Fox News anchor Chris Wallace confronted Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, over his and other GOP leaders’ opposition to a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection against the U.S. Capitol, asking whether he can “honestly say” he is putting the country’s interests over those of his political party.
Former President Donald Trump‘s supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6 after he and his allies repeatedly lied about the 2020 election results, claiming that President Joe Biden only won through widespread voter fraud. Ahead of the attack, the former Republican president told his supporters to “fight like hell” and “march” to the Capitol.
Although GOP congressional leaders have expressed opposition to a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection, 35 House Republicans defected and voted with Democrats to approve the legislation last week.
Wallace questioned Blunt, chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, during a Fox News Sunday interview over his opposition to the commission. The Fox News host pointed out that the former chairs of the bipartisan commission that looked into the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks have released a statement voicing their backing of the January 6 commission.
“They support creation of this panel,” Wallace said, before proceeding to read an excerpt of the statement from former Republican Governor Thomas Kean and former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton. “Unity of purpose was key to the effectiveness of the [9/11 commission] group. We put country above party, without bias,” the excerpt of the lengthier statement said.
“The question is whether the commission, an independent commission—no members of Congress—can serve a useful function … Can you honestly say in opposing this commission, coming out down the line, that you’re putting country above party?” Wallace asked Blunt.
Blunt responded by saying the events of 9/11 and January 6 were “the two seminal moments” during his time in Congress, “where the country, the Capitol city itself were under an attack that we wouldn’t have anticipated.” But the GOP senator argued that the 9/11 commission “had a lot more information available to it when it started than this one would have.”
“We made a lot of decisions before the 9/11 commission started that were important to further support and secure the Capitol, to further look at our intelligence failures,” Blunt said. “We need to be doing all of those things. We’ll see what my colleagues think. There’s been very little bipartisan discussions between the House and Senate,” he said.
Earlier in the interview, Blunt argued that it was “too early” to establish the commission. The Republican lawmaker said that the Justice Department and other legal authorities are already investigating the attack, pressing charges and doing what needs to be done.
Blunt also noted that committees have held hearings about the failures that led to the breach of the Capitol. The GOP senator’s remarks were in line with the views expressed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, last week.
“There will continue to be no shortage of robust investigations by two separate branches of the federal government,” McConnell said during a Wednesday Senate floor speech. “It’s not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could lay on top of the existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress.”
Other Republican lawmakers disagree. Representative Adam Kinzinger—an Illinois Republican and staunch Trump critic who voted to impeach the former president following the assault on the Capitol—criticized GOP leaders for their opposition to the commission in an interview with Fox News Sunday as well. Kinzinger said that Americans and Republican voters deserve the “truth” about what happened.
“And my party, to this point, has said things like, ‘it was hugs and kisses,’ ‘it was antifa and BLM,'” the GOP congressman said. “It was anything but what it was, which was a Trump-inspired insurrection on the Capitol and people deserve to hear the truth.”
Newsweek reached out to Blunt’s press representatives for further comment.