With Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders playing the filibuster card, the hope for a bilateral commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol attack seems dead. But is it really? No, there is really one relatively easy road to bilateralism. It requires an outreach to those few Republicans who are willing to be investigators rather than party-bound politicians. But there are some. It also requires Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats to be open and non-political as well.
The important point is that most Americans believe that Joe Biden won the 2020 election. While 77% of Republicans believe there was widespread fraud in the presidential election, 60% of Americans overall consider Joe Biden’s victory to be legitimate.
“We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen.” This was Mr. Trump saying on January 6, 2021, in the clearest terms yet that he will never accept Mr. Biden’s win. Referring to himself and his supporters collectively, Mr. Trump said there would be no concession. He went on: “You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.”
In a 70-minute address to a crowd of supporters on the National Mall, Mr Trump exhorted them to march on Congress where politicians had met to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s win. The attack began moments after he took the applause. The words quoted above were his.
70% of Democrats want a Congressional investigation of the riot, while only 38% of Republicans agree. Still, that means that the overall public opinion favors an investigation by the Congress.
Speaker Pelosi should take the high road. The House of Representatives will clearly support such an investigation, and the House alone can establish a commission to achieve it. 35 Republican members of the House supported such a commission in the initial vote. Therefore, why not establish such a commission and reserve half the seats for Republicans willing to accept appointment? No more than 10 House members, surely, are needed for the commission, so only 5 Republicans would be required.
Yes, there’s always the danger that the Republican appointees will vote according to politics and not facts. But the likelihood is that if the appointments are made from among those Republicans who originally voted for a bilateral commission, those members will vote according to their conscience and not politics. And that is really all that is required. The facts brought before the commission will be public, and the public can judge for itself. If the Republicans have an equal number of members on the commission, that should eliminate accusations that the investigation is biased.
What are the likely outcomes? A clear vote that the riot involved Trump supporters and that Trump inspired them to act. Or a divided vote. A clear vote against Trump would probably destroy his chances for re-election in 2024 and might well prevent his even being nominated by the Republicans. Preventing his nomination would actually be a win for the Republicans, but it would certainly be a win for the country. A divided vote would have less of an impact but at least the facts would in the open, and the voters can make their own decision.