Former DHS secretaries call on Senate to approve Jan. 6 commission
Four former secretaries of Homeland Security on Thursday urged the Senate to approve an independent commission to investigate the Capitol riots of Jan. 6 as Republicans appear poised to block the creation of such a panel. Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge, who served in the George W. Bush administration, and Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson, who served as DHS secretaries in the Obama administration, called on the Senate to "put politics aside and create a bipartisan, independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol."
"We must understand how the violent insurrection at the Capitol came together to ensure the peaceful transfer of power in our country is never so threatened again," said in a statement organized by the nonprofit group Protect Democracy.
Barring last minute changes, only a few Republicans are expected to back a bill to establish a commission to probe the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. The bill must get 60 votes in the Senate to pass, meaning at least 10 Republican senators would have to support the legislation, which already passed in the House.
Two Republicans have said they will support the bill: Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mitt Romney (Utah), both of whom voted to convict former President Donald Trump for inciting a riot on Jan. 6 with his false and incendiary claims about the 2020 election.
But most of the 50-member caucus has raised a myriad of objections to the bill, arguing that the commission would be politicized, raising concerns about how the staff would be hired and that it would spill past its end-of-the-year cutoff date.
The House bill, negotiated by a bipartisan duo, mirrors the language on staffing included in the 9/11 commission.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) argued that Republican lawmakers who vote against a bill to establish a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack could be seen as “not wanting to let the truth come out.”
Romney, one of just two GOP senators who have came out in support of the House-passed bill expected to be brought before the Senate this week, told CNN that Republicans’ vote on the measure could have profound effects for how voters look at the party.
"I think the perception is on the part of the public that the January 6 Commission just trying to get to the truth of what happened, and that Republicans would be seen as not wanting to let the truth come out," the senator said.
"I don't believe that's what's the motivation but I think that's the perception,” added Romney, who earlier this year was one of seven GOP senators to vote to convict former President Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 mob.
Romney and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who also voted to convict Trump, support the House bill, but it is expected to fall short of the 10 Republican senators needed to overcome a filibuster.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she would vote in favor of opening debate on the bill so she can propose an amendment making changes to the legislation.
Collins had told reporters earlier Wednesday, “I want to see a commission. ... There are a lot of unanswered questions, and I'm working very hard to secure Republican votes for a commission.”
The Maine senator specifically plans on addressing GOP concerns on provisions of the bill that would allow Democrats to hire all commission staff and that would stretch the commission into 2022.
The majority of the Senate GOP has opposed the commission, arguing that it would be a deeply partisan and unnecessary probe and that standing committees can look at Jan. 6.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused the House proposal of being “slanted and unbalanced.”
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is expected to bring the legislation for debate in the Senate, slammed Republicans, arguing they've changed their stories for why they oppose the bill.
“What’s really going on here? Why the various shifting reasons? ... It seems the real reason has nothing to do with the structure of the commission, nothing to do with the details of the bill. It all has to do with politics,” he argued.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is telling associates he had no idea his Justice Department seized phone records of two top Democratic congressional critics of then-President Donald Trump. In the hours since The New York Times broke the news on Thursday that prosecutors subpoenaed Apple metadata from Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA), former Attorney General Sessions has privately told people that he wasn’t aware of, nor was he briefed on, the reported data seizures while he led the Trump DOJ. This week’s revelations were a surprise to him, according to a source familiar with the matter, and another person close to Sessions.
The FBI says that Brian Mock went to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 unsure of what he would face, but as he shared on social media just days later, he was prepared to fully commit to whatever came his way — even death. “I went to the Capitol not knowing what to expect but said goodbye to my 4 children, not sure if I was going to come home,” Mock wrote on Facebook on Jan. 8, according to federal documents charging Mock with multiple crimes. “I was at peace with that knowledge.” Mock, 43, is one of the latest people to be arrested for crimes related to the siege on the U.S. Capitol, according to a statement from the Justice Department.
The US justice department’s internal watchdog launched an investigation on Friday after revelations that former president Donald Trump’s administration secretly seized phone data from at least two House Democrats as part of an aggressive leaks inquiry related to the Russia investigation into Trump’s conduct.
Donald Trump called Joe Biden a “mental retard” during the 2020 election, a new book says, but was reluctant to attack him too strongly for fear the Democrats would replace him with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama. Biden went on to beat Trump by more than 7m in the popular vote and by 306-232 in the electoral college, a result Trump deemed a landslide when it was in his favor against Clinton in 2016.