2021 United States Capitol attack


On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., was stormed during a riot and violent attack against the U.S. Congress. A mob of supporters of President Donald Trump attempted to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election by disrupting the joint session of Congress assembled to count electoral votes to formalize President-elect Joe Biden's victory.[27][2] The Capitol Complex was locked down and lawmakers and staff were evacuated while rioters occupied and vandalized the building for several hours.[28] Five people died either shortly before, during, or after the event: one was shot by Capitol Police, one died of a drug overdose, and three succumbed to natural causes.[29][16] More than 140 people were injured.

2021 United States Capitol attack
Part of the 2020–21 United States election protests and attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election
Crowd outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021, shortly after the breach (top); tear gas deployed against rioters (bottom left); a gallows erected outside the building (bottom right).
DateJanuary 6, 2021; 6 months ago (2021-01-06)
12:53 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (UTC-5)
Location
38°53′23.3″N 77°00′32.6″W
Caused by
Goals
Methods
Resulted in
Casualties and criminal charges
Death(s)5 deaths (1 from gunshot, 1 from drug overdose, 3 from natural causes)[15][16]
Injuries
  • Unknown number of rioters injured, at least five rioters hospitalized[17]
  • At least 138 police officers (73 Capitol Police officers, 65 Metropolitan Police Department officers),[18] including at least 15 hospitalized[19]
DamageExtensive physical damage;[20][5][21] offices and chambers vandalized and ransacked; property stolen;[22] more than $30 million for repairs and security measures[23]
Charged500[24][25][26]

Called to action by Trump,[30] thousands of his supporters gathered in Washington, D.C., on January 5 and 6 in support of his false claim that the 2020 election had been "stolen by emboldened radical-left Democrats",[31][32][33][34] and to demand that Vice President Mike Pence and Congress reject Biden's victory.[35] Starting at noon on January 6,[36] at a "Save America" rally on the Ellipse, Trump repeated false claims of election irregularities[37] and said, "If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."[38][39][40] During and after his speech,[36] thousands of attendees walked to the Capitol, and hundreds breached police perimeters,[41][42] as Congress was beginning the electoral vote count. Many in the crowd broke into the building,[43][44] occupying, vandalizing, and looting it[28] for several hours.[45] They assaulted Capitol Police officers and reporters, erected a mock gallows on the Capitol grounds, and attempted to locate lawmakers to capture and harm.[46] Some rioters chanted "Hang Mike Pence", after Pence's rejection of false claims by Trump and others that the vice president could overturn the election results.[47] Some vandalized and looted the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–CA),[48][49] as well as those of other members of Congress.[50]

With building security breached, Capitol Police evacuated the Senate and House of Representatives chambers. Several buildings in the Capitol Complex were evacuated, and all were locked down.[51] Rioters occupied and ransacked the empty Senate chamber while federal law enforcement officers drew handguns to defend the evacuated House floor.[52][53] Pipe bombs were found at the offices of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee, and Molotov cocktails were discovered in a vehicle near the Capitol.[54][55] Trump resisted sending the D.C. National Guard to quell the mob.[56]

Numerous public figures called unsuccessfully for Trump to intervene, until shortly after President-elect Joe Biden at 4:06 p.m. implored Trump to call off his supporters.[57] At 4:17 p.m. in a Twitter video, Trump reasserted that the election was "fraudulent", but told his supporters to "go home in peace".[58][59] The Capitol was cleared of rioters by mid-evening,[60] and the counting of the electoral votes resumed and was completed in the early morning hours of January 7. Pence declared President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris victors, and affirmed that they would assume office on January 20. Pressured by his administration, the threat of removal, and numerous resignations, Trump later committed to an orderly transition of power in a televised statement.[61][62]

The assault on the Capitol generated substantial global attention and was widely condemned by political leaders and organizations both in the United States and internationally. Mitch McConnell (R–KY), then the Senate Majority Leader, called it a "failed insurrection"[63] and said the Senate "will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation".[64] Several social media and technology companies suspended or banned Trump's accounts from their platforms.[65][66]

A week after the riot, the House of Representatives impeached Trump for incitement of insurrection, making him the only U.S. president to have been impeached twice.[67] The House passed a bill to create a bipartisan independent commission modeled after the 9/11 Commission to investigate the attack,[68] but it was blocked by Republicans in the Senate.[46] Pelosi then proposed, and the House approved, a House select committee to investigate the attack.[69] Christopher Wray, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), later characterized the incident as domestic terrorism.[70][71] Opinion polls showed that a large majority of Americans disapproved of the storming of the Capitol and of Trump's actions leading up to and following it, although many Republicans supported the attack or at least did not blame Trump for it.[72]

