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President Biden has control over all federal agencies, several of which have investigative/police powers; he could order them to investigate anything.

So what is the point of the National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex (January 6 commission)?

Would it have additional powers the FBI does not?

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The FBI is a police agency. It investigates criminal activity. The intent of an investigative board such as this one is to look more widely at the causes of, and response to the events on Jan 6th.

For example, it could investigate if Trump gave succour to the protestors, even if it was not criminal provocation. It could ask if the Police were prepared; if the policing response was appropriate; whether a more forceful response could have prevented the attack on the Captiol, or would have led to greater disorder. It could look at the role of the FBI and other agencies on the day.

All of this is beyond the remit of the FBI, who would not be an appropriate body to investigate the actions of the FBI, as that would be a conflict of interest.

A committee of the House could investigate this, but this is not really the role of legislators. Congresspeople are not investigators as their main skill. Congressional committees should be focused on investigations that are ultimately designed to guide the writing of new legislation. (This isn't always the case but in theory anyway).

Especially as one of the topics of an investigation would be actions that members of Congress. Setting up a committee of Representatives would lack the independence and legitimacy that an independent commission would have. Any House investigation could be hijacked by partisans, or dismissed as having been hijacked by partisans. The proper way to hold an investigation is to create an independent commission with the time to do a proper job, and not a committee of Representatives who are politicians and don't have the time or the skills to do this. However with the commission blocked in the Senate, one way forward for the Democrat-controlled House is to set up a Committee (that would have Democrat Chair and majority)

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  • Why can’t the House just use its own powers to investigate? It has subpoena powers. May 29 at 2:58
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    One of the things to investigate is the actions of members of the House. Anyway it is not a matter of "does body X have the power to investigate". A House committee could investigate, but that is not really the job of Representiatives, The proper way to hold an investigation is to create an independent commission with the time to do a proper job, and not a committee of Representatives who are politicians and don't have the time or the skills to do this.
    – James K
    May 29 at 3:08
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    @Maximus1987 It can, and one of the proposals going forward for Democrats is to create a House Special/Select Committee (Republicans used one of these for Benghazi, and such committees are not uncommon; for a time they were the only kind of committee). And one of the reasons some Senate Republicans voted to authorize the commission (or, technically, prevent its filibuster) was specifically to avoid the creation of such a committee, which could be more heavily controlled by Democrats (the Senate has no say in it, for one) and could deny any ability to prevent subpoenas to Republicans. May 29 at 10:12
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    But as James K says Representatives already have lots of responsibilities and committees to deal with, so it would have been nice to not have to increase the workload for some of them. There's a perception of enhanced legitimacy and difficulty in resisting the investigation when it's approved as a commission; a committee of one chamber may be resisted on partisan grounds, as we saw during the Trump administration. A committee may also have jurisdictional issues that the commission would not have, as a committee typically must have its actions geared towards legislation in some fashion. May 29 at 10:21
  • The house will probably appoint a select committee anyway. If part of the problem was a failing of the FBI, it makes sense to have another agency investigate, like calling in the state police to investigate a local police's deadly force incident.
    – dandavis
    Jun 1 at 18:16

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