House investigation continues through Jan. 6 insurrection anniversary

Rioters storm the West Front at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the insurrection. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

It’s the one-year anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and the House of Representatives is continuing to investigate the incident.

One year ago, the U.S. Capitol was breached in a mob’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The insurrection began after former President Donald Trump invited supporters to Washington, D.C., and urged them to stop Congress from carrying out its constitutional mandate to certify the election results, naming president elect Joe Biden as the winner. During the insurrection that followed, five people were killed as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.

The House of Representatives has organized a Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and over the past year the committee has made multiple attempts to determine what happened before and during the event.

The committee’s first hearing was held on July 27, 2021, to hear firsthand the experiences of police officers who experienced the insurrection. In the following days, Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson made a statement regarding the deaths of Gunther Hashida and Kyle DeFreytag, two of the police officers stationed at the Capitol.

“These officers heroically answered the call on Jan. 6,” Thompson said. “Their courage and perseverance in the face of a violent mob helped prevent the upending of American democracy. History will record what these patriots did on that dark day, and the entire country mourns their passing.”

Since then, the committee has asked at least seven Executive Branch agencies to provide information related to the attack. The committee also requested information from four individuals tied to the former president, organizers of rallies and events preceding the attack, and Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Former President Trump and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have both filed lawsuits against the Select Committee in response to the investigation.

Former White House Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President, Steve Bannon, also was chastised by the Select Committee and ultimately indicted for contempt of Congress for failing to comply with the investigation.

BYU professor of international relations Ken Stiles said that while the events of Jan. 6 were extremely important in and of themselves, more important is the aftermath Americans saw in the following months.

“[Due to] Trump’s hold on the Republican Party and his continued sympathy for the rioters, many Republican office-holders feel compelled to down-play the events or even support them. This has heavily influenced how ordinary Republican voters have viewed the events,” Stiles said. “The end result is that a large number of Americans feel that using violence to halt the certification of a national election is justified.”

Stiles also said that the impact on many people, including those in BYU’s campus community, is that they will feel the need to choose between democratic traditions and their party’s priorities. Heavy media coverage of one-year anniversary of the event will include President Biden’s planned address to the nation on Thursday.

Answering allegations from some Democrats that prosecutors are doing too little to pursue justice, Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters on Wednesday that the Justice Department is determined to continue prosecuting the organizers and insurrection participants for their actions “consistent with the facts and the law.”

The Select Committee will continue to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection in the coming months.

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