Nothing that Republicans do in the Jan. 6 commission will hand them a win, so they're continuing to fight against Democrats trying to hold an investigation into what happened during the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
First, Republicans demanded that there be supporters of President Donald Trump on the panel. Then they demanded that the Jan. 6 commission investigate a ton of other things that happened outside of Jan. 6. Democrats want an independent commission, but it's going to be difficult to be independent after watching it unfold on live television, through the impeachment trial and in the over 377 arrests since the day.
The Washington Post reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is still pushing for a compromise with Republicans. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) won't say anything about it.
"Behind the scenes, Democrats are developing contingency plans. Pelosi acknowledged this week that one backup option is to appoint a select committee of House members to investigate events surrounding the riot, though she told USA Today that it was 'not my preference'," said the Post. Another would be to defer to congressional committees that are currently examining the failures in planning that left the Capitol vulnerable to attack, which Pelosi has called a potential 'resource' to a future commission, should one be established."
Republican demands to investigate everything other than Jan. 6 doesn't make sense because none of the other protests happened at federal buildings, attacked federal officials or the federal government. Still, Republicans want to build a narrative that the attack on the legislative branch of government is just as bad as burning down a Wendy's.
The whole thing puts Republicans in a difficult spot because they have to placate former President Donald Trump, who is still in control of the GOP.
"We have a real dilemma on our hands," said Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. "The political imperative at this point is to discredit any investigation, to deny any ties either to Donald Trump or to the members of Congress . . . who either helped to plan the [riot] or helped to incite it."
The problem is that Republicans fought against any of the Democratic proposals. If they had allowed their proposals to move forward, they could have easily claimed that the deck was stacked against Trump from the start. By negotiating, they're now stuck helping craft a commission that will ultimately find funds from the Trump campaign paid to put on the rally in which Trump called on his followers to march to the U.S. Capitol. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) confessed that he thought Trump was guilty. He opposed impeachment on the so-called "technicality" that Trump was no longer president. He fought against holding the impeachment hearing until Trump was out of office.
Meanwhile, none of the House committee investigations or hearings have gathered conclusions about what allowed the Capitol to be attacked. In fact, the House Appropriations Committee is the only one to have held hearings with current and former law enforcement or Trump military officials who helped coordinate the security for Jan. 6.
"In recent weeks, public hearings held by the House Judiciary and Armed Services committees have devolved into shouting matches, as GOP members accuse Democrats of ignoring threats from the far left, while Democrats accuse them of equivocating to distract from the fact that far-right extremists have become an active force in the Republican Party," the Post noted.
With a Republican Party divided between being for Trump or against Trump, it'll be difficult to find an independent member of the GOP to appoint. In the 9/11 commission, it was Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Shelby (R-AL). All independent-minded Republican senators have been voted out or run out of office.
"Should the current Congress proceed along a similar timetable, Congress would not set up an independent Jan. 6 commission until next spring, when the 2022 midterm elections season will be heading into primaries where Trump has pledged to play a selective, but active, campaigning role," the Post also noted. "That alone threatens the prospects for achieving the compromise Pelosi has called for."
Republicans would be smart to get it over with because if they fight against it, the commission will reveal findings in time for the 2022 election. If they stop it from happening, it will be a key talking point of the 2022 midterms too.