ACLU Calls on House Leaders to Order House Committees to Investigate Allegations of Lawmakers’ Involvement in U.S. Capitol Attack

January 15, 2021 4:30 pm

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WASHINGTON — The ACLU sent a letter today urging House leaders to order standing committees of the House to investigate allegations of lawmakers’ involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and recommend disciplinary action if warranted.

On Jan. 6, an unruly mob of President Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol carrying weapons, tactical gear, and — in symbols of the white supremacy underpinning their violent acts — Confederate flags, swastikas, and nooses, in an attempt to subvert the peaceful transfer of power. Five people died in the course of the assault. These violent acts aimed to prevent the certification of the Electoral College results and block members of Congress from carrying out their constitutional duty to count the votes in order to keep President Trump in office. The ACLU’s letter calls on House leaders to rely on their constitutional authority to order House committees to investigate allegations of the involvement of members of Congress or congressional employees in planning, facilitating, or otherwise conspiring with the individuals who mounted this attack on the Capitol and its occupants.

Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution provides: “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.”

“Our leaders must be held accountable if involved in such a heinous effort to undermine our democracy,” said Ronnie Newman, ACLU national political director. “The House has a constitutional obligation to investigate these serious allegations and hold its own members accountable if any member conspired in the attack on the Capitol — and on the constitutional and democratic duty Congress was undertaking of counting the votes at the very moment of the attack.”

The letter points to a number of publicly reported allegations that certain members of Congress or congressional employees may have deliberately coordinated with Trump’s followers in the lead-up to or on the day of their assault on the Capitol. These allegations include:

  • An allegation by Representative Mikie Sherrill that unusual numbers of visitors had been given in-person “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol complex on the day before the attack and that only a member of Congress or their staff could have provided such access, thereby contributing to those individuals’ detailed knowledge of the Capitol complex layout and locations of lawmakers;
  • An allegation by at least two House members that another member may have broadcast real-time information via Twitter about the House Speaker’s location during the ongoing assault;
  • Reports that “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander stated, in a since-deleted video, that Reps. Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, and Paul Gosar had “schemed” together with Trump followers to put “maximum pressure” on members of Congress during their certification of Electoral College results; and
  • Allegations of improper conduct by U.S. Capitol Police during the attack, which have prompted internal investigations.

The gravity of last Wednesday’s events also prompted the ACLU to call for both the impeachment of President Trump and the appointment of a special counsel to investigate, and if warranted, prosecute President Trump and his associates for their attempts to subvert the outcome of the election.

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