Trump escapes impeachment but Speaker orders independent 9/11-style probe

New York, July 15 (IANS)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced her plans to establish a 9/11 style independent commission outside the Congress to probe the January 6, 2021 Capitol Hills insurrection, even as bipartisan Senators voted 57-43 to impeach the former president, but failed to get the support of 17 Republicans to have the 2/3rd majority required to convict Trump.
Trump was free to go on impeachment in the second vote of the senate.
Even as Trump got this reprieve with his ‘Trumpification’ of the Republican party, Pelosi announced plans for Congress to establish an outside and independent commission to investigate “the facts and causes” related to the attack on the US Capitol last year.
In a letter to her Democratic colleagues on Monday, the California Democrat said the commission will be modelled on the commission established after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
President Joe Biden responded to the Senate’s acquittal of Trump by reminding Americans that truth must be defended, saying the impeachment of the former President was a stark illustration of the danger posed to democracy by lies, misinformation and extremism.
And Biden said that although Trump was acquitted, his actions in the lead-up to the Jan 6 riots were not “in dispute”.
“This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America. And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies,” Biden said in a statement.
Biden’s statement was preceded by Pelosi noting the recent work of retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who has “been assessing our security needs by reviewing what happened on January 6 and how we must ensure that it does not happen again”.
“As we prepare for the Commission, it is also clear from General Honore’s interim reporting that we must put forth a supplemental appropriation to provide for the safety of Members and the security of the Capitol,” Pelosi wrote.
Such a move will require legislation and will likely tee up partisan difficulties, NPR WNYC quoted her as saying.
Her letter to colleagues came several hours after four House Republicans sent a letter to Pelosi suggesting she may be responsible for the delay in the deployment of National Guard troops ahead of and during the insurrection.
The letter did not mention Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who on January 6 was still the Senate majority leader and would have also had a say in the Capitol’s security posture.
“Many important questions about your responsibility for the security of the Capitol remain unanswered,” the letter read.
Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, called the Republicans’ letter a “transparently partisan attempt to lay blame on the Speaker”.
“The Speaker has and will continue to take action to ensure accountability and enhance the security of the Capitol,” he said in a statement.
“Following the insurrection, the House Sergeant at Arms, the Senate Sergeant at Arms and the Chief of the Capitol Police were removed from their positions. It is the job of the Capitol Police Board, on which these three individuals sat, to properly plan and prepare for security threats facing the US Capitol.”
Senator Chris Coons, a close ally of President Biden, told ABC’s ‘This Week’ that he supports a September 11-style commission to probe further into the events leading up to the attack.
“There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear,” the Delaware Democrat said.
“The 9/11-style commission is the way to make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward, and that we lay bare the record of just how responsible and abjectly and violating of his constitutional oath President Trump really was.”
Following the January 6 attack, heightened security measures were deployed around the complex, including the requirement of members to walk through metal detectors and various forms of fencing secured around the Capitol’s perimeter.
Trump, facing conviction and impeachment in the Senate committee probing the Capitol insurrection, escaped impeachment as the Senate voted 57-43 to acquit former him during his second impeachment trial.
Even though the yearlong hearings by the Senate committee gathered mounting evidence to convict Trump, it had no legal powers to do so as it’s only a fact-finding commission that can recommend a trial.
That’s why Pelosi has quickly moved to appoint a 9/11 style commission that’s independent of Congress and from the outside to find the causes of the riots. Trump is up against the wall again.
Seven GOP Senators voted with Democrats — the most bipartisan impeachment vote in US history — but fell short of the 17 needed to convict the former Ppresident, according to CNBC news. .
Of those seven Republicans, two are retiring and only one — Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski — faces her state’s voters in the next election cycle in 2022.
Following Trump’s second acquittal in an impeachment trial, House Democratic managers are defending their decision not to forge ahead with seeking witnesses to help make their case.
Members on both sides of the aisle were anticipating a surprise Senate vote to allow witnesses threatened to upend the speedy trial. But after a two-hour break, the House managers relented, and they and Trump’s defence team reached a deal that would prevent them from going down the prolonged path of seeking to add witnesses to the trial.
Instead, they allowed a statement released by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, in which she relayed a conversation she said the House GOP leader had with Trump, to be entered into the trial record.
The House impeachment managers defended that choice, arguing that continuing the trial with witnesses wouldn’t have been strategically advantageous.
“We have no regrets,” lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin, told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’.
“We left it totally out there on the floor of the Senate, and every Senator knew exactly what happened. We could have had a thousand witnesses but that could not have overcome the kinds of silly arguments that people like McConnell and Capito were hanging their hats on,” he added.
Senator Stacey Plaskett was vitriolic in saying the Trump trial needed “More Senators with spines, not more witnesses”.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell West Virginia GOP Senator Shelley Moore Capito both cited constitutional concerns in their decision to vote to acquit Trump.
The Senate vote raises further questions about Trump’s role in the Republican Party going forward. In a statement after the verdict, Trump said: “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to ‘Make America Great Again’ has only just begun.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, an ally of the former President, told Fox News that he had spoken with Trump, and that he’s eager to help the GOP win the House and Senate back in 2022.
But Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, who was one of the seven Republicans who broke ranks with their party in voting to convict the trump, told ABC’s ‘This Week’ that Trump’s “force wanes” in the GOP.
Cassidy is facing backlash in Louisiana over his vote, including the state GOP voting to unanimously censure him. But he said people want to hold their leaders accountable and that’s what his vote to convict was based on.
“I have the privilege of having the facts before me, and being able to spend several days deeply going into those facts. As these facts become more and more out there, if you will, and folks have a chance to look for themselves, more folks will move to where I was,” he explained.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell excoriated Trump for his actions on the day of the attack on the US Capitol, calling them a “disgraceful dereliction of duty”.
But he said ultimately he did not vote to convict the former President because of constitutional concerns. “There’s no question, none, that President Trump was practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said shortly after the 57-43 Senate vote that ended in the former President’s acquittal.

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