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Democrats seek commission to probe Michigan ties to Capitol insurrection

Capitol insurrection
So far, nine Michiganders have been charged for participating in the Jan. 6 riots in Washington D.C. The charges range from disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds to knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry. (screenshot/C-SPAN live stream)

LANSING — A group of Democrats in the Michigan Legislature wants a bipartisan commission to investigate the state’s ties to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

House Minority Leader Rep. Donna Lasinski, D-Scio Township, and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, announced Tuesday a concurrent resolution to call for the creation of the bipartisan joint select committee.

“As leaders, we must learn from this incident and seek accountability to protect our democracy and prevent future attacks on our democratic institutions,” Lasinski told reporters. “Let's identify and hold accountable those responsible for instigating, inciting and carrying out the Capitol attack.”

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Similar efforts to create a bipartisan commission on the federal level have failed, despite receiving support from nine of the 14 members in the Michigan House congressional delegation. Republicans including former President Donald Trump have called the efforts political theater.

“We have an obligation here to continue that work at the state level if Congress cannot,” Lasinski said. “We must come together in a bipartisan fashion to investigate exactly what role Michigan has played in the lead up to and execution of the Jan. 6 insurrection.”

The effort is likely dead on arrival before Republicans who control the Legislature. House Speaker  Jason Wentworth, R-Clare, is "not interested in this stunt," said his spokesperson, Gideon D'Assandro,

"The only reason a state legislator would be the one to investigate what happened (hundreds of) miles away at the literal seat of another government is for political grandstanding," he said.

So far, nine Michigan residents have been charged with crimes relating to the riot. The charges range from disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds to knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry.

A handful of Republicans who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 are running for office, while Michigan GOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock helped organize buses from Michigan to Washington D.C. for a rally before the pro-Trump mob stormed into the Capitol.

She left before the mob moved on the Capitol and has condemned the violence.

The announcement comes as more information is emerging about Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the November election. 

On Tuesday, U.S. House Oversight Committee members received emails showing that a Trump assistant in December sent incoming Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen documents related to debunked claims about election fraud in Antrim County in northern Michigan, according to the New York Times.

"Michigan cannot certify for Biden," the document sent Dec. 14 claimed, The Detroit News reported.

Trump used the allegations — which stemmed from a clerical error that briefly had the solidly Republican county voting for Democrat Joe Biden — to falsely claim the election was stolen. He repeated the claims on the day his supporters stormed the Capitol.

Lasinski said the state commission would have the ability to issue subpoenas and “examine records.”

“What we know now is there are a lot of questions that need to be answered, questions that are important to us — understanding what happens, why it happens and how we can prevent it from ever happening again,” Lasinski said. 

Abby Walls, the spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, told Bridge Michigan in an email that “it would seem that any investigation of criminal wrongdoing would be best handled by the relevant law enforcement.”

Ananich said he will “keep explaining (to Republicans) this is not about partisanship, but it's about being above partisanship.”

He added the commission would also likely investigate an April 2020 protest that led to armed protestors inside the Michigan Capitol. 

“It's important that we determine or help determine … if April of last year really was a dress rehearsal for what happened in January,” Ananich said. “And if we could have those conversations in a meaningful, productive way, in a bipartisan way, we can get answers that I think others will not be able to get.”

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