Give committee what it needs to investigate Jan. 6 riot

  • U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley

    U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley

 
By U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley
Guest columnist
Posted9/8/2021 1:00 AM

"And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."

-- President Donald Trump, Jan. 6, 2021

 

We must confront the rise of domestic terrorism and the radical ideology that cynically feeds it. The first step is a thorough investigation of what led up to and took place on Jan. 6.

On Jan. 6, our nation faced the greatest threat to our Constitution in more than a century. I was one of the last members of Congress evacuated from the House of Representatives gallery when rioters attacked the House floor.

"The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters."

-- U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Jan. 13, 2021

That morning, an angry swell of protesters gathered across the National Mall and around the Capitol complex while my colleagues and I took our seats to watch the day's proceedings. After President Trump addressed his supporters and called on them to march to the Capitol, chaos escalated rapidly around the area. Rioters quickly overwhelmed police, removing barricades, and storming the Capitol steps. Eventually, they began to break into the building itself.

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"There's no question -- none -- that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day."

-- U. S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, February 13, 2021

From my position in the gallery, I knew very little of what was taking place outside the Capitol. I wasn't aware that Vice President Mike Pence had been evacuated from the Senate. I wasn't aware that Officer Eugene Goodman was leading members of the mob away from the Senate chambers. I wasn't even immediately aware that the Capitol had been breached.

In fact, my first indication that things had gone horribly wrong was when Speaker Nancy Pelosi was abruptly removed from the House Chamber.

As things escalated, some of the last members in the Chamber huddled between rows of seats. Staring down at the barricade constructed to keep the House floor secure, we could hear tear gas canisters exploding and a gunshot ring out from the direction of the Speaker's lobby.

When we finally fled the chamber, we raced past rioters detained on the floor by Capitol Police, showing just how close we had truly been to our attackers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"An insurrection? No. It was not an attempt to overthrow the government. There wasn't even a weapon found inside."

-- Rep. Jody Hice, May 18, 2021

While I expect it to take months and possibly years to understand what led up to the Capitol siege, much of it happened right out in the open. I have been shocked, but not surprised, at the brazen way some of my colleagues have put party over country and personal gain over the health of our democratic system.

The intelligence failures in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 attack are of particular concern. One of the first revelations has been that the Trump administration repeatedly downplayed the growing threat of domestic terrorism. Members of the intelligence community faced pressure to minimize the threat of white supremacists and right-wing extremists and to instead play up the threat of Antifa.

The Trump administration's efforts to shield white nationalists from responsibility created the intelligence failure that allowed Trump-supporting rioters to overrun the Capitol. His party's broader efforts to bolster election misinformation helped inflame those supporters to take advantage of this failure.

I expect the ongoing investigation led by the select committee to take a close look at the intelligence failures, and I anticipate the committee I serve on -- the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence -- will also investigate.

"If you didn't know the TV footage was from Jan. 6, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit."

-- Rep. Andrew Clyde, May 12, 2021

Our understanding of the influence of misinformation has also grown in the months since the riot. Suspects arrested by the FBI have cited President Trump's big lie as their inspiration. We need a thorough, nonpartisan investigation of the role that misinformation and intelligence failures played in allowing the attack on the Capitol to take place -- especially because as both potential instigators and victims, certain Members of Congress themselves are intimately involved in what happened that day.

That's why I supported an independent commission to investigate the attack and why -- when Republicans blocked that first, best option -- I supported the creation of a select committee.

As Republicans embrace revisionism around the horrific events of Jan. 6, the Committee's work has only grown in importance. Speaker Pelosi has taken action to ensure the committee's integrity is kept intact in the face of bad-faith efforts to prevent the truth from coming out. They must now be given the time and resources to complete their work

• U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley is a Democrat from Chicago representing Illinois' 5th Congressional District.

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