By Rachel Loeb
A Capitol Police officer testifying before the committee
The January 6th Commission is a select committee of the United States House of Representatives, formed on July 1st, 2021, in order to investigate the insurrection that occured at the United States Capitol on January 6th. Although the Rules and Homeland Security committees in the Senate already had investigations looking into the response from the National Guard and police, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formed the January 6th Committee to investigate the events that led to the instigation of the attempted coup. At this time, the Committee has not made as much progress in uncovering the events that unfolded as they would have hoped; many of the people they are subpoenaing still have to go to court, and there may still be more subpoenas to be issued.
The committee was initially brought to the House as an independent commission, as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, modeled this attempt off of the Committee launched in 2002 formed to investigate the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It passed through the House of Representatives with 252 votes supporting it, 35 of which were Republicans. However, when brought to the Senate, it failed to gain a simple majority. Subsequently, Nancy Pelosi decided to form a select committee, and she appointed several representatives. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy nominated 5 Republicans to join the Committee- however, Nancy Pelosi rejected the nominations of Representatives Jim Banks and Jim Jordan because of their actions against the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election. After finalizing the selection, the committee now has nine members, two of which are Republicans.
The Committee has sent out around 35 subpoenas to people with a wide range of involvement in the January 6th insurrection. From close Trump allies, organizers of the rally, and the Capitol Hill police to the Trump Campaign and former White House officials, the Committee is dedicated to uncovering the truth. However, this effort has proved tedious as a couple of Trump allies such as Former White House Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President Steve Bannon and Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows refused to cooperate, and the Committee had to pass a resolution for them to be held in contempt of Congress. Trump also filed a lawsuit in an attempt to prevent the Committee from getting White House information, like emails, visitor logs, and other government records relating to the 2020 election. Making these people participate is the main struggle the Committee is currently facing. The people refusing to cooperate are key figures in the investigation and the records may include pivotal evidence.
Sending subpoenas and bringing people to court is not all the Committee has done though. Liz Cheney, the top Republican on the Committee, said that they have already spoken to “a whole range of people connected to the events, connected to understanding what happens.” The committee has apparently already interviewed over 200 people, but since most of this action has happened behind the scenes, it's difficult to know specific details like how many and which people are talking and handing over documents. However, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren has confirmed that the Committee has received nearly 25,000 documents and an additional 200 tips.
Despite the seemingly large amount of information they have gathered, subpoenas sent, and interviews hosted, the January 6th Committee still has a long way to go. The real issue is that it has already been ten months since the rioters stormed the Capitol. Forcing these witnesses to cooperate is also very time-consuming. The fear is that by the time they will have received the information they are seeking, the January 6th Committee may become old news to the public and not as big of a priority to investigate.
Photo Credit: WHYY