Capitol Riot

NJ Republican Who Led 9/11 Commission Says New Inquiry Needed for Capitol Riot

Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean said a new commission could determine "why wasn't Washington prepared" for the siege on Jan. 6 as Congress was ratifying the Electoral College votes.

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The attack at the Capitol on Jan. 6 in Washington D.C. needs more investigation because “we need to know what happened and not just guess what happened,” the head of the 9/11 Commission told NBC10 on Friday.

“The American people deserve the truth, that’s the first and most important reason” to get all the facts, according to New Jersey's former Republican Gov. Tom Kean, who served as chair of the commission.

Kean said the report produced from an investigation in the Capitol siege can make recommendations “so this never, ever happens again.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has suggested creating a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Capitol riot, which happened on the day Congress was meeting in a joint session to count electoral votes for the 2020 presidential election. 

For the 9/11 Commission, Kean served as chair while a Democrat, former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, served as vice chair. They both recently signed a letter released through the Bipartisan Policy Center supporting an investigation to “ensure that the American people learn the truth of what happened that day.”

The 9/11 Commission had a staff of 80 people and a budget of $15 million.

Kean said if a new commission is created, it does not need to be the same size, but should have the same structure, with members appointed “who aren’t going to fight with each other” and many from outside Washington.

 “The people are very, very important,” he said about the makeup of an investigative body. “They’ve gotta have subpoena power. Because we found out that people don’t really want to talk to you very often. But if you have the power of subpoena, they’ll talk to you because they don’t want to be subpoenaed.”

Kean said the commission only used its subpoena power one time, when “the FAA lied to us about what the planes were doing on that day on Sept. 11. And so once they lied to us, we subpoenaed all their records and subpoenaed them, sat them down, and made them tell the truth.”

Calls for further investigation come after an impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump revealed new details about how close the rioters came to members of Congress, and new video from inside and outside the Capitol. Many questions remain, though, including what was happening inside the White House on the day of the attack.

Kean said a commission would be able to get that information.

“You talk to people who were in the White House at the time, bring them before the commission. If there’s something secret, or something, you can always do it in executive session," he said. "But you need those facts and you need to call the people who know those facts."

Getting to the bottom of things may also include talking to the rioters who were at the Capitol that day, he said.

Asked whether the commission should try to talk to former President Trump and whether they would be able to do so, Kean responded: “I would think they’d be able to – why not?”

However, Kean said it would be important to make clear that the commission is not a trial or an effort to “to go after Donald Trump.”

“This is a commission to get the facts for the American people,” Kean said. “Why wasn’t Washington prepared?”

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