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Republicans should support Jan. 6 commission, let truth be told

Congress is inching closer to creating a “National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex.” Ideally, creation of the commission should receive broad, bipartisan support. There is no logical reason it shouldn’t, but political preservation may persuade a large number of Republicans to resist.

There will be such a commission. Unlike other bills where Democratic lawmakers have differences concerning cost and scope — the infrastructure bill and families plan come to mind — Democrats are united about the need to investigate the origins of the Jan. 6 attack, what helped fuel it, the reasons for the security failures that left the U.S. Capitol vulnerable to being overrun, and what reforms are necessary moving forward.

The only question is how many Republicans will do the right thing and support its creation and how many will do the cowardly thing by voting against it to appease President Trump and his fervent supporters. 

The commission will be modeled after the 9/11 commission — officially the National Commission on the Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States — which examined the origins of the 2001 attacks, why the country was not better prepared to prevent them, and which recommended steps to improve national security.

Under the bill in the House, the Jan. 6 commission will have 10 members, including a chair jointly appointed by the House and Senate majority leaders and a co-chair appointed by the House and Senate minority leaders.

Two members shall be appointed by the House speaker; two by the minority leader of the House; two by the majority leader of the Senate; and two by the minority leader of the Senate.

If you’re keeping track that would be five Democratic and five Republican appointees. None of those appointed can be currently serving in government, either as an appointed or elected official. Appointees must have "significant expertise in the areas of law enforcement, civil rights, civil liberties, privacy, intelligence, and cybersecurity."

Unable to complain about the balance of the commission, some Republicans have raised a bogus argument about its scope, insisting that the inquiry also study Black Lives Matter and antifa demonstrations that turned violent elsewhere.

First off, that approach would have made the commission’s investigation debilitatingly unwieldly.

Secondly, there is no comparing an attack on the U.S. Capitol Building on the day Congress was assembled to formally accept the results of the Electoral College with BLM protests that were overwhelmingly peaceful. Granted, those BLM demonstrators who turned to rioting and looting were wrong. Anger and frustration, even over the killing of Black citizens in police custody, does not justify violence. But trying to disrupt the peaceful transition of power, an act unprecedented in U.S. history and based on a lie, is a far different matter.

The attack on the Capitol injured about 140 police officers, and five people died in connection with the riot. Vice President Mike Pence, senators and Congress members had to flee for safety. The Capitol Building was vandalized and symbols of self-rule desecrated. Evidence gathered by congressional committees, the news media, and other groups point to massive security failures and a president who encouraged violence and then did nothing to stop it once it began.

We urge Democrats Rep. Joe Courtney, the 2nd District congressman from eastern Connecticut, and Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy to not only support the commission’s creation, which we know they will, but to reach across the aisle to try to persuade their Republican colleagues to do the right thing.

Republicans in Congress need to realign with democracy, the Constitution, and the rule of law. The 2020 election outcomes in each state were verified by the proper state officials. Legal challenges to those election results were dismissed as without merit by judges appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents.

Republicans who refuse to support this bipartisan, expert review will continue to give refuge to the Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent. They should not continue down the path that led House Republicans to oust Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming from a leadership position because she insisted on the truth in criticizing Trump for encouraging the Jan. 6 attacks.

"The 2020 Presidential Election was, by far, the greatest Election Fraud in the history of our Country," Trump fulminated in a statement Saturday, criticizing Pence for lacking "the courage to send the Electoral College vote back to states for recertification."

Stop appeasing this mendacious man. Show some backbone and support the creation of a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission.

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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