Lawmakers who survived Jan. 6 attack on Capitol still have many unanswered questions

Unless President Donald Trump agrees to testify, under subpoena, the select Jan. 6 committee has basically concluded its investigation into the 2021 attack on the Capitol, and the panel’s nine members are now compiling their exhaustive final report. While the hearings were packed with heart pounding new footage—along with stunning revelations from Trump’s own lawyers and aides—many lawmakers who survived the attack still have unanswered questions.

Before and after each of the nine Jan. 6 committee hearings, Raw Story interviewed dozens of lawmakers who wanted to study the evidence themselves. Some studiously took notes, as others clicked pictures. Most hugged their colleagues, especially a rotating group of some three dozen lawmakers who, on Jan. 6, watched the House floor get evacuated before they found themselves trapped in the House Gallery for close to an hour as the mob roared and ransacked.

“It sounded like a herd of elephants trying to get to us,” Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) remembered.

Each lawmaker we spoke with reported finding healing since the insurrection, even as many also are filled with righteous anger after reliving the day’s traumatic events. The anger stems, in part, from the questions they haven’t been able to shake since the attack.

They’re still looking for answers, especially those who were targeted by rioters and those who allege being lied to by the senior leadership in the Capitol police. Even as the committee conducted its last hearing, these lawmakers continue searching for answers, and, they hope, the closure they long for.

Who planted those pipe bombs?

There’s been no shortage of Jan. 6 investigations. By Jan. 13, 2021—a mere seven days after the siege of the Capitol—the House of Representatives had impeached Trump, again. A few weeks later, House Democrats formally presented their case to the Senate in Trump’s second impeachment trial. The Capitol Police also conducted an internal review, and a bipartisan Senate panel proposed security improvements. Not to mention the ongoing Department of Justice trials.

But one haunting question has eluded them all: Who planted the two pipe bombs left at the headquarters of both the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee on Jan. 6?

While it’s not the most pressing question about the alleged attempted coup, it’s remained an unsettling mystery to many.

“You know, once we got to the Capitol and we were fighting, I was wondering, ‘How many more bombs are there?’” D.C. police officer Daniel Hodges testified to the Jan. 6 panel last July.

WATCH: Officer Daniel Hodges testifies on what happened in the Jan. 6 attack

While many fear that mystery will never be solved, another question around explosives lingers in the mind of Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN). When he was first elected 16 years ago, he became only the second Muslim ever to serve in Congress. That made him standout, in more ways than what’s in the history books.

On Jan. 6, Lonnie Coffman, 70, was arrested near the Capitol after police found 11 Molotov cocktails and a stash of weapons—from handguns to automatic rifles, and even a crossbow—in his truck. He was later slapped with 17 gun and ammunition charges. Among his arsenal, investigators found a list of “good guys” and “bad guys” compiled by the Alabama native.

Carson’s name was on the list, but it was in a separate section reserved for the few Muslims in Congress. It's still on his mind.

“Now, there was a gentleman who was apprehended that day who had explosives in his vehicle, and he had my name on a list of two Muslims. I was on the list,” Carson recalled to Raw Story over the summer.

Before coming to Congress, Carson served as an intelligence and counter-terrorism agent with Indiana’s Department of Homeland Security, which is why he now serves on the Intelligence Committee. He says the incident left him fearful of the extent to which far-right extremism is now woven into the fabric of certain wings of today’s Republican Party.

“My question is: How complicit were my colleagues? And to what extent are they willing to give up their colleagues on the other side to talk about their affiliation with extremist right-wing groups?” Carson asked.

Did the Capitol police leadership help a GOP coverup?

Other Democrats have lingering questions for the top brass of the Capitol police. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) reported seeing Republican lawmakers giving Capitol tours in the days preceding Jan. 6, when tours were forbidden. After the committee played new footage confirming what she reported, Scanlon was furious.

“We asked for an investigation of that, and our Republican colleagues denied that there'd been any tours and then filed an ethics complaint against us,” the congresswoman bemoaned after seeing the Loudermilk footage for the first time. “I am angry because we were first told that it hadn't happened, when it did. And then we were attacked with an ethics complaint. So it's this ongoing denial of what happened and a refusal to confront the truth.”

Jan. 6 Committee Releases Video Of Capitol Tour Led By Rep. Loudermilk

After Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), the top Republican on the House Administration Committee—which controls the Capitol police budget—inquired into Scanlon’s accusation, the Capitol police denied there was a tour.

“There is no evidence that Representative Loudermilk entered the U.S. Capitol with this group on January 5, 2021,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger reported early this June.

Later that week, the Jan. 6 committee released the footage—which shows the congressman’s guests clicking pictures of stairwells and tunnels in the basement of the Capitol complex—that appears to contradict the police chief.

