McConnell Questions Legitimacy of Pelosi's Commission to Probe Capitol Breach

McConnell Questions Legitimacy of Pelosi's Commission to Probe Capitol Breach
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) walks to his office at the conclusion of former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 13, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Bill Pan

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) proposed commission to investigate the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, calling its composition "partisan by design."

The Congress has yet to finalize the structure of the commission, which Pelosi said will be modeled after the one established by President George W. Bush to examine the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon. It is reported, however, that Democratic leaders had proposed a panel that would have seven members appointed by their party—including three picked by President Joe Biden with subpoena power—and four appointed by Republicans.

McConnell took issue with the unequal representation and unbalanced subpoena authority, saying that the probe won't be seen as a legitimate, bipartisan effort by the public.

"An inquiry with a hard-wired partisan slant would never be legitimate in the eyes of the American people," McConnell said on the Senate floor on Wednesday. "An undertaking that is uneven or unjust would not help our country."

The Kentucky senator then criticized Pelosi for not trying to make the 1/6 commission as bipartisan as its precursor. Chaired by former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, a Republican, the 9/11 commission consisted of five Democrats and five Republicans. Both Democratic Republican commissioners were granted the power to subpoena witnesses and documents, although they used majority votes when making important decisions such as issuing subpoenas.

"The 9/11 Commission was intentionally built to be bipartisan," McConnell said. "Fifty-fifty bipartisan split of the commissioners was a key feature. It both helped the effectiveness of the investigation itself, and help give the whole country confidence in its work, and its recommendations."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made a similar comment earlier in the day, saying that the commission's design is "politically-driven" and that Pelosi is "setting up a system to fail."

"Speaker Pelosi is doing it all wrong," McCarthy said. "First, it's not bipartisan, 7-4. Secondly, they don't allow subpoena power for the minority and the majority to work together."

Meanwhile, former 9/11 commissioners are expressing concerns about the apparent partisanship in the 1/6 commission, reported Politico.

"That does not sound to me like a good start; it sounds like a partisan beginning," said former Indiana Rep. Lee H. Hamilton, a Democrat who vice-chaired the 9/11 commission.

Hamilton was joined by Kean, who told Politico that the anticipated 1/6 report "won't have as much confidence from the American people" unless there is equal representation on the commission.