As part of investigations into the attack, the FBI opened more than 400 case files, and more than 500 subpoenas and search warrants have been issued.[73] More than 500 people have been charged with federal crimes.[24][25][26] Dozens of people present in Washington, D.C., on the day, including some who took part in the riot, were later found to be listed in the FBI's Terrorist Screening Database, most as suspected white supremacists.[74] Members of anti-government groups, including the paramilitary Oath Keepers, neo-fascist Proud Boys, and far-right militia Three Percenters, were charged with conspiracy for allegedly staging planned missions at the Capitol,[9][75][76][77][78] though prosecutors acknowledged that by March they had not yet developed a clear narrative of the groups' intentions.[79]

Background


Attempt to overturn the presidential election

President Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in 2020

In the 2020 United States presidential election, Democrat Joe Biden defeated incumbent Republican Donald Trump.[80][81][82][83] Trump and other Republicans attempted to overturn the election, falsely claiming that there was widespread voter fraud.[84]

Trump waged a 77-day campaign to subvert the election, first through legal challenges and then (once those failed) through an extralegal effort.[34] Although Trump's lawyers concluded within ten days after the election that legal challenges to the election results had no factual basis or legal merit,[34] Trump sought to overturn the results by filing at least sixty lawsuits, including two brought to the Supreme Court, that sought to nullify election certifications and void votes cast for Biden; these challenges were all rejected by the courts for lack of evidence or standing.[84] Trump then mounted a campaign to pressure Republican governors, secretaries of state, and state legislatures to nullify results, by replacing slates of Biden electors with those declared to Trump, or manufacturing evidence of fraud; and he demanded that lawmakers investigate supposed election "irregularities", such as by conducting signature matches of mail-in ballots (regardless of efforts already undertaken). Trump also personally inquired about invoking martial law to "re-run" or reverse the election[84][85] and appointing a special counsel to find incidences of fraud (even though federal and state officials had concluded that such cases were very isolated or non-existent); Trump ultimately undertook neither step.[84] Trump repeatedly urged Vice President Mike Pence to change the results and stop Biden from being inaugurated, which was not within Pence's constitutional powers as vice president and president of the Senate; Trump repeated this call in his rally speech on the morning of January 6.[86]

These attempts to overturn the election have been characterized by some as an attempted coup d'état[87] and an implementation of the "big lie".[8]

Planning of January 6 events

Congress was scheduled to meet jointly on January 6 to certify the winner of the Electoral College vote, typically a ceremonial affair.[88][89]

On December 18, four days after the Electoral College voted, Trump called for supporters to attend a rally before the January 6 Congressional vote count, to continue his challenge to the validity of several states' election results. Trump tweeted, "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"[90][10][91] The "March to Save America" and rally that preceded the riots at the Capitol were initially organized by Women for America First, a 501(c)(4) organization chaired by Amy Kremer, co-founder of Women for Trump.[92] On January 1, 2021, they obtained a permit with an estimated attendance of 5,000 for a first amendment rally "March for Trump".[93] In late 2020 and early 2021, Kremer organized and spoke at a series of events across the country as part of a bus tour to encourage attendance at the January 6 rally and support Trump's efforts to overturn the election result.[94] Women for America First invited its supporters to join a caravan of vehicles traveling to the event.[92] Event management was carried out by Event Strategies, a company founded by Tim Unes, who worked for Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.[92]

On January 2, Trump retweeted a post by Kremer promoting the January 6 rally, adding that he would be there. From that point, although Kremer still held the permit, planning essentially passed to the White House.[94] Trump discussed the speaking lineup and the music to be played at the event. Although the initial plan for the rally called for people to remain at the Ellipse until the counting of electoral slates was complete, the White House said they should march to the Capitol, as Trump repeatedly urged during his speech.[34]

Ali Alexander, a right-wing political activist who took part in organizing the rally and expressed support for the storming as "completely peaceful", was reported as saying in December that Representatives Paul Gosar (RAZ), Andy Biggs (R–AZ) and Mo Brooks (R–AL) were involved in the planning of "something big".[95] "We're the four guys who came up with a January 6 event", he said.[96] According to Alexander, "It was to build momentum and pressure and then on the day change hearts and minds of Congress peoples who weren't yet decided or who saw everyone outside and said, 'I can't be on the other side of that mob.'" His remarks received more scrutiny after the events of January 6, causing Biggs to respond with a statement denying any relationship with Alexander.[97][98][99] The Washington Post wrote that videos and posts revealed earlier connections between Alexander and the three members of congress.[100]

The rioters openly planned to disrupt the counting of Electoral College ballots for several weeks prior to the event, and called for violence against Congress, Pence, and police.[101] Plans were coordinated on "alt-tech" platforms distinct from larger social media platforms such as Reddit or Twitter, which had implemented bans to censor violent language and images. Websites such as TheDonald.win (a successor to the Reddit forum r/The_Donald), social networking service Parler, chat app Telegram, Gab, and others, were used to discuss previous Trump rallies and made plans for storming the Capitol.[102][103] There were also calls for violence mentioning January 6 on mainstream social media platforms, such as Twitter and TikTok, although the majority of posts on these platforms did not explicitly call for violence.[102]

