Good. Democrats should not concede an inch on this. Because what Republicans are asking for in terms of scope is not only absurd, it’s designed to frustrate any real accounting into the insurrection.
The latest idea Democrats floated suggests two ways the commission can issue a subpoena. One would be by joint decision by the chair and vice chair — the top Democrat and the top Republican. The second would be by majority vote of the commission.
In both cases, Republicans would get input into who gets subpoenaed, but neither would appear to allow Republicans to subpoena, say, Hillary Clinton or Hunter Biden, since Republicans would need at least some Democratic support for any subpoena.
Democrats have also suggested an even split in the number of members, to address an earlier GOP objection about the commission’s makeup. It’s unclear what Republicans will say to these ideas.
But beyond this, the scope is the big issue. Democrats have proposed that the commission should examine everything that led up to the attack and the effort to disrupt the conclusion of the election and the peaceful transfer of power.
But Republicans have balked, insisting that if the commission looks at the role of right-wing extremism in causing the attack, then it should also look at various forms of left-wing extremism. They have said that if it doesn’t look at extremism on both sides, it should focus on something much narrower, such as security breakdowns.
At her weekly news conference on Thursday, Pelosi addressed this point. “Why would they object to the scope?” Pelosi asked.
“Our purpose is to find the truth of what happened on January 6th,” Pelosi continued. “It’s not about investigating one thing or another that they may want to draw into this.”
But Republicans cannot allow the commission to focus on “the truth of what happened on January 6th.” Because that would mean a deeper dive into what President Donald Trump did to encourage the insurrection and, possibly, what he said privately to other Republicans about it leading up to and during the attack and what Republicans who encouraged the “Stop the Steal” movement said and did.
Such an accounting might also deepen public understanding of the degree to which lies about the stolen election helped incite the riot. This can only reflect even more poorly on Republicans, since so many of them fed those very same lies for weeks.
What’s more, Republicans are implementing new voter suppression measures across the country, in some cases justified by the idea that voters believe those lies and need their confidence restored. More attention to the destruction unleashed by the lies would only make those measures look worse, which more broadly would reflect badly on the party’s ongoing radicalization against democracy.
The entire point of the GOP demand for an investigation into left-wing extremism is to derail any accounting that clarifies the central role in inciting the violence played by Trump — as well as his lies about the election, and Republican complicity in feeding those lies — in inciting the violence.
In short, the Republican demand is that we must investigate extremism on both sides, and create the vague impression of shared responsibility for the horrible breakdown that occurred that day, or not investigate the causes of that breakdown at all.
Which is exactly why Democrats can’t give an inch on the scope of the commission. It would be tantamount to helping Republicans bury the truth about what happened and, more broadly, helping them obscure the truth about their own ongoing radicalization, which is a central fact about our times.