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New Senate report to detail security failures on January 6 but will fuel fight for probe over Trump’s role

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Two Senate committees plan to release a flurry of recommendations in a thorough 100-page-plus report about what went wrong on January 6, but they will stop short of examining former President Donald Trump’s role in the run-up to the attack on the US Capitol, which is likely to fuel the partisan debate about whether further investigation is needed.

The Senate Rules and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees are expected to release their findings on the security failures that led to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol next week, which includes a detailed look at how security failures, poor planning, slow response time from law enforcement and lackluster sharing of intelligence and communications all contributed to the deadly insurrection where the Capitol was breached, according to sources familiar with the effort.

The report’s recommendations are likely to provide the basis of a new funding package in the Senate aimed at beefing up Capitol security, an issue that became mired in a partisan fight in the House last month.

The Senate investigation has been conducted in a bipartisan manner by Democratic and Republican leaders of the two committees — but the release of the report undoubtedly will spawn a fierce battle between the two parties about what else should be done to look into the events of January 6, if anything at all. That’s because the Senate investigation had a narrow scope, focusing namely on security problems leading up to the deadly insurrection — and not the role that Trump played fueling the insurrectionists by claiming the 2020 election had been stolen from him.

The work of the two Senate panels has already been cited by Republicans as a key reason why further investigations are not necessary, saying their findings — combined with Justice Department probes of the insurrectionists — are reason enough to block an outside commission from investigating January 6.

“I’ve been very consistent here from minute one that I thought the early commission was a bad idea,” said Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, the ranking Republican on the Senate Rules Committee and co-author of the forthcoming report. “I think it would get in the way of us doing what we otherwise need to do.”

Blunt added: “I think it would be a bad idea to rush into a commission until we have done the things we know we need to do right now.”

But Democrats, including the committee chairs who led the Senate investigation, have argued there’s more to investigate and that a 9/11-style commission is still needed to provide a comprehensive accounting of the events surrounding the January 6 insurrection. The Senate voted last week 54 to 35 on legislation that would have created the commission, falling short of the 60 votes need to advance the bill. Six Republicans voted in favor, and a seventh who missed the vote said he would have joined them.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, said her panel’s probe is not a substitute for the work of an outside commission, saying the report focuses on “things that can be done now,” including with the US Capitol Police and intelligence sharing.

“That’s a different thing than with the (outside) commission would be, which is just longer-term systemic issues that led to this and also longer-term systemic changes,” Klobuchar told CNN.

Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the commission would take a “much broader” look than the “immediate steps” detailed in the Senate report.

“We’re also looking at some intelligence failures, and some recommendations roughly regarding the National Guard, but it’s meant to be an opportunity to look at some quick recommendations for some relatively quick action to make sure that we’re safeguarding the Capitol,” Peters said. “We’re dealing with a very complex issue here that, and the more folks that are looking into it the better, because ultimately, we want to make sure that what we saw happen on January 6th never happens again.”

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, the ranking Republican on Peters’ committee, and who was one of the seven GOP senators to support advancing a bill to create the outside commission, said the investigation is “serious” and focused on “well-researched evidence, findings, leading to specific recommendations.”

“But it’s not meant to cover everything, which is what I think some of my Democratic colleagues had hoped — for it to be more about Trump and about the motivations,” Portman said. “It’s more about what happened that day. Why we weren’t better prepared, how we can get better prepared, why the response was so slow.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi first proposed the independent commission, and Democrats were hopeful a bipartisan deal struck by House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and raking Republican John Katko of New York was going to lead to its creation. But Republican House leaders opposed the deal, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition helped lead to its failure in the Senate.

Now House Democrats are contemplating their next steps, including whether to try to appoint a select committee to investigate January 6 or to try to pressure the Senate to vote on the commission again. The Senate report that’s being released next week could provide fodder for Democrats to point out what areas of inquiry weren’t covered by the Senate.

The two Senate committees announced their joint investigation in the days following the January 6 attack, and unlike the House committees that have probed various aspects of the insurrection, the Senate investigation has remained bipartisan throughout. Aides say the goal of the report is to have all of the findings and recommendations approved by all four committee leaders.

The committees conducted high-profile public hearings in February and March in the lead-up to the report. The first was with the former US Capitol Police chief, the House and Senate Sergeant at Arms — all of whom resigned following the January 6 attack — and the Washington Metropolitan Police chief. The second hearing included testimony from FBI, Pentagon, Homeland Security and National Guard officials.

The panels have interviewed additional witnesses as part of their investigation, and senators requested documents about January 6 from more than 20 federal agencies, though not all were forthcoming, aides say. The report is expected to include recommendations focused on the immediate security needs at the Capitol, as well looking at how to ensure DHS and the FBI are adequately addressing the threat of domestic terrorism.

The recommendations are likely to set the stage for the Senate to produce its own supplemental funding bill to improve security at the Capitol. The House last week passed its own $1.9 billion spending bill for Capitol security by the narrowest of margins, 213 to 212. Republicans opposed the legislation, which was based in part on recommendations made by retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré, who was tapped by Pelosi to review Capitol security.

But Senate Appropriations leaders in both parties were cool to the House proposal, which included a quick reaction force to respond to crises and retractable fencing, along with money for hiring more officers and equipment upgrade. They made clear they were planning to strike out in their own direction putting together the funding package.

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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