Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she would be creating a select committee to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Numerous questions remain about that day, when a heavily armed mob of Trump supporters breached Capitol barriers in an attempt to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. Five people died and scores were injured in what was the first attack on the building since 1814.
In May, Republicans in the U.S. Senate dealt a blow to accountability when they blocked the establishment of an independent commission to thoroughly investigate the events before, during, and after the attack. While Senate committees recently released a report containing policy recommendations aimed at addressing the underpreparedness of federal agencies on Jan. 6, an investigative body dedicated to studying the attack is necessary to get answers to several important questions.
While a bipartisan commission was the best possible way to achieve a full reckoning and single narrative account about the disturbing attack on Congress, a select committee represents the next best option for getting answers to a number of unexplained issues. American Oversight’s investigation of the events of Jan. 6 has included the filing of more than 50 requests as well as three lawsuits seeking records that could shed light on many of those remaining questions.
A major unknown from that day revolves around how the Trump White House responded to the attack and what accounted for the delay in authorizing the deployment of National Guard troops to assist at the Capitol. Reporting indicates that while watching the events unfold from the White House, President Donald Trump took little action as the situation escalated, despite he and his closest advisers — including his daughter Ivanka Trump and his chief of staff Mark Meadows — receiving phone calls describing the danger. It wasn’t until about 4 p.m., two hours after the first barriers were breached, that the White House released the infamous video in which Trump told the rioters to “go home,” adding, “We love you. You’re very special.”
Meanwhile, there was a more than three-hour delay in the deployment of National Guard troops after Capitol Police first called for backup at 1:49 p.m. Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Robert Salesses testified before Congress that Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy received approval from acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller at 4:32 p.m., but did not explain why D.C. guard commander Gen. William Walker wasn’t informed until 5:08. Miller’s congressional testimony in May failed to fully explain what was behind the protracted wait.
American Oversight is awaiting responses to numerous requests to find out how the Trump administration responded that afternoon:
The days and hours leading up to Jan. 6 also bear further scrutiny. Given how openly the attack was planned online, the failure of various intelligence agencies to anticipate — or of law enforcement to adequately prepare for — the threat is a major concern.
Only the day before the attack, an FBI field office in Virginia had issued a warning about potential violence, but the report apparently never was run up the right channels. And according to the recently released Senate report, the U.S. Capitol Police had intelligence two weeks in advance that indicated Trump supporters planned to stage an armed invasion of the building. Recent reporting from ProPublica also suggests that top Trump aides knew in advance about the potential for violence.
American Oversight is seeking records that could provide more information about these failures:
The mob attack on the U.S. Capitol was a frightening demonstration of how the lies about voter fraud have ballooned into very real threats to our democracy. Those same lies are on display in the bogus recounts and investigations being undertaken by partisan actors in various states, as well as the slew of new voting restrictions being unleashed across the country.
Nearly half a year after the deadly events of Jan. 6, as those lies continue to erode faith in democracy, Americans are still without answers to key questions about that day. Through our Freedom of Information Act requests and litigation, American Oversight has been working to provide those answers. You can follow our investigation here.
Part of Investigation: