- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 23, 2021

Rep. Peter Meijer, Michigan Republican, said Sunday that Republicans who are trying to block a commission on the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol are laying the groundwork for a more partisan panel dominated by congressional Democrats.

“By shooting this down, we’re playing into [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi’s hands,” Mr. Meijer said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Senate Republican leaders have signaled opposition to House-passed legislation establishing the commission, likely dooming the effort unless significant changes are made.

Mr. Meijer, one of just 10 Republicans who supported the second impeachment of President Trump in January in connection with the incident, said Mrs. Pelosi originally wanted a commission stacked with Democrats, comparing it to House Republicans’ select committee on the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

“She doesn’t want a commission that’s going to be emphasizing what she knew and when, what security lapses may have occurred, what failures there were in responsiveness to the events of that day that allowed the security barrier to fall,” he said. “She doesn’t want that.”

Thirty-five House Republicans joined with Democrats last week to approve legislation establishing the commission. The legislation would set up a 10-member panel, equally divided between the two parties, to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. Issuing subpoenas would require a majority of members.

But critics say the commission would interfere with ongoing law enforcement investigations and that several congressional panels are already probing the events of Jan. 6.

“I think you’ve got to decide, what’s the priority here?” Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Is the priority to secure the Capitol, to do what we need to do to better train, better prepare Capitol Police, decide what we want to do in the future? Or is the priority to take what will be a couple of years, in my view, to decide what happened inside the White House?”

The Biden administration endorsed the House-passed bill establishing the commission, saying the country needs a “full and fair accounting” of the events to prevent future violence.

Mr. Trump, who rallied supporters near the U.S. Capitol hours before the violent storming, called the commission a “Democrat trap.”

“It is just more partisan unfairness and unless the murders, riots and fire bombings in Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago, and New York are also going to be studied, this discussion should be ended immediately,” Mr. Trump said. “Republicans must get much tougher and much smarter, and stop being used by the Radical Left.”

Democrats say Republicans don’t want a comprehensive investigation of the incident because of misguided loyalty to Mr. Trump and concerns over what such a probe would reveal about what the former president was doing while the attack was taking place.

Rep. Madeleine Dean, Pennsylvania Democrat, said Republicans are engaged in a broader whitewashing of the events.

“I think it is a perverse tethering to the former president and a belief that maybe somehow if we try to forget about all of this, they’ll stay in power,” Ms. Dean said Sunday on MSNBC.

Mr. Trump released a video on the afternoon of the riots calling the protesters “special” and saying “we love you” as he told them to go home — a statement that even Trump allies said fell woefully short given the severity of the events taking place inside Congress.

The former president later released a video condemning the violence. The riot had temporarily halted the counting of the Electoral College vote tally that affirmed President Biden’s victory.

Facebook and Twitter suspended Mr. Trump’s social media accounts in January, saying they feared incitement of violence in the run-up to Mr. Biden’s inauguration in light of the events on Jan. 6.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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