Many of the posters planned for violence before the event; some discussed how to avoid police on the streets, which tools to bring to help pry open doors, and how to smuggle weapons into the city.[103] They discussed their perceived need to attack police.[102][104][105] Following clashes with Washington, D.C. police during protests on December 12, 2020, the Proud Boys and other far-right groups turned against supporting law enforcement.[106][107][108] At least one group, Stop the Steal, posted on December 23, 2020, its plans to occupy the Capitol with promises to "escalate" if opposed by police.[109] Multiple sites graphically and explicitly discussed "war", physically taking charge at the event, and killing politicians, even soliciting opinions about which politician should be hung first, with a GIF of a noose.[102]

One comment−cited in the FBI memo−advocated for Trump supporters going to Washington and getting "violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there, ready for war. We get our President or we die. ... It is our duty as Americans to fight, kill and die for our rights."[110] On December 26, a leader of the Oath Keepers allegedly messaged instructions to "wait for the 6th when we are all in D.C. to insurrection".[111] According to prosecutors, that leader also authored a message in December reporting "I organized an alliance between Oath Keepers, Florida 3%ers, and Proud Boys".[111]

On January 5, the Norfolk field office of the FBI reported plans of violence: "An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa [sic] slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal." The Norfolk report noted that planners shared a map of the tunnels underneath the Capitol."[112]

NBC News reported in June 2021 that the FBI had been asking at least one person charged with involvement in the attack about his possible connections to members of Congress.[113]

Funding

Organizations that participated in the event include: Black Conservatives Fund, Eighty Percent Coalition, Moms For America, Peaceably Gather, Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, Rule of Law Defense Fund, Stop The Steal, Turning Point Action, Tea Party Patriots, Women For America First, and Wildprotest.com.[114][115] Rule of Law Defense Fund, which is a 501(c)(4) arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association, also paid for robocalls to invite people to "march to the Capitol building and call on congress to stop the steal".[116] Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones's media company paid $500,000 to book the Ellipse for the event,[117][118] of which $300,000 was donated by Publix heiress and prominent Trump donor Julie Jenkins Fancelli.[118] Jones claimed that the Trump White House asked him to lead the march to the Capitol.[117]

Charlie Kirk tweeted that Turning Point Action and Students for Trump had sent more than eighty buses to the Capitol.[119] Roger Stone recorded a video for Stop The Steal Security Project to raise funds "for the staging, the transportation and most importantly the security" of the event.[120] Other people attempted to raise funds in December via GoFundMe to help pay for transportation to the rally, with limited success.[1] An investigation by BuzzFeed News identified more than a dozen fundraisers to pay for travel to the planned rally. GoFundMe subsequently deactivated several of the campaigns after the riot, but some campaigns had already raised part or all of their fundraising goals prior to deactivation.[121]

January 5 meeting

On the evening of January 5, Trump's closest allies held a meeting in the private residence of the President at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.[122][123] Attendees included Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Michael Flynn, Corey Lewandowski, and Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville has since stated that he did not attend the meeting,[124] but evidence appears to show otherwise.[122][125]

According to Charles Herbster, who said he attended the meeting, other attendees included Adam Piper and Peter Navarro. Daniel Beck wrote that "Fifteen of us spent the evening with Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle, Tommy Tuberville, Michael J. Lindell, Peter Navarro, and Rudy Giuliani."[126] Herbster also claimed to be standing "in the private residence of the President at Trump International with the following patriots who are joining me in a battle for justice and truth". He added David Bossie to the list of attendees.[122]

After January 6, members of the Oath Keepers anti-government paramilitary group were indicted on conspiracy charges for allegedly staging a planned mission in the Capitol.[75][127][128]

Public predictions of violence

Signs reading "Stop the Steal" and "Off with their heads"

In 2019, Kara Swisher, a columnist for The New York Times, questioned what would happen "if Mr. Trump loses the 2020 election and tweets inaccurately the next day that there had been widespread fraud and, moreover, that people should rise up in armed insurrection to keep him in office."[129][130] On December 1, a Georgia election official publicly warned, "Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone's going to get hurt. Someone's going to get shot. Someone's going to get killed."[129]

On December 21, a viral tweet predicted "On January 6, armed Trumpist militias will be rallying in D.C., at Trump's orders. It's highly likely that they'll try to storm the Capitol after it certifies Joe Biden's win."[129] On December 29, D.C.'s Hotel Harrington, a past gathering spot for Proud Boys, announced closure from January 4–6, citing public safety.[131] Harry's Pub, another Proud Boys hotspot, similarly announced a temporary closure.[131] On December 30, 2020, former Pence aide Olivia Troye publicly expressed fears "that violence could erupt in Washington, D.C., on January 6".[132]

