Calls for US Capitol riot probe as Trump's legal woes mount

AFP , Monday 15 Feb 2021

'There's no question -- none -- that president Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,' McConnell told the chamber after the vote.

Trump Supporters
In this file photo taken on January 6, 2021 Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol in Washington DC AFP

Most Republicans in the US Senate voted to acquit former president Donald Trump in last week's impeachment trial, but bipartisan calls were mounting for a government-backed probe into the January 6 Capitol attack.

Here is a look at the likely impacts of such an investigation -- and the possible implications for Trump.

- Trump's actions -
Senator Mitch McConnell, the powerful Senate minority leader who voted to acquit the former president on constitutional grounds, has blamed Trump for the Capitol riots.

Trump loyalists stormed the building in a effort to halt the final certification of President Joe Biden's election victory.

"There's no question -- none -- that president Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day," McConnell told the chamber after the vote.

"President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office," McConnell added. "He didn't get away with anything yet."

The Democrats say Trump, who held a rally urging supporters to "fight like hell", was to blame for inciting the crowd that smashed its way into Congress.

Trump's defense lawyers have drawn attention to the fact he said protesters should demonstrate "peacefully and patriotically."

- Criminal investigations -
Several lawmakers have said they want a special commission to examine January 6 and the events leading up to the attack on the US Capitol that left five people dead.

Such an investigation is only one item on a growing list of legal headaches Trump faces now he is a private citizen without presidential immunity.

Trump is already the target of at least one criminal investigation, led by Manhattan prosecutor Cyrus Vance, who has been fighting for months to obtain eight years of Trump's tax returns.

Initially focused on payments before the 2016 presidential election to two women who claim they had affairs with Trump, the state-level probe is also now examining possible allegations of tax evasion, as well as insurance and bank fraud.

Last week, a prosecutor in Georgia revealed she was investigating Trump's efforts to subvert the state's results in the November 3 election by pressuring local officials to alter the vote count.

He is also being investigated by Washington authorities for his role in the Capitol attack, and is additionally fending off civil lawsuits, including from two women who have alleged he sexually assaulted them and are suing him for defamation.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing in all of these cases.

Legal experts have said scoring a conviction against Trump for his role in the insurrection is unlikely, given that his statements would be subject to First Amendment freedom of expression protections.

- '9/11 style' commission -
An exhaustive probe was launched following the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks that killed about 3,000 people in the United States.

Democratic Senator Chris Coons, who like all Senate Democrats voted to impeach Trump, said a special commission with similar scope was needed to look at the Capitol insurrection.

"There's still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear," he told ABC News on Sunday.

A special "commission is a way to make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward and that we lay bare the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his constitutional oath president Trump really was."

- Bipartisan push -
Trump was acquitted in a 57-43 Senate vote that fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for conviction of inciting the January 6 assault.

Seven Republicans joined Democrats to vote in favor of Trump's conviction.

Several Republicans have said they want a full and independent investigation into the insurrection.

"We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened to make sure it never happens again," Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Trump's former president's fiercest defenders, told Fox News Sunday.

Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who was one of the seven Republicans to vote to convict, said there should be "complete investigation".

Trump "should be held accountable," Cassidy told ABC News.

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