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US Congress to set up 9/11-style commission to investigate Capitol attack

WASHINGTON: The United States Congress will establish an independent commission to investigate and report on the January 6 siege of the US Capitol.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a note to House members that the commission would be modelled on one set up after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

“To protect our security … our next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type commission to investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack,” Pelosi said.

A mob of pro-Trump protesters overwhelmed police barricades and security checkpoints to force their way into the US Capitol building on January 6 after attending a rally organised by then-President Donald Trump.

Five people died and dozens of police officers were injured in the incident, which took place as Congress met to ratify Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.

The insurrection sent shockwaves across the US and the world, while observers continue to question how the rioters were able to access the seat of the US legislature. “We will be forever grateful to the Capitol Police for their life-saving courage and heroism in securing the Capitol and protecting members,” Pelosi said.

READ MORE: US Congress reconvenes to certify Biden win after mobs invade Capitol

She said the commission would look at “the interference with peaceful transfer of power” as well as the “preparedness and response” of US Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies.

Pelosi’s announcement comes after the US Senate on February 13 declined to convict Trump on an impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection” in relation to the riot.

While Trump’s defence team had rejected the accusation that the former president incited the mob, Democrats and even some members of Trump’s own Republican Party said he was “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day”.

Legislators from both the Republican and Democratic parties have called for Congress to set up an independent commission to look into the events. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who voted to acquit Trump, said such a commission would help “find out what happened and make sure it never happens again”.

The House impeached Trump on January 13 for “incitement of insurrection”, saying an inflammatory speech he delivered at the rally before the riot and his repeated false claims that the November election had been stolen from him contributed to the events.

Retired Army Lt General Russel Honore, appointed by Pelosi, has been reviewing what happened on January 6 and assessing the Capitol’s security needs. “It is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened,” she said.

The Capitol grounds remain under heavy protection surrounded by metal fencing and razor wire and more than 5,000 National Guard troops are still watching over the area.

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