A January 2 article by The Daily Beast reported that protesters were discussing bringing guns to the District, breaking into federal buildings, and attacking law enforcement.[129] The article quoted one popular comment "I'm thinking it will be literal war on that day. Where we'll storm offices and physically remove and even kill all the D.C. traitors and reclaim the country."[133][129]

Official predictions and warnings

In the days leading up to the attack, several organizations that monitored online extremism had been issuing warnings about the event.[134] In an internal report dated December 29, 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Minneapolis field office warned of armed protests at every state capitol, orchestrated by the far-right boogaloo movement, before Biden's inauguration.[135][136][137] Prior to January 6, 2021, the FBI notified the local Joint Terrorism Task Force of possible impending violence at the Capitol.[138] The Washington Post reported an internal FBI document on January 5 warned of rioters preparing to travel to Washington and setting up staging areas in various regional states.[139] However, the FBI decided not to distribute a formal intelligence bulletin.[138][140] Some security specialists later reported they had been surprised that they had not received information from the FBI and DHS before the event.[141]

Robert Contee, the acting Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, said after the event that his department had possessed no intelligence indicating the Capitol would be breached.[142] Capitol Police chief Steven Sund said his department had developed a plan to respond to "First Amendment activities" but had not planned for the "criminal riotous behavior" they encountered.[142] However, on January 3, three days before the Capitol attack, the Capitol Police intelligence unit had circulated an internal memo warning that Trump supporters "see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election" and could use violence against "Congress itself" on that date.[143] Sund said he directed the department to be placed on "all hands on deck" status (contrary to early reports[144]), which meant every sworn officer would be working. He also said he activated seven Civil Disturbance Unit platoons, approximately 250 officers, with four of those platoons equipped in helmets, protective clothing and shields.[145] U.S. Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy said law enforcement agencies' estimates of the potential size of the crowd, calculated in advance of the event, varied between 2,000 and 80,000.[146] On January 5, the National Park Service estimated that thirty thousand people would attend the "Save America" rally, based on people already in the area.[147]

Other organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League, British security firm G4S, and nonpartisan governance watchdog Advance Democracy, Inc., studied QAnon posts and made various warnings of the potential of violence on January 6.[134][148][149]

Law enforcement preparations

Police officers at the Capitol on the morning of January 6

On January 4, DC Mayor Bowser announced that the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPD) would lead law enforcement for the event, and would be coordinating with the Capitol Police, the U.S. Park Police, and the Secret Service.[150][note 1] "To be clear, the District of Columbia is not requesting other federal law enforcement personnel and discourages any additional deployment without immediate notification to, and consultation with, MPD if such plans are underway", Bowser wrote in a letter to the Department of Justice.[150] On January 5, USCP Chief Sund hosted a meeting with a dozen of the top law enforcement and military officials from D.C., including the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, MPD, and the National Guard.[151] According to Sund, "during the meeting, no entity, including the FBI, provided any intelligence indicating that there would be a coordinated violent attack on the United States Capitol by thousands of well-equipped armed insurrectionists."[151]

Days after the 2020 election, on November 9, Donald Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, replacing him with Christopher C. Miller.[152] On December 31, 2020, Mayor Muriel Bowser requested District of Columbia National Guard troops be deployed to support D.C. police during the anticipated demonstrations. In her request, she wrote that the guards would not be armed and that they would be primarily responsible for "crowd management" and traffic direction, allowing police to focus on security concerns. Miller approved the request on January 4, 2021, activating 340 troops, with no more than 114 to be deployed at any given time.[153] Three days before the riots, the Department of Defense twice offered to deploy the National Guard to the Capitol, but were told by the United States Capitol Police it would not be necessary.[154] On January 3, Sund was reportedly refused additional National Guard support by House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael C. Stenger.[155][156]

According to Miller's later statements, on January 3, Miller was ordered by Trump to "do whatever was necessary to protect the demonstrators" on January 6.[157] In a January 4 memo, Miller prohibited deploying D.C. Guard members with weapons, helmets, body armor or riot control agents without his personal approval.[158] On January 5, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy issued a memo directly placing limits on D.C. National Guard.[158] The commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, Major General William J. Walker, explained the change, saying: "All military commanders normally have immediate response authority to protect property, life, and in my case, federal functions – federal property and life. But in this instance, I did not have that authority."[158] On January 22, Miller disputed the criticism that the Pentagon had delayed deployment of the Guard, calling it "complete horseshit".[159]

Trump supporters gather in D.C.


