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What is the overall purpose of the House investigation of the events that occurred at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021?

Is this investigation being conducted to decide whether new Articles of Impeachment should be drawn up against former President Donald Trump?

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    I updated the title and question to specifically say the House investigation, as that's what the link for the investigation in the question was about. There are multiple investigations going on, including those by law enforcement agencies designed to bring charges against anyone who committed crimes as part of the incident. This is a very different purpose from the House investigation, which can't bring criminal charges against anyone.
    – reirab
    Jul 27 at 20:11
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The purposes of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol - according to H.Res.503 which established the committee are as follows:

Consistent with the functions described in section 4, the purposes of the Select Committee are the following:

(1) To investigate and report upon the facts, circumstances, and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex (hereafter referred to as the “domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol”) and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in the National Capital Region and other instrumentalities of government, as well as the influencing factors that fomented such an attack on American representative democracy while engaged in a constitutional process.

(2) To examine and evaluate evidence developed by relevant Federal, State, and local governmental agencies regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol and targeted violence and domestic terrorism relevant to such terrorist attack.

(3) To build upon the investigations of other entities and avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts by reviewing the investigations, findings, conclusions, and recommendations of other executive branch, congressional, or independent bipartisan or nonpartisan commission investigations into the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol, including investigations into influencing factors related to such attack.

Section 4 of the resolution describes the functions of the committee, and includes a requirement to "issue a final report to the House containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures described in subsection (c) as it may deem necessary."

Subsection (c) states:

The corrective measures described in this subsection may include changes in law, policy, procedures, rules, or regulations that could be taken—

  1. to prevent future acts of violence, domestic terrorism, and domestic violent extremism, including acts targeted at American democratic institutions;

  2. to improve the security posture of the United States Capitol Complex while preserving accessibility of the Capitol Complex for all Americans; and

  3. to strengthen the security and resilience of the United States and American democratic institutions against violence, domestic terrorism, and domestic violent extremism.

It's certainly possible that the House of Representatives could choose to introduce articles of impeachment against former President Trump (see Can a President be impeached after leaving office?) - and even on the same charges as the previous articles of impeachment - double jeopardy doesn't apply to impeachment - but the stated purpose of the committee seems to be more focused on recommending changes to prevent future attacks, rather than gathering evidence to further any possible impeachment proceedings.

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    It would seem much more likely that, if the discovered facts justify it, criminal charges would be brought, for instance incitement to riot, conspiracy, sedition findlaw.com/criminal/criminal-charges/sedition.html and the like. After all, impeaching Trump would fail due to partisanship, while criminal trials and potential convictions would have more effect.
    – jamesqf
    Jul 26 at 17:47
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    @jamesqf: I don't think criminal prosecution is completely impossible, but considering Brandenburg v. Ohio, it may be an uphill climb. IIRC Trump did not unambiguously and directly call on the crowd to storm the Capitol building as such, so you'd end up with a lot of uncomfortable argumentation over what he "intended" for the crowd to do. (Being irresponsibly happy about it after the fact is irrelevant, of course; he would need to have intended it in the moment). However, the Constitution does make it explicitly clear that Trump is not immune from prosecution, so we'll see what happens.
    – Kevin
    Jul 26 at 21:09
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    @Kevin The Ohio law was knocked down because it forbid "teaching", "advocating" and "assembling". The Federal law is worded quite differently. Action before during and afterward can be used to try to show intent. Since we can't read their mind, actions are used to infer intent. Jul 26 at 22:09
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – CDJB
    Jul 30 at 11:08
  • As usual, your answer is well written and accurate. However, in answering a question about political purpose, it seems like depending primarily on the text of the resolution lacks some balance and perspective. We are in the midst of a long-term crisis of confidence, and only 26% of Americans approve of how Congress does its job. Aug 21 at 17:43
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There is no longer any point in impeaching the former President. It is being convened to answer the kinds of questions the 9/11 commission did: the who, what, when, where, and why of the incident.

Questions I'd expect to be answered:

  1. Who were the first co-conspirators, and how did they recruit?
  2. At what point was it decided (and by whom) that they would physically storm the Capitol, rather than just protest?
  3. At what point was it decided (and by whom) that their goal would not only be to confiscate the physical elector votes, but also to execute several members of Congress?
  4. At what point was it decided (and by whom) that they would execute the Vice President?
  5. Who produced the professional-grade multi-person gallows, and who transported it to the Capitol?
  6. Which members of Congress were in on the conspiracy?
  7. What members of Trump's cabinet were in on it?
  8. What members of the right-wing media were in on it?
  9. What members of the Capitol Police/Pentagon were in on it?
  10. What (if anything) were they offered in exchange for their help/complacency?
  11. Who unlocked the door to the Senate chamber a minute before armed insurgents arrived?
  12. How many warnings did the White House receive on the intentions of the co-conspirators and what were their reactions?
  13. Who organized the tour on January 5th to show insurgents exactly how to get to the Senate chambers?
  14. What is the exact timeline of events of the planning and implementation stages, as well as the timeline of events as the coup was implemented?
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    @user57467 I don't think it is (at least not officially). The list above is what the author of the answer personally expects from the investigation. They are not the official objectives. You can find those in the other answers which rely on a primary source.
    – Philipp
    Jul 26 at 13:44
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    @user57467 The Republicans had a chance to limit the scope of the investigation, but they declined. And it's difficult not to bump into congressfolk if doing a fair investigation. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama have been implicated in the 'Stop the Steal' rally that fed the insurrection, on the blander side.
    – Carduus
    Jul 26 at 14:40
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    "It's like the 9/11 commission" was the elevator pitch -- "something very bad happened, let's get to the bottom of it". And no one thought that commission was formed to impeach President Bush. Jul 26 at 21:10
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    Just noticed "no longer any point to impeach" -- that isn't quite right. He wouldn't be able to run again (which might be a huge benefit to the Republicans). Jul 27 at 3:35
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    Don't forget the pipe bombs left outside the DNC and RNC headquarters the day before, presumably to distract law enforcement away from the insurrection - that alone would be considered an act of domestic terrorism and they still haven't caught that guy. Jul 27 at 13:39
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Is the purpose of the investigation of the events of January 6th to decide whether Congress should impeach former President Donald Trump?

No, the purposes of the investigation are given in H. Res. 503, June 30, 2021.

H.Res.503 - Establishing the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

SEC. 3. PURPOSES.

Consistent with the functions described in section 4, the purposes of the Select Committee are the following:

(1) To investigate and report upon the facts, circumstances, and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex (hereafter referred to as the “domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol”) and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in the National Capital Region and other instrumentalities of government, as well as the influencing factors that fomented such an attack on American representative democracy while engaged in a constitutional process.

(2) To examine and evaluate evidence developed by relevant Federal, State, and local governmental agencies regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol and targeted violence and domestic terrorism relevant to such terrorist attack.

(3) To build upon the investigations of other entities and avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts by reviewing the investigations, findings, conclusions, and recommendations of other executive branch, congressional, or independent bipartisan or nonpartisan commission investigations into the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol, including investigations into influencing factors related to such attack.

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As others have pointed out, the purpose of the investigation is to find details on the circumstances and causes of the attack from a bipartisan point of view. Critics of this move often point out the fact BLM riots, which also caused property damage and deaths, were not investigated and thus, they conclude this investigation is purely political theatre.

However, I would like to argue that on the contrary, the capital insurrection was a far more serious offence compared to the BLM riots. First and foremost, no amount of property damage is worth a life, not to mention that such damages do not typically warrant a such a large scale investigation.

Secondly, some like to mention the BLM riots lead to dozens of deaths while the capitol riot lead to a single death. I would like to point out that while it's unfortunate the protests lead to so many deaths, the death of the capitol police is much more significant: the capitol police are directly responsible for protecting the most sacred location where the process of democracy occurs. This location is where leaders representing the millions of U.S citizens meet to make policies for the people. And thus, the death of the capitol police marks the departure from democracy into a state of anarchism, which clearly outweighs any damage done by BLM.

Finally, the insurrection was possibly supported by members of the GOP, including President Trump, this by itself warrants an investigation for treason. Once again, critics like to point out many members of the Democrats (including past President Obama) were supporting the BLM riots. I'd like to rebuttal that in 2020, the GOP were in control of the country, and therefore they held the most power to influence the people. In comparison, any message sent by the Democrats did not hold nearly as much influence, not to mention from the points above, the BLM riots did not hold a candle to the capitol insurrection.

TLDR: The investigation is not purely political theatre just because the Democrats did not want to waste time investigating the BLM riots.

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    "Critics of this move often point out the fact BLM riots, which also caused property damage and deaths, were not investigated ..." They have been, by a number of federal and state departments. Jul 28 at 14:55
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    The BLM thing is a useless whataboutism type deflection. Its true that protests have always had a history of going pear shaped. Theres a vital difference. The BLF movement did not attempt a violent coup against the democratically elected government , with the goal of snatching and potentially killing members of the current opposition party. BLM got hijacked in some cases by black-block style troublemakers. The capital insurrection had violent intentions from the leadership to the roots.
    – Shayne
    Jul 29 at 7:13
  • The fact that this conflated BLM protests with the riots that were going on is more than enough misinformation to make this answer useless. Several of the riots that happened while BLM protests were going on were instigated by white supremacists trying to discredit the BLM movement. For example: wsls.com/news/virginia/2020/07/27/… There are several other incidents just like this, so it's not an isolated incident. Jul 30 at 16:27
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There is a partisan political purpose involved here too. In US mid-term elections, the president's party almost always loses seats in Congress. When Democrats hold the presidency, the trend is particularly pronounced. Thus, the Democrat's hold on Congress is at risk in the next election. To counter this, some democratic leaders seek to use the media to discredit their political opposition.

democratic seats lost2

House Resolution 503 was Nancy Pelosi's attempt to launch yet another political media event supporting her domestic conspiracy theory that the attack was a preplanned and coordinated assault on democracy. It is a continuation of Pelosi's efforts to paint Republicans and other Trump supporters as severe threats to constitutional government. Her resolution presupposes in its stated purpose the conclusion Pelosi wants, declaring that it was a domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol.

