On Jan. 6, hundreds of our fellow citizens stormed the U.S. Capitol, armed and ready for battle. For hours, broadcast live on television and streamed on social media, rioters attacked law enforcement and eventually breached the halls of Congress in an effort to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election.
Their goal was to subvert America’s democratic process — and their means to this end was brute force and violent assaults on the men and women of the Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department.
How did this happen? Why? Who spurred this effort? Was it organized? When did our government leaders know of the impending attacks and what were their responses? What level of preparation or warnings did our law enforcement have? Was there coordination between the rioters and any members of Congress, or with staff?
We need answers and we need accountability, and the only way to get that is a full investigation and understanding of what happened to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. Such an investigation should include a serious look at the misinformation campaigns and their origins, the lies being perpetuated by leaders — including by former President Donald Trump — and what impact such false narratives had on the events leading up to and following Jan. 6. We need to be fearless about understanding the motivations of our fellow Americans, even if it makes us uncomfortable about the truth of who they are and the truth of who played what role in inspiring them.
I’ve never been pessimistic about the future of this country, but if we fail to do this — and do this right — I will have serious doubts about what the future looks like for America and for our democracy. Self-governance requires accountability and responsibility, and it’s why I accepted Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s appointment to serve on the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which is holding its first hearing on Tuesday.
I’m a Republican dedicated to conservative values, but I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution — and while this is not the position I expected to be in or sought out, when duty calls, I will always answer.
This moment is bigger than me — it’s bigger than all of us because the future of our country is on the line. This is not about politics: For my part, my wife Sofia and I are expecting a baby boy early next year, and I have to make sure the future is a better one for him — that the America he’ll be born into is better than what we are facing right now. That facts will be the facts, and truth will prevail over the lies and conspiracies.
The oath many of us take to uphold our Constitution and defend democracy means something. I’ve taken this oath in my capacity as a member of Congress and in my service in the U.S. Air Force, and Air National Guard. And I’m committed to upholding my oath by serving on this committee to ensure we have accountability and transparency about the Jan. 6 insurrection.
In that spirit, I believe that all of us who have taken oaths to defend our Constitution must play a role in this inquiry if called upon. This includes members of Congress, military leaders, White House officials and key players in our intelligence field, among others.
Without question, the work of this committee needs to be a nonpartisan effort. It cannot continue to be a partisan fight, where we’re taking every opportunity to discredit each other for perceived political points or fund-raising efforts. The childish mudslinging is not helpful and damages the already fragile integrity of our institutions. I urge all of my colleagues — as well as the American people — to unplug the rage machine and see this situation through clear eyes: America was attacked, and we deserve to know why and how it happened.
We need to restore some trust in this country, and that requires a full investigation of what happened and how the insurrection was able to take place. That’s the goal. We need the facts — and we need to lay them out for the country to see for themselves and face them head on. In order to heal from the damage caused that day, we must acknowledge and understand what happened, hold the responsible people accountable, learn from our past mistakes and move on — stronger and secured in knowing that we as a nation will never let this happen again.
Adam Kinzinger is a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Illinois and a member of the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
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