Congress aims to avoid politics with independent Jan. 6 investigation

As Congress looks to set up an independent outside panel to investigate the Capitol siege, Democrats and Republicans both have pointed to the 9/11 Commission as a model of bipartisan cooperation.

Trump was acquitted last week. His lawyers argued he wasn’t responsible for the violence at the Capitol and against the propriety of convicting a former president. Seven Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in the 57-43 vote, short of the two-thirds majority needed for conviction.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has shared proposed legislation to set up the panel with Republicans after seeking input from lawmakers, relevant committees and leaders of the 9/11 Commission, including former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, Lee Hamilton, the former Indiana congressman who served as co-chair, and Tim Roemer, another former Democratic congressman.

In interviews with ABC News, Kean, Hamilton and Roemer said they told Pelosi a successful commission would require appointing members who can avoid the partisan fray, supplying them with adequate resources and providing enough time to investigate on their own timetable, rather than one laid out by Congress or the White House.

“You cannot have people on the commission whose job is to defend the president or defend the speaker,” said Kean, a Republican, and chair of the 9/11 Commission. “You’ve got to have people who follow the facts.”

To blunt partisanship on the panel, Kean established a strong relationship with Hamilton and didn’t hire any staff who’d recently worked on a political campaign.

The composition of the committee is essential to its success, added Roemer, who has been consulting with Pelosi and her staff over the past two weeks on the drafting of the legislation. Roemer added that the commissioners must have experience in complex areas of policy, from cybersecurity and law enforcement to racial issues and disinformation campaigns.

“You need to pick people who have worked across the aisle and have deep experience in the issue areas involved. The commission will likely be 10 or 11 people, with the president getting to pick the chair and the leadership selecting other people,” Roemer said.

The 9/11 Commission faced resistance from the Bush White House as it explored what intelligence was known about the plot before the attack, and it was pressured to conclude its investigation before the 2004 election, Kean recalled.

Pelosi, in a statement on Monday, said the commission would “investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex” 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…

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