House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday quashed reports that she will be creating a select committee to probe the Jan. 6 breach of U.S. Capitol, saying that she will decide this week whether to do so.
“No, I did not make that announcement,” Pelosi told reporters while stepping out of her office at the Capitol. “Somebody put out a false report.”
The clarification came after several U.S. news outlets, citing sources familiar with the matter, earlier in the day reported that Pelosi had decided to form the committee.
“Clarification on tonight’s meeting of the Steering and Policy Committee. Speaker Pelosi told Members she plans to announce WHETHER she will create a select committee THIS WEEK. Her preference continues to be a bipartisan commission which Senate Republicans are blocking,” Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, said on Twitter on Tuesday.
Senate Republicans last month blocked the upper chamber from advancing the House-passed bill that would create a commission to probe the Jan. 6 incident. Some Republicans stated that the commission, which would have subpoena power, isn’t necessary because of the probes already underway by the Department of Justice and other agencies, and they worried over whether such a commission would be fueled by politics.
The legislation fell short by six votes in the Senate, though several senators who missed the vote said they would have supported the bill.
Pelosi said on June 13 there are senators working on drawing the additional votes needed to pass the bill if it were brought up for consideration again.
Testifying at an oversight hearing held by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee earlier this month, FBI Director Chris Wray said that at least one individual was found with a gun inside the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, adding however that a lot of the arrests and “more significant” charges that are coming out of the investigation currently are individuals who brought “all sorts of weapons” inside the Capitol building, including Kevlar, tactical vests, and bear spray.
Wray said that the FBI had divided the tens of thousands of protesters who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 into three groups: “peaceful, maybe rowdy” protesters who didn’t participate in the breach and made up the biggest group, a second group who engaged in criminal trespass of the Capitol Building, and a third group—the smallest in number—who were responsible for carrying weapons into the Capitol.
Close to 500 arrests among those in the second and third groups have been made so far in connection with Jan. 6, Wray told the committee. The Department of Justice (DOJ) previously said that the majority of cases are related to entering a restricted building, obstruction of an official proceeding, and civil disorder.
The FBI director also testified that the law enforcement agency considered the events that unfolded on Jan. 6 an act of “domestic terrorism.” When asked by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) whether the events on Jan. 6 at the Capitol were an “insurrection,” Wray replied that he believes it would be inappropriate to describe the breach as such.
“In my role as FBI director, because that’s a term that has legal meaning, I really have to be careful about using words like that,” Wray said, adding that what he says could impact ongoing criminal cases.
Democratic lawmakers pushed the narrative that the Jan. 6 breach was an “insurrection” largely during the January impeachment effort against former President Donald Trump. No one who participated in the breach has been charged with insurrection.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.