House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she is creating a select committee to investigate the causes of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and recommend ways to prevent what she termed an “insurrection” from happening again.
The move was expected, though Mrs. Pelosi previously denied reports that she had decided to create the select committee after Senate Republicans killed a bill to create an independent commission to study the riot.
“I have no intention of walking away from our responsibility,” Mrs. Pelosi said when announcing plans to create the Democrat-run select committee.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, though, has said he expects it to be a purely political, and partisan, exercise.
“Unfortunately, the speaker has played politics on this time and again. She’s never once talked to me about it. I’ve sent her numerous letters, followed up on them and she never once wanted to talk to me about it,” Mr. McCarthy said at a press conference Wednesday.
Indeed, Mrs. Pelosi said the commission will examine questions that appear aimed at implicating Mr. Trump, who was impeached by the House for inciting the riot but acquitted by the Senate.
Mrs. Pelosi said the committee will in part examine the root causes of that day, including “White supremacy, antisemitism and Islamophobia,” all issues Democrats have accused Mr. Trump of having whipped up.
Describing what the committee will examine, Mrs. Pelosi already blamed Mr. Trump.
“While I think we could have been better prepared, I don’t think anyone could have foreseen an insurrection incited by the president of the United States,” she said.
Asked by reporters whether she fears the committee’s findings will be dismissed as a political hit job, Mrs. Pelosi laid the blame on “cowardly” Senate Republicans who refused to examine a “day of darkness for our country.”
Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Ben Sasse of Nebraska broke with GOP leaders to support the proposed commission, which would have had an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, both with subpoena power.
Mrs. Pelosi said she has been waiting to see if a bipartisan commission could be resurrected in the Senate. After seeing no signs of hope, she said she decided to move forward with a select committee.
“I asked, ‘Is there a chance for it to pass?’ We gave it some time. ‘Not soon. Not likely,’” she said.
Rep. Chip Roy, Texas Republican, questioned the need for the new panel when a number of House committees are already examining aspects of what occurred that day.
“This is kind of D.C. chasing itself,” he said.
Senate Republicans also have argued that the left has been the cause of recent political violence and demanded any probe include an examination of the riots stemming from last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.
“Why wouldn’t we study what had built up in the summer,” Mr. McCarthy said.
Mrs. Pelosi dismissed the idea. “They wanted to make it about Black Lives Matter. That’s not what happened on Jan. 6,” she said.
The makeup of the select committee was not immediately clear, though Mrs. Pelosi said she hopes Mr. McCarthy will appoint “responsible people” to the committee.
Mrs. Pelosi also gave no deadline for the committee to report its findings to Congress.
“As long as it takes — the time they need to do the investigation,” she said.