On January 5, several events related to overturning the election took place in or around the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Cindy Chafian, who founded the Eighty Percent Coalition, organized the "Rally to Revival",[93] which was permitted to take place at Freedom Plaza including a "Rally to Save America".[160] On the same day, the "Save the Republic Rally" was organized by Moms for America in the early afternoon at Area 9 across from the Russell Senate Office Building;[161] and the "One Nation Under God" rally, which was organized by Virginia Women for Trump, Stop the Steal, American Phoenix Project, and Jericho March, took place near the United States Supreme Court.[162]

The Silent Majority rally

A rally was organized by businessman and recently defeated Republican congressional candidate from South Carolina, James Epley. The rally was scheduled for 250 people and permitted in the North Inner Gravel Walkway between 13th and 14th Streets within the National Mall and featured a fifteen foot high replica of the US Constitution.[93][163][164] Epley's events took place on January 5 and 6. At least ten people were arrested, several on weapons charges, on the night of January 5 and into the morning of January 6.[165] On January 6, the "Wild Protest" was organized by Stop The Steal and took place in Area 8 across from the Russell Senate Office Building.[166] On the same day, the "Freedom Rally" was organized by Virginia Freedom Keepers, Latinos for Trump, and United Medical Freedom Super PAC at 300 First Street NE, across from the Russell Senate Office Building.[167]

Freedom Plaza rallies

The Freedom Plaza rallies were held at the northwest corner of 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, just west of the White House. A series of three consecutive events was planned, first a "March to Save America" rally from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., followed by a "Stop the Steal" rally from 3:30 to 5:00 and an "Eighty Percent Coalition" rally from 5:00 to 8:30.[168][169][170] A number of speakers were presented, notably including:

  1. Brandon Straka, leader of the #WalkAway social media campaign[171][172]
  2. Matt Maddock (R), MI State Representative from Milford[173]
  3. Vernon Jones (D/R), former GA State Representative[174]
  4. Alex Jones, conservative radio host and conspiracy theorist[175][176]
  5. Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor to President Trump[177][178]
  6. George Papadopoulos (R), Trump Campaign Advisor[179][180]
  7. Roger Stone, advisor to President Trump[181][177][182]

Bombs placed

External media
Images
FBI images of bomb suspect
Video
FBI compilation of bombs being placed

At 7:40 p.m. on January 5, an individual wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, a COVID-19 mask, and expensive "Nike Air Max Speed Turf" sneakers was filmed carrying a bag through a residential neighborhood on South Capitol Street.[183] At 7:52 p.m., the individual was recorded sitting on a bench outside the DNC—the next day, a pipe bomb was discovered there, placed under a bush.[183] In footage, the suspect appears to zip up a bag as they stand and walk away.[183] At 8:14, the individual was filmed in an alley near the RNC, where a second pipe bomb was found the following day.[183] Both bombs were placed within a few blocks of the Capitol.[184][185] The FBI distributed photos and video of the person who they believe planted the devices and offered an initial reward of up to $50,000 for information;[186] by the end of the month, they doubled the amount of the promised reward.[187][188]

January 6 Trump rally

Protesters at Washington Union Station on the morning of January 6

The "Save America" rally (or "March to Save America", promoted as a "Save America March")[189] took place on January 6 in the Ellipse within the National Mall just south of the White House. The permit granted to Women for America First showed their first amendment rally "March for Trump" with speeches running from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and an additional hour for the conclusion of rally and dispersal of participants.[93]

Trump supporters gathered there to hear speeches from Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and others, such as Chapman University School of Law professor John C. Eastman.[190] In a court filing in February, Jessica Watkins, a member of the Oath Keepers, claimed she had acted as "security" at the rally. Watkins further claimed she was provided with a "VIP pass to the rally where she met with Secret Service agents".[191] The U.S. Secret Service denied that any private citizens had coordinated with it to provide security on January 6.[191] On February 22, Watkins changed her story and said she interacted with the Secret Service only as she passed through the security check before the rally.[192]

Mo Brooks (R-AL) was a featured speaker at the rally and spoke around 9AM where he said, "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass." And later, "Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? Louder! Will you fight for America?"[193][194]

Representative Madison Cawthorn (R–NC) said, "This crowd has some fight."[195] Amy Kremer told attendees "it is up to you and I to save this Republic" and called on them to "keep up the fight".[94] Trump's sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, along with Eric's wife Lara Trump, also spoke, naming and verbally attacking Republican congressmen and senators who were not supporting the effort to challenge the Electoral College vote, and promising to campaign against them in future primary elections.[196] Donald Jr. saying of Republican lawmakers, "If you're gonna be the zero and not the hero, we're coming for you."[197][198]

Rudy Giuliani repeated conspiracy theories that voting machines used in the election were "crooked" and at 10:50 called for "trial by combat".[199][200] At 10:58, a Proud Boys contingent left the rally, and marched toward the Capitol Building.[36]

Eastman asserted that balloting machines contained "secret folders" that altered voting results.[201] A week later he retired.[202]

Donald Trump's speech
An image of Trump delivering his rally speech from behind a bulletproof shield was projected onto this screen at the rally

Starting at 11:58, from behind a bulletproof shield Trump gave a speech, declaring he would "never concede" the election, criticizing the media and calling for Pence to overturn the election results, something outside Pence's constitutional power.[86][203] His speech contained many falsehoods and misrepresentations that inflamed the crowd.[204] Trump did not overtly call on his supporters to use violence or enter the Capitol,[205] but his speech was filled with violent imagery,[206] and Trump suggested that his supporters had the power to prevent Biden from taking office.[205] The same afternoon, Pence released a letter to Congress in which he said he could not challenge Biden's victory.[86][207]

