a halt the very functioning of our government."

The judge sentenced Anna Morgan-Lloyd, a 49-year-old Donald Trump supporter from Indiana, to probation, not prison time, after she made an emotional apology to “the American people” for participating in “a savage display of violence”.

She was the first person to be sentenced for participating in the deadly attack, which grabbed international headlines last year and exposed deep fault lines in the US government institutions.  

Earlier this month, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Chris Wray said “serious charges” are on the way in the criminal probe of the US Capitol riot.

"This is a very ongoing investigation and there's a lot more to come," Wray said during an oversight hearing held by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. "I would expect to see more charges — some of them maybe more serious charges."

Appointed by Trump in 2017, Wray has been repeatedly grilled by Democratic lawmakers over what they said were intelligence failures that left law enforcement ill-prepared for the attack.

A recent report by Fox News revealed that the FBI operatives “helped organize, coordinate and orchestrate” the January 6 attack on the Capitol, accusing the US government of hiding the identity of many law enforcement officers involved in it.

Citing the government’s court filing, Fox News host Tucker Carlson said “almost certainly…the FBI operatives were organizing the attack at the Capitol on January 6.”


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