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Investigations into Capitol riot are set to consume Congress long after impeachment is done

Ben Werschkul
·Senior Producer and Writer
·5 min read

Last week even while they were still locked down, Congressional Democrats began to think about impeaching President Trump for his role in inciting the riot.

And Wednesday’s historic impeachment vote – with a Senate trial expected in the coming weeks – will be far from the last word.

“We have to take steps that this never happens again,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) in an interview on Yahoo Finance Live.

Maloney is chairwoman of the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Reform and appears set to lead many of the inquiries that could continue for months or even years to come. Other committees across the Capitol could also announce their own investigations of different aspects of the riot in the coming days.

So far, there are two clear tracks emerging that lawmakers – who remain furious over the violence and death Trump helped incite – are signaling may be coming soon.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 13: Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) wears a protective mask while walking to the House Floor at the U.S. Capitol on January 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives moved forward with impeachment following Vice President Mike Pences refusal to use the 25th amendment to remove Trump from office after protestors breached the U.S. Capitol last week. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
Representative Carolyn Maloney walks to the House Floor o Wednesday as the House of Representatives moved forward with the impeachment of President Trumop for a second time. (Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)

‘We want to know who financed this’

The FBI is leading an investigation into the members of the mob who destroyed property and killed a Capitol Hill Police officer, Brian D. Sicknick, in the violence.

The rioters were photographed without masks and, in some cases, even posed for pictures. What has followed is, perhaps predictably, a range of charges against alleged rioters being brought across the country in recent days.

Maloney indicated that her probe will be more wide-ranging. “We want to know who financed this, who was behind [it], paid for the buses and the social media,” she said, adding that her committee was interested in “the organization that made this happen.”

The Save America Rally on Jan. 6 took place outside the White House and morphed into a mob when the participants followed up the rally by marching the 1.5 miles to the Capitol. Trump repeatedly promoted the rally in weeks leading up to that day, including one tweet on Dec. 19, that read “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

The rally was publicly organized by a group called Women for America First and was promoted for weeks and even had an official website. In a statement, the group denounced the violence, saying it was “instigated by a handful of bad actors, that transpired after the rally.”

TOPSHOT - Crowds of people gather as US President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Thousands of Trump supporters, fueled by his spurious claims of voter fraud, are flooding the nation's capital protesting the expected certification of Joe Biden's White House victory by the US Congress. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Crowds gather as President Donald Trump spoke to supporters near the White House on January 6. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“We are planning hearings and the FBI is giving us a report on what they did to prepare in advance,” said Maloney, and “what they're doing now to hold people accountable, that are responsible for aiding and abetting this insurrection of our Capitol.”

Investigation into figures inside the US Capitol

The second line of inquiry into the events of Jan. 6 is the question of whether the rioters had help from inside the Capitol or whether some didn’t do enough to stop the violence, either from Capitol Hill Police officers or even sitting members of Congress.

The U.S. Capitol police recently announced that “several USCP officers have already been suspended pending the outcome of their investigations.”

The even more fraught question is whether sitting members of Congress aided the rioters in some way. Rep. Cori Bush (D., Mo.) introduced a bill to initiate investigations into whether members of Congress should be removed for “inciting a white supremacist attempted coup.”

Maloney has signed on to that effort but no indication yet from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about whether she supports that step. “Their investigations really are focusing on members of Congress who may have participated,” said Maloney.

During the interview, Maloney appeared to reference one tweet from a freshman Colorado GOP Congresswoman named Lauren Boebert. The tweet read “[t]he Speaker has been removed from the chambers” while the riot was unfolding. Boebert, in a statement, pushed back on the idea that she did anything wrong and noted that Pelosi leaving the chamber “was also being broadcast on TV.”

Other Democratic lawmakers, notably Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D., N.J.) – have claimed that members of Congress may actually have been involved in more direct ways.

Sherrill has said in interviews with other outlets that she witnessed some members of Congress leading unidentified people through the Capitol on Jan. 5 in what she called "reconnaissance for the next day”.

Sherrill and more than 30 of her colleagues have formally asked for an investigation into the claims.

Any investigation on that front would almost surely be led by the House Ethics committee, which Maloney is not a member of. Rep. Ted Deutch (D., Fla.) heads that committee and a spokesperson offered no comment on any committee plans there.

The Government Accountability Office has also reportedly signaled it would look into whether any members of Congress participated in the riots.

Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.

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