In blocking the formation of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Republicans in Congress have all but closed off the possibility of a full and impartial accounting for one of the most serious assaults on American democracy in history, leaving unanswered critical questions with broad implications for politics, security and public trust.
Fearing political damage from any sustained scrutiny of the attack, Republicans united in large numbers against the inquiry, moving to shift an unwelcome spotlight away from former President Donald J. Trump, his election lies that fueled the attack, and the complicity of many G.O.P. lawmakers in amplifying his false claims of widespread voter fraud.
The result is that key details about a shocking act of domestic extremism against the United States government are likely to remain shrouded in mystery, and anything new that may be revealed about the assault at the Capitol will most likely be viewed through a partisan lens, with a substantial proportion of the country rejecting the reality of what transpired.
The public may never know precisely what Mr. Trump and members of his administration did or said as a throng of his supporters stormed the Capitol while Congress met to formalize President Biden’s victory, threatening the lives of lawmakers and the vice president. The full story may never be revealed of why security officials were so unprepared for the breach of the building, supposedly one of the most secure in the nation, despite ample warnings of potential violence. The extent of the role of Republican lawmakers closely allied with Mr. Trump in planning the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that spiraled into a brutal onslaught may remain unexplored.