No independent investigation has been launched 6 weeks after the attack despite promises from Nancy Pelosi and others. In the meantime, many of the most shocking things we’ve been told, from police officers beaten to death to capture and kill teams stalking the halls, have proven false. Will we ever get the full story?
Let me start by saying the obvious: Every American, whether on the left or the right, should want a transparent, thorough, and public investigation of every aspect of the assault on the Capitol that occurred on January 6. This investigation should include the perpetrators, any pre planning or organization, and their motivations, plus an accounting of security failures before, during, and after the event. Former President Donald Trump’s role in the attack is fair game, of course, but so are the decisions of the Capitol Police, the Mayor of DC, Muriel Bowser, and the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, as well and others responsible for security.
This should be obvious and agreed upon by all without any controversy whatsoever. Unfortunately, early indications suggest this is far from what is happening. At least right now, it certainly appears the politicians, government officials, and the mainstream media are tainting the investigation for political purposes, crafting a narrative that supports a sustained, armed insurrection mounted by right wing domestic terrorists, regardless of the actual facts on the ground.
Alas, this process started almost immediately after the tragic assault.
Consider the case of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died the day after. As soon as January 8, The New York Times claimed that Sicknick was bludgeoned in the head with a fire extinguisher and then left for dead by a pro-Trump, insurrectionary mob. The Times headlined blared “Capitol Police Officer Dies from Injures in Pro-Trump Rampage.” The article claimed that “two [anonymous] law enforcement officials” said Sicknick died “with the mob rampaging through the halls of Congress” after he “was struck with a fire extinguisher.”
Later that same day, the Times continued the same theme, “He Dreamed of Being a Police Officer, Then was Killed by a Pro-Trump Mob.” This article claimed the mob “overpowered Mr. Sicknick, 42, and struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher…With a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. He died on Thursday evening.” The same story was picked up by the Associated Press, referenced by leading columnists such as Nicholas Kristof, talked about on CNN, even the now-disgraced Lincoln Project got in on the act.
Of course, this story was also picked up by leading Democrats. On February 4th, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “Officer Sicknick is a martyr for democracy,” after the deceased officer was laid in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. The Democrats also cited Sicknick in their pre-impeachment trial memo, noting that “insurrectionists killed a Capitol police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher.” President Joe Biden said, “It was nearly two weeks ago that Jill and I paid our respects to Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who laid in honor in the Rotunda after losing his life protecting the Capitol from a riotous, violent mob on January 6, 2021.”
The only problem: The story wasn’t true. You might be surprised to learn that Sicknick wasn’t struck in the head, wasn’t put on life support, and didn’t die at the hands of a pro-Trump mob. Even as early as January 8, ProPublica called the entire story into question. They reported that Sicknick’s brother, Ken, had been in touch with him right after the attack. “He texted me last night and said, ‘I got pepper-sprayed twice,’ and he was in good shape,” Ken said. “Apparently he collapsed in the Capitol and they resuscitated him using CPR.”
On February 2, CNN, of all places, reported that there were no signs he “sustained any blunt force trauma.” It probably goes without saying that they buried this in the middle of an article, noting almost offhand, “so investigators believe that early reports that he was fatally struck by a fire extinguisher are not true.” The Times article has now been surreptitiously updated, noting “New information has emerged regarding the death of the Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick that questions the initial cause of his death provided by officials close to the Capitol police.”
It’s important to remember that the House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden all repeated this false story after the facts were known. To this day, we do not know Sicknick’s cause of death, no autopsy results have been released, and, to my knowledge, the authorities have said nothing at all about it. ProPublica claims “the family got word that Brian Sicknick had a blood clot and had had a stroke…A ventilator was keeping him alive,” but we do not know for sure.
You might also be surprised to learn that claims of an “armed insurrection” don’t necessarily include firearms. The only person killed with a firearm was, in fact, one of the rioters, shot by Capitol Police. Otherwise, none of the rioters in the building have been charged with so much as possession of a firearm, much less actually using one. The Department of Justice describes the weapons found on the scene, “During the course of the violent protests, several violent protestors were armed with weapons including bats, pepper spray, sticks, zip ties, as well as bulletproof vests and anti-tear gas masks.”
Unfortunately, the Department of Justice itself has also pushed false stories. On January 15, Reuters reported that “U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to ‘capture and assassinate officials.” The article claimed “federal prosecutors offered an ominous new assessment of last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters on Thursday, saying in a court filing that rioters intended ‘to capture and assassinate elected officials.’”
Clearly, this was explosive stuff. Everyone understands the difference between the formation of a spontaneous mob and an assassination plot, and that one is far, far worse than the other. Once again, however, it simply wasn’t true. It was barely a few days later when the Department of Justice retracted the claim, entirely. NBC News reported that an official “walked back a federal claim that Capitol rioters ‘intended to capture and assassinate elected officials.’ Noting, “Washington’s acting U.S. Attorney, Michael Sherwin, said in a telephone briefing, ‘There is no direct evidence at this point of kill-capture teams and assassination.’”
