On the morning of January 6th, 2021, the world watched in horror as the U.S. Capitol was stormed by a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump, causing chaos and destruction in their wake. In the days and weeks that followed, lawmakers and the American public demanded answers as to how this could have happened, and who was to blame for the security failures that allowed it to occur.
Now, almost a year later, the House GOP is planning to launch a new series of investigations into the events of that day, with a focus on the security lapses and failures that led to the breach of the Capitol building. The move has already raised eyebrows and drawn criticism from Democrats, who argue that these investigations will be nothing more than a politically motivated attempt to deflect blame from Trump and his supporters.
The House GOP’s announcement of these new probes came in late December, in the form of a letter signed by five Republican lawmakers who sit on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. In the letter, they outline their plans to conduct a “comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding the breach of the United States Capitol on January 6th, 2021, and the response thereto.”
The letter goes on to state that the investigation will focus on the “numerous security failures” that occurred on that day, including the “lack of preparedness” of Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies, the “failure to coordinate” among these agencies, and the “inadequacy” of the Capitol’s physical security measures.
The House GOP’s decision to focus on these security failures is not surprising, given the widespread criticism that Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies faced in the immediate aftermath of the January 6th riots. At the time, many lawmakers and members of the public were shocked by images of police officers simply standing by as rioters broke windows, vandalized offices, and desecrated the halls of Congress.
In the months since, several reports have shed light on the extent of these security failures, including a scathing report by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that found “numerous missteps” by law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the lead-up to the attack.
The House GOP’s new investigations will likely build on these previous findings, but there are concerns that they may be more interested in deflecting blame from Trump and his supporters than in getting to the bottom of what happened on January 6th.
For example, some have noted that the letter from the House GOP lawmakers makes no mention of Trump’s role in inciting the January 6th riots, despite the fact that he repeatedly spread false claims of election fraud and encouraged his supporters to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Many Democrats are also wary of these new probes because they come at a time when Trump and his allies are continuing to push the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Some worry that the House GOP’s investigations will become part of this larger narrative, with Republicans using them to further undermine confidence in the election and the Democratic party in general.
Despite these concerns, the House GOP’s new investigations into the January 6th riots are likely to proceed, and they could have serious repercussions for those involved in the security failures that allowed the breach of the Capitol to occur.
Already, several Capitol Police officers have been disciplined or fired as a result of their actions on January 6th, and the House GOP’s new probes could lead to further consequences for law enforcement officials who were found to have acted negligently or recklessly.
Additionally, the investigations could reveal new information about the extent of Trump’s involvement in the riots and the degree to which he and his supporters planned and coordinated the attack on the Capitol. This could have political consequences, especially if it is revealed that Trump or his allies played a more direct role in inciting or organizing the riots than previously thought.
Regardless of what the House GOP’s investigations ultimately uncover, it is clear that the events of January 6th, 2021 will continue to cast a long shadow over American politics for years to come. The breach of the U.S. Capitol was a shocking and unprecedented event that highlighted the deep divisions and polarization within American society, and it will take more than just investigations to heal the wounds that it inflicted.