Issue One's National Council on Election Integrity is a bipartisan group of government, political and civic leaders who are devoted to defending the legitimacy of free and fair elections. The following is signed by 26 members, including former members of Congress from both the Democratic and Republican parties.
On Jan. 6, 2021, the United States witnessed a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to prevent a peaceful transfer of power following the most secure election in American history, which also had the largest voter turnout in over a century.
Hundreds of people who participated in the incursion have pleaded guilty to various serious crimes, and scores of others are in the process of being prosecuted.
This attack was an effort to overturn the will of the people and highlights a disturbing and ongoing trend to subvert and erode our nation’s democratic norms and institutions.
In the coming weeks, beginning Thursday night, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol will convene its first public hearings since July, when law enforcement officers who responded to the siege testified and shared their harrowing stories. Since then, the committee has conducted more than 1,000 interviews with key witnesses and obtained tens of thousands of documents that shed new light on the events surrounding the attack.
The aim is simple: a shared and factual understanding of the events of that day.
Congress has previously conducted bipartisan hearings that revealed critically important information and helped the country move forward through deeply challenging times. Examples include hearings on the sinking of the Titanic, the "Teapot Dome" scandal and Watergate. Hopefully, the upcoming hearings will provide Americans with the facts about what happened and nonpartisan, commonsense solutions to secure our Capitol and the stability of our democracy.
Preventing another Jan. 6 isn't a partisan issue, and these hearings should not be used by anyone – including Democrats and Republicans inside or outside Congress – as an opportunity to score political points. The committee's serious and well-intentioned work is far too important to be turned into a political circus by partisans inside and outside the beltway.
'A good-faith, bipartisan investigation'
Before these public hearings begin, let us all remember what led to this investigation: While both chambers of Congress and a sitting vice president met to perform their constitutional duty and affirm the results of a free and fair election, a mob of citizens fueled by disinformation launched an attack on our country and turned what should have been a peaceful ceremony into a fatal day.
Our group and other cross-partisan organizations initially advocated for a 9/11-style commission (independent of Congress) to investigate the events of Jan. 6 – an idea that garnered bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
When the committee was initially created, some members of our council were concerned it would not be adequately bipartisan. However, this select committee conducted a serious, good-faith and bipartisan investigation. It demonstrated a deep commitment to finding the truth and focused on the facts.
We believe this committee should focus on three key goals:
►Inform the public about the timeline of events leading up to the events of Jan. 6, 2021.
►Determine who orchestrated the attack and whether they have been held accountable.
►Address how to improve security at the U.S. Capitol without turning it into a guarded fortress, as well as how to secure our democracy as a whole.
Americans might initially watch these hearings out of curiosity, or because they are tired of the shouting from the left and right on cable news programs. But people will stay tuned in if the hearings actually reveal new facts, elevate nonpartisan solutions and are respectfully conducted in a tone so even-handed that listeners cannot easily distinguish Democratic from Republican questions. A hearing like that will show that Congress can get important work done.
We commend each of the committee members, Democrats and Republicans, for running a serious investigation, placing country above party and prioritizing national security. The American people deserve nothing less than an objective and truthful account of what happened on and prior to that Jan. 6.
This is a solemn and consequential moment in our history. Democrats, Republicans and independents alike should watch these hearings. It is imperative that we take concrete action to ensure that assaults like this on our country never happen again.
The members who signed this are:
Former U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La.
Former Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, D-Ill.
Former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile
Retired Gen. James Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Former Director of National Intelligence and U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind.
Former U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.
Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.
Former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.
Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, R-Ky.
Former U.S. Rep. Steve Gunderson, R-Wis.
Former Secretary of Defense and U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.
Former U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif.
Former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
Former election official Amber McReynolds, governor for the U.S. Postal Service
Former U.S. Rep. Susan Molinari, R-N.Y.
Former Ambassador Connie Morella, R-Md.
Janet Murguía, president & CEO of UnidosUS
Retired Adm. Bill Owens, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Former Secretary of Defense and U.S. Rep. Leon Panetta, D-Calif.
Former U.S. Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio
Former U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis.
Former Ambassador Tim Roemer, D-Ind.
Retired Adm. Michael Rogers, former director of the National Security Agency
Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele
Former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: January 6 committee hearings are a time for facts, not partisan circus