Politics aside, it’s apparent a deep dive into the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol is necessary to help determine what, exactly, happened and why it occurred.
Unfortunately, it’s quite political.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to seat two Republicans on the committee prompted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to boycott Republican participation.
Unfortunately, the gamesmanship means North Dakota Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong is not participating on the panel. Armstrong, who has a background in law, was among McCarthy’s nominees and would have been an asset to the process.
McCarthy’s boycott means Armstrong is out and Republicans now are only represented by Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., both of whom have been critical of former President Donald Trump. It draws suspicion that Pelosi seeks to accomplish a predetermined outcome, and that’s not a healthy way to conduct a fact-finding mission.
Nevertheless, the first days of testimony show the panel is unquestionably necessary. Comments given in the opening days by U.S. Capitol and D.C. Metro police officers were a combination of shocking, heartbreaking and infuriating.
There were 150 officers that day at the Capitol, facing an estimated 9,000 rioters, many of whom were armed with guns, Tasers, clubs and zip ties. Those weapons and accoutrements indicate a planned insurrection, rather than just an event that got out of hand. It certainly wasn’t the “lovefest” and “beautiful thing” that Trump described in the weeks after the riot.
One officer, Michael Fanone, was overwhelmed by the rioters. He said they beat him, seized his ammunition and shocked him repeatedly at the base of skull with a Taser. Other officers were doused with harmful sprays while insurrectionists waved pro-Trump flags and reportedly said “Trump sent us.”
Republicans earlier this year blocked an attempt to convene a panel in the style of the former 9-11 Commission, and now the continued partisanship could disrupt the select committee’s work.
The panel must perform an important task: Determine what happened, but doing so while avoiding the appearance that it is a witch hunt. Having more Republicans on the committee would have helped.
Why is it so important? Because this was the first time the Capitol was breached since the British stormed it in 1814. Democracy itself was threatened.
Congress needs to rise above the partisanship and solve any mysteries that remain from the Jan. 6 insurrection.
It was not a peaceful protest. It was not a lovefest. These were not good people.
America deserves to know how it happened so it never happens again.