Congressional leaders have launched a sweeping investigation into the federal handling of the Capitol insurrection, including security and intelligence failures which allowed pro-Trump extremists to storm the building in a deadly attack as lawmakers convened to certify the 2020 election.
The probe will be overseen by seven House committees after Speaker Nancy Pelosi was unable to secure bipartisan support for an independent review of the incident, which left at least five people dead, as some House Republicans who supported former President Donald Trump’s false conspiracy theories about a stolen election refused to back the measure.
In a letter sent to at least 16 federal agencies, from the U.S. Park Police to the White House, lawmakers demanded any communications relating to the January 6th session.
One of those letters, which Politico reported were identical in their requests, was sent to the Justice Department. It read in part: “We understand that the Department continues to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in the events on January 6, 2021.”
“We are happy to work with you to ensure that the document requests in this letter do not interfere with ongoing investigations and prosecutions,” the letter continued.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump defended some of his supporters who rioted at the Capitol on Thursday, saying they posed “zero threat” to the lawmakers who had assembled there to certify the Electoral College vote that confirmed President Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race.
Mr Trump complained to Fox News’ Laura Ingraham that law enforcement was “persecuting” the Capitol rioters, while “nothing happens” to left-wing protesters.
The former president did acknowledge that those who stormed the Capitol “went in and they shouldn’t have done it.”
But he added: “Some of them went in and they’re, they’re hugging and kissing the police and the guards. You know, they had great relationships. A lot of the people were waved in and then they walked in and they walked out.”
More than 300 people have been charged in connection to the riot. Authorities have said they believe at least 100 more could face charges.
The January 6 riot followed a fiery Trump rally outside the White House, in which he urged a mob of his supporters to “fight like hell” for him at the Capitol. A week later, the House impeached Mr Trump for the second time, but the Senate eventually acquitted him on the charge of inciting the attack.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.