In announcing the resolution, Nancy Pelosi declared she already knew the "root causes" of the January 6 Capitol riot: “the white supremacy, the anti-Semitism, the Islamophobia, all the rest of it that was so evident when you see a sweatshirt on one of the people saying, ‘Camp Auschwitz.’” Based on a sweatshirt slogan, she repeated the common and yet completely unsubstantiated claim that the Capitol incident constituted an “insurrection.”

In a rare move, Pelosi personally sponsored the resolution almost six months after the events, and only days after the Senate's bipartisan 128-page report. The Senate report found failures in security, planning, and the response of the entities directly responsible for Capitol security. Moreover, though the Senate report repeatedly refers to organizations with counter-terrorist responsibilities, nowhere does it label the Capitol riot a terrorist attack, which hinders Pelosi's terrorist narrative.

After seven months of intense investigation, the FBI has found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol resulted from an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result. (Source: Reuters.) Moreover, while Pelosi prefers highly loaded words like "insurrection," prosecutors see it differently: no seditious conspiracy charges have come out of the US Capitol riots.

While at least one member of the Oath Keepers has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. That charge, under 18 USC §1512(c)(2), does not rise to the level of seditious conspiracy (18 USC §2384.) Some other charges against Oath Keepers near on absurd, that they "loaded into golf carts and began speeding toward the Capitol building." With top speeds of 10-25 MPH, golf carts hardly seem a rational choice for a paramilitary group, let alone for further inquiry by the house of representatives.

Nancy Pelosi's resolution goes beyond political oversight and seeks to change the rules that apply to how her personally appointed committee deals with intelligence sources and methods:

(a) Access To Information From Intelligence Community.—Notwithstanding clause 3(m) of rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Select Committee is authorized to study the sources and methods of entities described in clause 11(b)(1)(A) of rule X insofar as such study is related to the matters described in sections 3 and 4.

The abovementioned rules give the Intelligence committee exclusive oversight of intelligence sources and methods. The rules also require a degree of partisan balance on that committee: no more than 13/22 of the members may be from the same party. Access to raw intelligence products is generally denied to politicians for a good reason. And in HR 503, the attempt is not to provide congressional oversight of the intelligence community but to bypass the normal functioning of intelligence agencies to serve a partisan political goal: showing there was an insurrection and smearing the minority party before the next election.

Rep. John Katko (R-NY), who voted to impeach and worked with a Democratic House Homeland Security Committee colleague on a bipartisan bill, said:

I led the charge to create a January 6th commission that would be external, independent, bipartisan, and equitable in membership and subpoena power. The select committee proposed by Speaker Pelosi is literally the exact opposite of that. The select committee would have a skewed, 8 Democrat and 5 Republican panel of members, all 13 of whom would ultimately be picked by the Speaker herself. It would be a turbo-charged partisan exercise, not an honest fact-finding body that the American people and Capitol Police deserve. For those reasons, I will not support its creation when voted upon. Recognizing the deeply disappointing departure this represents from a truly bipartisan solution; I have a hard time envisioning a scenario where I would participate if asked.

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  • You got video of the golf carts part? Can't seem to find it, genuinely curious what that looks like.
    – Ray
    Aug 20 at 23:00
  • Sorry, no video. Time magazine mentions it: time.com/6078530/army-veteran-capitol-siege Aug 21 at 0:52
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    There are a lot of problems with this, but the main one is that you’re attempting to smear it as a made up effort by Pelosi to push a partisan narrative, but it’s only partisan because Republicans insisted on it. They rejected an independent bipartisan joint committee, they refused to take their seats on the select committee, and now they’re complaining about not getting to tell their side of the story? If it’s all some made up, no big deal “tourist visit” as you argue, why did no one take the multiple opportunities to show that on a bipartisan committee?
    – divibisan
    Aug 21 at 2:32
  • John Katko unquestionably sought a bipartisan investigation, and it passed the house. His analysis of Pelosi's resolution stands the best answer to your comment. Did you read it @divibisan? Moreover, the standing Senate committees have been operating bipartisanly and have already generated actionable steps to avoid future repetitions of a very real problem. Aug 21 at 14:03
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    @Burt_harris You’re conveniently ignoring the truly bipartisan and independent Joint committee that was killed by Republicans, leading to the creation of a Select committee as a fallback. Every Select committee is composed of members chosen by the Speaker - that’s the definition of a Select committee- which is why the initial hope was for an independent committee like the 9/11 Commission, but, again, Republicans killed that
    – divibisan
    Aug 21 at 15:38

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