Author archives

Claire Leavitt - I am an assistant professor of government at Smith College in Northampton, MA. I received my PhD in Government from Cornell University in 2021. My research interests include legislative institutions; Congressional oversight and investigations; partisan polarization and gridlock in federal and state legislatures; political networks (among legislators, legislative staff and interest groups); federalism; and the role of gender in legislative behavior. I’m also interested in the influence of congressional and federal agency staff on member/executive preferences. I spent the 2019 calendar year in Washington, D.C. working for the majority staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform as the Project on Government Oversight’s (POGO) 2019 Congressional Oversight Fellow. I am a native of Brooklyn, NY and received a B.A. in History from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI and an M.A. in Political Science from Boston University in Boston, MA. I love reading and writing fiction, animals of all kinds (including and especially my dog, Winston), and musical theater.

Jan. 6 committee tackled unprecedented attack with time-tested inquiry

Claire Leavitt, Assistant Professor of Government, Smith College, presents an overview of the broad investigative powers of the Congress from the 1920s to the present. The latest investigation may be its most consequential to date. After 18 months, more than 1,200 interviews and 10 public hearings that presented 70 witnesses’ testimony, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack released its 845-page final report late on Dec. 22, 2022. The report recommended that the Department of Justice prosecute former President Donald Trump on four criminal charges, including conspiracy and incitement of insurrection. The committee’s recommendation to prosecute a former president was unprecedented. But its investigation of the events of Jan. 6, 2021 fell squarely within Congress’ power, and added a new chapter to a centuries-long history of congressional investigations into government scandals and failures.

Subjects: Congress, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Election Law, Government Resources, Legal Research