The media used images of a man in the Capitol with zip-tie handcuffs as further proof of the kill and capture scenario. The Washington Post referenced “chatters in far-right forums explicitly discussing how to storm the building, handcuff lawmakers with zip ties.” The New York Times and Politico also got in the act, once again framing the assault as a well-planned conspiracy, complete with restraints for lawmakers.
This time, it was the Federal prosecutors themselves that disputed the story. On January 21, “Eric Munchel, a pro-Trump rioter who stormed the Capitol building while holding plastic handcuffs, took the restraints from a table inside the Capitol building, prosecutors said in a court filing.” Interestingly, Munchel entered the Capitol with his mother. According “to the new filing, Munchel and his mother took the handcuffs from within the Capitol building – apparently to ensure the Capitol Police couldn’t use them on the insurrectionists – rather than bring them in when they initially breached the building.” A second man with zip ties is also believed to have picked them up inside the building.
These are distinctions with huge differences, and yet very little care has been exhibited by the mainstream media and politicians to stick to the facts. Nor has either group displayed much interest in the events leading up to the attack itself.
House Minority Leader, Mark Meadows, told Fox News that Donald Trump offered to deploy 10,000 national guard troops to protect the Capitol on January 6. “We also know that in January, but also throughout the summer, that the president was very vocal in making sure that we had plenty of National Guard, plenty of additional support because he supports our rule of law and supports our law enforcement and offered additional help,” Meadows said to host Maria Bartiromo. “Even in January, that was a given, as many as 10,000 National Guard troops were told to be on the ready by the Secretary of Defense…That was a direct order from President Trump and yet here is what we see…all kinds of blame going around but yet not a whole lot of accountability.” Meadows added, “That accountability needs to rest where it ultimately should be and that’s on Capitol Hill.”
To this day, neither Nancy Pelosi nor Washington DC Mayor, Muriel Bowser, has provided any explanation as to why they rejected the additional support. What exactly were they thinking? The media has also played precious little attention to these inconvenient facts: If Trump wanted to incite the insurrection as the narrative around impeachment claimed, why would he want more troops stationed there, presumably to quell any potential violence that might arise?
The decision making process of the Capitol Police before and during the attack has also been given little scrutiny. Video footage clearly shows some members of the police actually moving barricades for the rioters to enter the building. Were they ordered to do it? Why? No one knows.
So far, only one man has been charged with finding the truth. On January 15, Nancy Pelosi announced that retired Army Lieutenant General Russell Honoré would be leading a review of the U.S. Capitol’s security after the attack. “We must subject this whole complex though to scrutiny in light of what happened and the fact that the inauguration is coming. To that end, I have asked Retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré to lead an immediate review of security infrastructure, interagency processes and command and control,” Pelosi told reporters at a weekly press conference.
Honoré, unfortunately, appears also to be a stone cold partisan hack. Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, said, “I mean some of the statements that the General has made are just downright crazy. It’s just unbelievable, and it shows that Nancy Pelosi isn’t interested in getting any facts. She is interested in power and in amassing power and an excuse to keep holding power, including those thousands of troops who are still at the Capitol who are still there treating it like an armed camp.”
Honoré, in fact, had previously called on Hawley to be disbarred. “This little piece of shit with his @Yale law degree should be run out of DC and Disbarred ASAP,” he said in a tweet that has since been deleted. Hawley hasn’t been the only Republican target of Honoré’s ire. On MSNBC, he called on then Homeland Security Chief, Chad Wolf, “to be run out of Washington,” saying “He has no business in charge of Homeland Security.” “They are acting like an uncontrolled mob on the street with uniforms and badges that they don’t show,” he said, regarding federal agents in Portland, Oregon, attempting to quell months of rioting. “Police don’t do this. Watch this, what kind of bullshit is this?”
Nancy Pelosi obviously disagrees. “The General is a respected leader with experience dealing with crises,” she said announcing his appointment. She also added that there is “strong interest in the Congress in a 9/11‑type commission, an outside commission to conduct that after‑action review. In the meantime, I am very grateful to General Honoré for taking on this responsibility.”
More than a month later, and this commission has yet to be named. Why the delay? Could it be Nancy Pelosi and others prefer the unfettered lies rather than the actual truth?
Sadly, we may never know. A full accounting will include Pelosi’s actions, or lack of them. “As you are aware, the Speaker of the House is not only the leader of the majority party, but also has enormous institutional responsibilities,” a group of Republican lawmakers recently wrote in a letter to Pelosi herself. “The Speaker is responsible for all operational decisions made within the House.”
The Republicans noted that for the past two years, there has been a “very heavy-handed and tightly controlled approach to House operations that has been exerted by yourself, your staff, and an army of appointed House officials.” “When then-Chief Sund made a request for national guard support on January 4th, why was that request denied?” they asked. “Did Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving get permission or instruction from your staff on January 4th prior to denying Chief Sund’s request for the national guard?”
So far, Pelosi has refused to fully respond, abdicating all responsibility. “It is the job of the Capitol Police Board, on which these three individuals sat, to properly plan and prepare for security threats facing the U.S. Capitol.”
Forgive me if I sound cynical when I suggest that a political agenda and the supporting narrative remains the Speaker’s primary concern, to the detriment of us all.