For an alternate viewpoint, see “Counterpoint: J6 Select Panel Wastes $4 Million.” 

How do you draft a blueprint to ensure accountability for a violent attack on our democracy and prevent similar attacks in the future? Over the last several months, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack has been doing that critical and unprecedented work.

The committee’s investigation revealed a criminal conspiracy to subvert the 2020 presidential election and strike at the U.S. Capitol to prevent a peaceful transfer of power. It reviewed thousands of pieces of evidence and heard extensive testimony showing what many of us suspected on Jan. 6, 2021, but couldn’t yet prove: that former president Donald Trump used his position of preeminent power to pressure the vice president, the Department of Justice and state officials to overturn an election he knew he lost. What’s more, through the committee hearings, we learned that Trump knew of the violent intent of the mob that stormed the Capitol that day.

Speaking truth to power is not easy, but that’s precisely the hard work done by the bipartisan committee through these hearings. They not only did the thorough investigation needed, but they also brought in a parade of longtime GOP officials who witnessed the events of the insurrection firsthand to present the case to the American people. And whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, the committee’s work wasn’t only laudable — it was essential.

If Trump’s actions leading up to the attacks on January 6 provide a blueprint for authoritarians to remain in power, the committee’s coming report will provide a guide for leading the United States out of another potential future constitutional crisis. We must seriously consider its recommendations if we want to close the door on other attempts to undermine elections by powerful people who lose them.

The report will represent the judgment not only of the bipartisan select committee’s members but also of the nonpartisan staff whose work supported the investigation. These include career legal investigators as well as national security experts.

Now that we have the facts, we can start moving toward accountability. The committee’s work revealed serious evidence of criminal behavior, and investigations are rightly proceeding on the federal, state and local levels. The committee is reportedly considering criminal referrals for Trump and his closest allies for their roles in the attack.

But the work doesn’t end when the committee officially dissolves at the end of this Congress. It has only just begun. And collectively, we must remain vigilant to guard against continuing threats to our elections, the rule of law, and democracy.

We must ensure that any future attempt to thwart the will of the voters and prevent the peaceful transfer of power will not be tolerated. We must use the select committee’s findings and strongly consider their recommendations as a guide to avoiding authoritarian pitfalls that may lie ahead.

Unfortunately, extreme Republicans in positions of power have already indicated that they don’t believe in the pursuit of insurrection accountability. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy recently sent a letter to the committee telling it to “preserve all records,” and signaled that House Republicans plan to investigate the committee itself — foolishly committing taxpayer dollars to a sham theater intended to distract from their own eagerness to stand with Trump instead of the Constitution. The circus we can expect to unfold as they attack the work of the January 6 committee and its recommendations will be a partisan sideshow to distract from the main event: the fight to preserve our freedoms, hold Trump and his cronies accountable, and protect our right to vote and have that vote counted.

What’s more, these Trump “ride-or-die” Republicans continue to promote lies about the 2020 election. Recently, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., retweeted and then deleted a post by Trump repeating false claims of fraud that called for a termination of constitutional provisions to throw out the election results, stating, “Unprecedented fraud requires unprecedented cure.”

Trump and his allies are doubling down on their attempt to steal our votes to regain power. In a very real sense, the attack on our nation that culminated on Jan. 6, 2021, continues today. We must take the committee’s recommendations seriously.

Candidates — whether they are the president of the United States, or any other state, federal or local official — don’t get to choose their voters. We get to choose our leaders. The work of the Select Committee will serve as a reminder that we as a nation forget that at our own peril.