Scanlon says it’s unacceptable for federal law enforcement to mislead Congress, even if they’re under pressure by powerful lawmakers from either party. In this case, she says she’s still troubled that the Capitol police chief aligned his department with GOP talking points.

“They grabbed the narrative–so putting out this crazy letter from the Capitol Police that says ‘Oh, there was nothing to it.’ Well, it’s a very tightly worded letter in response to a request from the person who may very well control the Capitol police’s budget next term,” Scanlon lamented. “’Don’t believe your lying eyes, just believe what we tell you.’ That’s no way to run a country.”

Loudermilk has maintained his innocence, even as Democrats are left with more questions.

The 14th amendment’s day in the sun

Still, other lawmakers have constitutional questions, especially regarding the 14th amendment. It explicitly prohibits anyone from holding elected office in America who previously took part in an insurrection. Just last month, in New Mexico, State District Court Judge Francis Mathew ruled Couy Griffin, a co-founder of Cowboys for Trump, was barred from serving as a county commissioner because he took part in the attack on the Capitol.

Many lawmakers here in Washington—mostly Democrats, but a handful of Republicans too—continue asking why the Department of Justice has refused to bring charges against Republicans who, they allege, played a role in the insurrection.

“Many of them often embolden hate. Anyone who’s had any role in this [coup] has no business serving in Congress,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) told Raw Story outside the hearing room. “There was some level of coordination, potentially, by members of Congress, certainly incited by Donald Trump.”

WATCH: In new Jan. 6 footage, congressional leaders shelter and call for help during Capitol attack

It’s not partisanship, according to Pressley, the heart of our democracy is at stake.

“I think that accountability is so critical, not only to restore the faith and confidence in the American people in what we do here, but also to have all those who are in proximity to getting on a pathway to some sort of restorative healing,” Pressley continued.

The congresswoman doesn’t want anyone to forget the events of that day—the first time the Capitol was attacked since the British stormed it during the War of 1812.

“Honestly, I'm just still processing. To me, it's just frightening how close we came,” Pressley said. “It’s jarring. Disturbing.”

In June, the committee revealed at least six Republican members of Congress sought pardons from Trump: Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

That bombshell unsettled many in the hearing room, even as many saw it as a smoking gun, of sorts. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) is demanding a deeper investigation into the actions of some of their GOP colleagues leading up to and on Jan. 6.

“There's criminal exposure for members of Congress. People must be held to account,” Dean told Raw Story in the hall after the committee released the list of pardon seekers. “They have exposed themselves. By asking people in the White House for pardons, it means they know they have criminal exposure.”

As all the new evidence was unveiled by the committee, many Democrats grew increasingly frustrated that prosecutors focused on the individuals who comprised the mob but not the people who they believe fomented and supported the failed coup.

“I find it more remarkable than ever that 892 insurrectionists are charged with crimes and yet the people that inspired them, enabled them, encouraged them, and then whitewashed the whole thing are still walking the halls of Congress and Mar-a-Lago,” Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) told Raw Story after the first hearing this summer. “It really, really pisses me off.”

10/13/22 Select Committee Hearing

From ‘defund the police’ to hugging Capitol police

In the lead up to this year’s midterms, Republicans have steadily beat their drum of ‘law and order,’ as they’ve tried to portray Democrats as soft on crime. After watching new footage showing a heavily armed and organized mob descend on the Capitol before Trump finished his ‘Stop the steal’ rally speech, many Democrats are crying, ‘Foul!’

They question how Republicans can claim to care about law enforcement when the party all but abandoned the more than 140 police officers brutalized that day.

“I think we Democrats are becoming the party that supports law enforcement, because the absence of that support right now is both graphic and reprehensible and unforgivable,” Phillips said.

Select Committee NEW Footage

This summer, after the FBI uncovered classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, a number of prominent Republicans—from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to Steve Bannon—started calling to ‘defund the FBI.’ In Ohio, Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance even called to defund the ATF.

“First, we had the left talking about defunding the police and attacking police officers, and now, we have these federal law enforcement officers. And it's absurd,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Vance’s opponent in the heated Senate contest, told Raw Story. “It’s outrageous rhetoric."

What do we have if we lose our democracy?

With Republican congressional leaders, most of the party’s rank and file, and the majority of GOP voters reporting they’ve moved past the events of Jan. 6, many Democrats say the question weighing heaviest on them is: How did so many Republicans, who swore oaths to uphold the Constitution, move past an insurrection on American soil so quickly?

“Time dulls your memory, but watching that video again took my breath away,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) told Raw Story outside of one of this summer’s Jan. 6 hearings. “It frightens me. It frightens me that we could come that close to losing our democracy. I mean, it’s not trite to say, we almost lost our democracy that day, especially when you see the footage.”