Seven House committees launched an investigation Thursday into federal handling of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, demanding communications in the month preceding the violent breach and in the days that followed it that might provide further insight into security and intelligence failures.
In letters to 16 agencies, first reported by Politico, the panels requested all communications sent between agency officials regarding Congress’ Jan. 6 session, across the Executive Branch and Congress, when lawmakers certified Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. The requests demand all relevant documents and messages from Dec. 1, 2020, to Jan. 20, 2021 by early April.
The committee review comes as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) struggled this week to secure bipartisan cooperation for an independent commission to review the federal government’s handling of the attack, which left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. The Justice Department has advanced more than 300 federal cases related to the riot.
“We understand that the Department continues to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in the events on January 6, 2021,” they wrote in a letter to the Justice Department. “We are happy to work with you to ensure that the document requests in this letter do not interfere with ongoing investigations and prosecutions.”
The panels pursuing the Jan. 6 response are the Judiciary, Oversight, Armed Services, House Administration, Appropriations, Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.
The requests prioritized threat and intelligence assessments, security response timelines, disciplinary measures and communications with participants or groups involved or associated with the events.
The letters were issued to the White House, National Archives, Justice Department, FBI, Pentagon, National Guard, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Interior, U.S. Park Police and the intelligence community.
Pelosi has been pushing for a 1/6 Commission reminiscent of the post-9/11 review authorized nearly two decades ago after the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks in 2001. The commission would investigate “the influencing factors that fomented such attack on American representative democracy while engaged in a constitutional process,” a draft proposal said.
But questions about the scope of what the commission would investigate, including demands by the GOP to review racial justice protests last summer and antifa, have stalled those plans. Earlier this month, Republicans further bristled at Pelosi’s suggestion of Republicans picking four commissioners to Democrats’ seven.
During a press conference on Thursday Pelosi claimed that while Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had expressed initial receptiveness to the commission he later “dumped all over” the proposal that pushed for an investigation into the Capitol riot by a mob of Trump supporters.
“We have to find the truth and we will,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday. “We’re not walking away from that.”