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Following Trump’s Acquittal In Senate Impeachment Trial, What Happens Next In Inquiry Into January 6th Capitol Attack




US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, with House impeachment managers, speaks to the press after the Senate voted to acquit former US President Donald Trump, in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 13, 2021.
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, with House impeachment managers, speaks to the press after the Senate voted to acquit former US President Donald Trump, in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 13, 2021.
ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images

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Former President Donald Trump may have been acquitted in the Senate impeachment trial where he faced a charge of incitement of insurrection, but the legal and governmental inquiry in his role in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol Building by a violent mob of pro-Trump extremists is just getting started.

A Democratic congressman accused Donald Trump in a federal lawsuit on Tuesday of inciting the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and of conspiring with his lawyer and extremist groups to try to prevent the Senate from certifying the results of the presidential election he lost to Joe Biden. The lawsuit from Mississippi's Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is part of an expected wave of litigation over the Jan. 6 riot and is believed to be the first filed by a member of Congress. It seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages. Lawyers for Trump have denied that he incited the riot. The suit, filed in federal court in Washington under a Reconstruction-era law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, comes three days after Trump was acquitted in a Senate impeachment trial that centered on allegations that he incited the riot, in which five people died. That acquittal is likely to open the door to fresh legal scrutiny over Trump's actions before and during the siege. 

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that Congress will establish an independent, Sept. 11-style commission to look into the deadly insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol. Pelosi said the commission will “investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex … and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power." In a letter to Democratic colleagues, Pelosi said the House will also put forth supplemental spending to boost security at the Capitol. In her letter Monday, Pelosi said, “It is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened.”

Today on AirTalk, we’ll look at what happens now that the Senate impeachment trial is over, the potential continuing legal exposure of the former president, and what this 9/11-style commission would do.

With files from the Associated Press

Guests:

Susan McWilliams Barndt, chair and professor of politics at Pomona College and editor of American Political Thought Journal

Pratheepan Gulasekaram, professor of law at Santa Clara Law, where he specializes in constitutional and immigration law; he tweets @pgdeep

Hal Kempfer, CEO of Global Risk Intelligence and Planning (GRIP), a management consulting firm based in Long Beach, and retired Marine lieutenant colonel; he has worked in military support for homeland security and defense both as an active member of the military and as a civilian