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Democrats Say Many Questions Remain To Be Answered By Jan. 6 Committee

Vermont Congressman Peter Welch uploaded a video to Twitter as a mob entered the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.
Vermont Congressman Peter Welch uploaded a video to Twitter as a mob entered the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.
Vermont Congressman Peter Welch uploaded a video to Twitter as a mob entered the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.

The House is launching a new investigation of the January 6th Capitol siege. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has named six fellow Democrats to what is to be a 13-member panel that will also include former Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who was stripped of her leadership position after refusing to countenance former President Donald Trump’s falsehoods about the 2020 election.

The vote Wednesday to set up the special committee to investigate the riot at the Capitol came with officers injured in the siege looking on from the gallery. The largely party line tally to establish the committee, and the committee itself, were dismissed by Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy as a partisan exercise.

Democrats in the Northeast tell WAMC they still have unanswered questions about what happened on the winter morning when Trump backers broke into the Capitol as the election results were being locked in.

Peter Welch is an at-large Democrat from Vermont.

“What we don’t know are how did this happen that the mob got there from all these different parts of the country. How much planning went into it. We saw that some were marching in a military formation. That was very much a military force tactic. And what are the forces out there that are leading people to believe things that are flat-out lies? So the bigger question for me is about our democracy, it’s not just about Trump and what his role was,” Welch said.

On WAMC’s Congressional Corner, Welch says his concerns about democracy are continuing into the Biden years.

“I’m obviously very grateful that President Biden was sworn in, and after the mob attacked and I was in the Capitol when shots were fired, when the mob tried to breach the doors right on the House floor," Welch said. "But we came back and we did our job and Joe Biden took the oath. But that doesn’t mean it’s over. And we’re seeing the Trump effect, where two-thirds of Republicans believe his lie that in fact he’s the legitimate president. Some people think he’s going to take the oath in August. This is extremely dangerous.”

Congressman Jim McGovern agrees. The Democrat from Massachusetts’ 2nd House district chairs the Rules Committee and was the last representative swept off the floor January 6.

“I think there’s a lot of questions, like was there collaboration with anyone here on Capitol Hill? More about how this was all organized," he said. "Who put it together. Why weren’t we able to prevent it? Why was our intelligence so off?”

Also on the Congressional Corner, McGovern said the other side of the aisle isn’t taking the historic events of January 6 seriously.

“I’m really very upset by the fact that there are some of [my] Republican colleagues who try not only choose to downplay this but try to rewrite history in a way that is just not accurate,” he said.

The Associated Press reported McCarthy threatened to strip Republicans who join the panel of their committee assignments. In January, the California Republican blamed Trump for the violence, but wouldn’t answer if he stands by those statements as the committee came together.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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