Key congressman who investigated Jan. 6 evidence: Trump 'not to blame' for violence

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) also slams Nancy Pelosi, warns Capitol not "in a better security posture" since the riots.

Updated: June 9, 2022 - 11:08am

A Republican congressman who spent months investigating U.S. Capitol security after the Jan. 6 riot said Wednesday that former President Donald Trump "is not to blame" for the violence that occurred that day and warned Democrats' politicization of upcoming hearings has harmed the ability of Congress to improve security after the harrowing episode.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) the ranking member on the House Administration Committee, is a unique voice on the Capitol riot for two reasons: Trump has endorsed his opponent in an upcoming Illinois GOP primary, and Davis survived a prior act of violence targeting lawmakers when a deranged gunman opened fire during a congressional baseball game in 2017.

"Look, I will tell you, I don't think we're in a better security posture than we were leading up to January 6th," Davis told the "Just the News, Not Noise" television show, reacting to a Just the News report Tuesday night that Capitol Police had identified 53 intelligence and security failures in a secret report after the Jan. 6 riot. "I think that's a direct failure of Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats not addressing some of the security failures that happened that day.

"Do I feel protected on the campus? I do. The Capitol Police are brave men and women. They saved my life on a baseball field almost five years ago, and the lives of so many of my colleagues. They're my heroes for doing that. But they were put in a terrible position because of politics and because of optics. And that was done by the person who controls the security apparatus of the Capitol. And that is Nancy Pelosi."

Davis has been forced to run against fellow GOP Rep. Mary Miller for a newly redistricted Illinois House seat later this month. Trump endorsed Miller after Davis voted to certify the 2020 election results and supported a bipartisan investigation of Jan. 6, something Democrats rejected. But Davis is strongly supported by GOP leadership and has backed Trump routinely, including serving as cochairman of the president's Illinois campaign.

As the top Republican on the House Administration Committee that oversees the Capitol, Davis and his investigators pored over thousands of pages of emails, texts and police files to identify the security failures that allowed a rowdy crowd to overrun the Capitol and its $600 million-per-year police force.

Davis denounced plans by House Democrats on the Jan. 6 committee to hold prime-time hearings Thursday night scripted by a Hollywood producer, saying they will only politically distract from assigning blame where it belongs and identifying unresolved security lapses at the Capitol.

"It's frustrating that the mainstream media will use this opportunity to go after President Trump," he said. "Look when my friends and I, including Steve Scalise, got shot at by a crazed gunman who was screaming health care while he was firing at us, he was inspired by the rhetoric coming from people like Nancy Pelosi back then, who said Republican policies were killing people. And Bernie Sanders too.

"And not one time did I or any of my colleagues blame Bernie Sanders or Speaker Pelosi for the violent activity that was perpetrated by one crazed individual. And President Trump is not to blame for what happened on Jan. 6. It's those who broke the law that are to blame."

Davis noted Democrats hoping to portray Trump as the instigator of violence on Jan. 6 have a problem with their evidence: Trump took steps to try to protect the Capitol before the riot, such as having his Pentagon offer National Guard troops to Capitol Police on Jan. 2, 2021, and signing an order on Jan. 4 to deploy 20,000 Guardsmen if requested by Congress.

Capitol Police rejected the first offer of troops, documents show, and then when then-Police Chief Steve Sund decided he wanted the troops a few days later he was turned down by the House sergeant at arms because of concerns about the "optics" of having troops in the Capitol, Davis noted.

Davis said Pelosi's efforts to distance herself from rejecting the National Guard request or pretend she didn't have a say on the security that failed on Jan. 6 were "demonstrably false."

"The Speaker and her team through testimony that we've seen in investigations that were done by the Senate, by the Senate Rules Committee immediately after Jan.  6, the speaker and her team, we have evidence that they controlled the security-making decisions here on the Capitol Complex, long before Jan.  6," he said.

"And frankly, these are things that need to change, to really protect the Capitol and to really protect our brave men and women in the Capitol Police," he added. "We need to make sure we take the politics out of these security decisions."

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