WASHINGTON, Feb 17: In the still-shaken-and heavily-guarded US Capitol, thousands of National Guard troops still wander the halls. Glass windows remain broken. Doors swing without handles. And in the grand marble hallways, which amplified the shouts of insurrectionists just over a month ago, there is an uncomfortable silence.
The end of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is only the beginning of Congress’ reckoning with the January 6 attack, a violent ransacking of the Capitol that resulted in five deaths. While the Senate has spoken on Trump’s role in the violence, acquitting him of insurrection after a wrenching five days of impeachment testimony, lawmakers who fled the violent mob are still demanding answers.
How, they ask, could security have failed so catastrophically? And how can they ensure it doesn’t happen again? “This is not a moment where we pivot and move on,” Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy said on Saturday, just after the acquittal vote in the impeachment trial.
“You cannot view today as the last page of the book. What we were talking about today was the accountability for the leader of the mob. But we still have to protect against future mobs, we still have to go after members of the mob.”
The coming weeks – and likely the coming months and years – will force lawmakers to work through the many unanswered questions about the attack. It’s a complex task that will test whether lawmakers can set aside partisanship, which flared anew during the impeachment process, and turn the harrowing violence that threatened their lives into a restorative moment for their institution.
Since Saturday’s vote, Democratic leaders have said they will take steps to form an independent investigative commission modeled after one that studied security failures before the 9/11 attacks. Two Senate committees have summoned top security officials to testify, the beginning of a comprehensive look at what went wrong. – AP