Trump called for his supporters to "walk down to the Capitol" to "cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them". He told the crowd he would be with them (which he did not do). As to counting Biden's electoral votes, Trump said, "We can't let that happen" and suggested Biden would be an "illegitimate president".[205][206] Referring to the day of the elections, Trump said, "most people would stand there at 9:00 in the evening and say, 'I want to thank you very much,' and they go off to some other life, but I said, 'Something's wrong here. Something's really wrong. [It] can't have happened.' And we fight. We fight like Hell and if you don't fight like Hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."[39]:01:11:44 He said the protesters would be "going to the Capitol and we're going to try and give [Republicans] the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country".[208] Trump also said, "you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated."[205][206]

A Trump supporter directing attendees of the "Save America" rally to the Capitol

He denounced Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), saying that "We've got to get rid of the weak Congresspeople, the ones that aren't any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world."[209] He called upon his supporters to "fight much harder" against "bad people";[206] told the crowd that "you are allowed to go by very different rules";[206] said that his supporters were "not going to take it any longer";[205] framed the moment as a last stand,[205] suggested that Pence and other Republican officials put themselves in danger by accepting Biden's victory;[206] and told the crowd he would march with them to the Capitol (although he did not do so).[206][205] In addition to the twenty times he used the term "fight", Trump once used the term "peacefully", saying, "I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard."[206]

During Trump's speech, his supporters chanted "Take the Capitol", "Taking the Capitol right now", "Invade the Capitol", "Storm the Capitol" and "Fight for Trump".[210][211] The New York Times places the fall of the first barriers at 1:03 p.m.[212] Before Trump had finished speaking at 1:12 p.m., an estimated eight thousand supporters had already begun moving up the National Mall, with some shouting that they were storming the Capitol.[42] As soon as he completed his speech, Trump returned to the White House.

Attack on the Capitol


During his January 6 speech, Trump called upon supporters to walk to the Capitol. Just before the attack, pipe bombs were discovered near the Capitol.[213] Attackers besieged and ultimately breached the Capitol. Members of the Congress barricaded themselves in the chamber, and one attacker was fatally shot by police while attempting to breach a barricade.

After officials at the Pentagon delayed deployment of the National Guard citing concerns about optics, D.C. Mayor Bowser requested assistance from the Governor of Virginia.[214] By 3:15, Virginia state assets begin arriving in D.C.[214] After Vice President Pence and the Congress were evacuated to secure locations, law enforcement cleared and secured the Capitol.

March to the Capitol

Proud Boys in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building

On January 6, the "Save America" rally of Trump supporters filled The Ellipse, which is just south of the White House grounds and about 1.6 miles (2.6 km) from the Capitol.[215] Signs around the stage carried the slogan "Save America March". Speeches began at 9:00. While they continued, a Proud Boys contingent left the rally at 10:58 to march toward the Capitol Building. As they set off, Ethan Nordean used a megaphone to issue instructions, and said: "if you're not a Proud Boy, please get out of the way." Another leader, Joe Biggs, used a walkie-talkie for communications.[36]

President Trump arrived and began speaking about noon. At various points during his speech, he encouraged the crowd to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol. Before he had finished speaking, members of the crowd began walking toward the Capitol "in a steady stream".[215] Around 12:30 a "fairly calm" crowd of about 300 built up east of the Capitol. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), a leader of the group of lawmakers who vowed to challenge the Electoral College vote, greeted these protesters with a raised fist as he passed by on his way to the joint session of Congress in the early afternoon.[216][217]

Bombs discovered near Capitol Complex

FBI Wanted Poster offering $100,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual who placed two pipe bombs [218]

Around 12:45 p.m., a bomb was discovered next to a building containing Republican National Committee (RNC) offices by a woman using the shared alleyway to access her apartment building's laundry room.[219] She alerted RNC security, which investigated and summoned law enforcement; Police arrived "almost immediately".[220] U.S. Capitol Police, FBI agents and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) all responded to the RNC bomb.[220]

About thirty minutes later, while officers were still responding at the RNC, they were informed a second pipe bomb had been discovered under a bush at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters.[221][222] The devices were of a similar design – about one foot in length, with end caps and wiring apparently attached to a 60-minute kitchen timer, and containing an unknown powder and some metal.[222][223] No evidence of a remote detonation method, such as via cell phone, was discovered. They were safely detonated by bomb squads; police later said they were "hazardous" and could have caused "great harm".[221]

Sund told The Washington Post on January 10 that he suspected the pipe bombs were intentionally placed to draw police away from the Capitol;[224] Representative Tim Ryan (D–OH) echoed the sentiment in a virtual news conference on January 11, saying "we do believe there was some level of coordination ... because of the pipe bombs ... that immediately drew attention away from the breach that was happening."[225][226] The Inspector General of the Capitol Police later concluded "If those pipe bombs were intended to be diversion... it worked".[227]

Siege

Bodycam video taken at US Capitol, January 6, 2021

The Proud Boys contingent reached the west perimeter of the Capitol grounds, which was protected by temporary fences in front of a sparse line of police, and other Trump supporters arrived, forming a growing crowd. At 12:51, a man (later identified as Ryan Samsel, with no known Proud Boys affiliation) spoke to Biggs. The crowd, headed by Samsel, rushed the fences and clashed with the police. At 12:53, rioters, including Proud Boys, broke through the barriers and onto the Capitol grounds for the first time. The police struggled to contain them. Meanwhile, at The Ellipse, Oath Keepers wearing black hoodies with prominent logos left the rally at 12:52 and changed into Army Combat Uniforms, with helmets, on their way to the Capitol.[36]

Around 1:00 p.m., hundreds of Trump supporters clashed with officers and pushed through barriers along the perimeter of the Capitol.[44][228] The crowd swept past barriers and officers, with some members of the mob spraying officers with chemical agents or hitting them with lead pipes.[2][5][229] Many rioters walked up the external stairways, some resorted to ropes and makeshift ladders.[230] To gain access, several scaled the west wall.[231] Representative Zoe Lofgren (D–CA), aware that rioters had reached the Capitol steps, was unable to reach Steven Sund by phone; House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving told Lofgren the doors to the Capitol were locked and "nobody can get in".[232]

Telephone logs released by USCP show that Sund had been coordinating additional resources from various agencies. Sund's first call was to the D.C. Metropolitan Police, who arrived within 15 minutes.[233] Sund called Irving and Stenger at 12:58, and asked them for an emergency declaration required to call in the National Guard; they both told Sund they would "run it up the chain". More than an hour later, Irving called back with formal approval.[234]

When Trump had finished his speech, around 1:12, he returned to the White House.[215]

A reliable estimate of the total size of the crowd cannot be ascertained, as aerial photos are not permitted in Washington, D.C., for reasons of security, but the crowd was estimated to be in the thousands.[32]

At 1:50 p.m., the on-scene MPD incident commander declared a riot.[233] At 1:58, Capitol Police officers removed a barricade on the northeast side of the Capitol.[235]

Capitol breach

Trump supporters crowding the steps of the Capitol

Just before 2:00 p.m. numerous rioters reached the doors and windows of the Capitol and began attempts to break in. Around 2:11 they used a piece of lumber to break through a window, and a minute later began climbing through it into the building.[236] Proud Boys member Dominic Pezzola, who had seized a Capitol Police plastic shield, used it to smash through another window at 2:12 and entered, followed by more rioters.[36] The mob streamed into the National Statuary Hall.[5][237][238][239]

As rioters began to invade the Capitol and other nearby buildings, some buildings in the complex were evacuated.[53] Outside the building, the mob constructed a mock gallows and tied a noose to it,[46] punctured the tires of a police vehicle, and left a note saying "PELOSI IS SATAN" on the windshield.[5] Politico reported some rioters briefly showing their police badges or military identification to law enforcement as they approached the Capitol, expecting, therefore, to be let inside; a Capitol Police officer told BuzzFeed News that one rioter had told him "[w]e're doing this for you" as he flashed a badge.[142]

Officer Daniel Hodges crushed in doorway

Concerned about the approaching mob, Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) called Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who was not on Capitol grounds but at the police department's headquarters. When asked what the Capitol Police were doing to stop the rioters, Sund told Waters, "We're doing the best we can" before the line went dead.[232] Although Sund's phone logs released by USCP show no such call taking place.[citation needed]

Federal officials estimate that about ten thousand rioters entered the Capitol grounds,[240] and more than 800 breached the building.[240][241]

More than 800 video and audio files – including D.C. Metropolitan Police radio transmissions, Capitol Policy body-worn camera footage, and Capitol surveillance camera footage – were later obtained as evidence in Trump's impeachment trial.[242] The evidence showed that the assailants launched a large and coordinated attack; for example, "Security camera footage near the House chamber shows the rioters waving in reinforcements to come around the corner. Another video shows more than 150 rioters charging through a breached entrance in just a minute-and-a-half."[242] While assaulting the Capitol, the crowd chanted "Fight, Fight"; "Stop the steal"; and "Fight for Trump".[243] As they were overrun by a violent mob, the police acted with restraint and pleaded for backup.[242] Many of the attackers employed tactics, body armor and technology (such as two-way radio headsets) similar to those of the very police they were confronting.[244] Some rioters wore riot gear, including helmets and military-style vests. A pair of rioters carried plastic handcuffs, which they found on a table inside the Capitol.[245][246]

Some of the rioters carried American flags, Confederate battle flags,[5][247][248][249] or Nazi emblems.[250][251][252] For the first time in U.S. history, a Confederate battle flag was displayed inside the Capitol.[253][254][247][255] Christian imagery and rhetoric was prevalent. Rioters carried crosses and signs saying, "Jesus Saves", and "Jesus 2020". On the National Mall, rioters chanted, "Christ is king". One rioter carried a Christian flag. Rioters referred to the neo-fascist Proud Boys as "God's warriors".[256][257] These were mainly neo-charismatic, prophetic Christians who believed that Trump was prophesied to remain in power and anointed by God to save Christian Americans from religious persecution.[258]

Although a few evangelical leaders supported the riots,[256] most condemned the violence and criticized Trump for inciting the crowd.[259] This criticism came from liberal Christian groups such as the Red-Letter Christians as well as evangelical groups who were generally supportive of Trump.[260][256] This criticism did not affect evangelical support for Donald Trump. Investigative journalist Sarah Posner, author of Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump, argues that many white evangelical Christians in the U.S. create an echo chamber whereby Trump's missteps are blamed on the Democratic Party, leftists, or the mainstream media, the last of which being viewed as especially untrustworthy.[261]

Senate adjourned

C-SPAN broadcast of the Senate going into recess after protesters infiltrate the Capitol
Congressional staffers removed the Electoral College certificates from the Senate floor as it was evacuated.

At the time, the joint session of Congress – which had already voted to accept the nine electoral votes from Alabama and three from Alaska without objection – was split so that each chamber could separately consider an objection to accepting Arizona's electoral votes that had been raised by Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and endorsed by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Both chambers were roughly halfway through their two-hour debate on the motion.[262][263]

While debate over the Arizona electoral college votes continued, an armed police officer entered the Senate chamber, positioned facing the back entrance of the chamber. Pence handed the floor from Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to Senator James Lankford (R-OK). Moments later, Pence was escorted out by members of the Secret Service. The rioters began to climb the stairs toward the Senate chamber. A lone Capitol Police officer, Eugene Goodman, worked to slow the mob down as he radioed that they had reached the second floor. Just steps from the still-unsealed Senate chamber doors, the rioters instead followed the Capitol Police officer, leading them back away from the Senate. Banging could be heard from outside as people attempted to breach the doors. As Lankford was speaking, the Senate was gaveled into recess, and the doors were locked at 2:15. A minute later, the rioters reached the gallery outside the chamber.[232][264] A police officer carrying a semi-automatic weapon appeared on the floor and stood between then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and then Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).[265] Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) exasperatedly threw up his hands and directly criticized several fellow Republicans who were challenging President-elect Biden's electoral votes, yelling to them, "This is what you've gotten, guys."[266] Several members of Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough's staff carried the boxes of Electoral College votes and documentation out of the chamber to hidden safe rooms within the building.[267][268]

Due to security threat inside: immediately, move inside your office, take emergency equipment, lock the doors, take shelter.

—Capitol Police alert[232]

Trump had made repeated false claims that the vice president had "unilateral authority" to reject electoral college votes and had pressured Pence to overturn the election results, but that morning Pence told Trump he refused to do so, after taking legal advice confirming that there was no such constitutional authority. At 2:24, Trump tweeted that Pence "didn't have the courage to do what should have been done".[47][269] Afterwards, Trump followers on far-right social media called for Pence to be hunted down, and the mob began chanting, "Where is Pence?" and "Find Mike Pence!"[270][271][272] Outside, the mob chanted, "Hang Mike Pence!",[269] which some crowds continued to chant as they stormed the Capitol;[269] at least three rioters were overheard by a reporter saying they wanted to find Pence and execute him as a "traitor" by hanging him from a tree outside the building.[273] All buildings in the complex were subsequently locked down, with no entry or exit from the buildings allowed. Capitol staff were asked to move into offices and lock their doors and windows; those outside were advised to "seek cover".[51]

As the mob roamed the Capitol, lawmakers, aides, and staff took shelter in offices and closets. Aides to Mitch McConnell, barricaded in a room just off a hallway, heard a rioter outside the door "praying loudly", asking for "the evil of Congress [to] be brought to an end".[232] The rioters entered and ransacked the office of the Senate Parliamentarian.[274]

With senators still in the chamber, Trump reached Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) by phone and told him to do more to block the counting of Biden's electoral votes. The call had to be cut off when the Senate chamber was evacuated at 2:30.[275][276][277][278] After evacuation, the mob briefly took control of the chamber, with some armed and armored men carrying plastic handcuffs and some posing with raised fists on the Senate dais that Pence had left minutes earlier.[5][279] Pence's wife Karen Pence, daughter Charlotte Pence Bond, and brother Greg Pence (a member of the House; R–IN) were in the Capitol at the time it was attacked.[280] As Pence and his family were being escorted from the Senate chamber to a nearby hideaway, they came within a minute of being visible to rioters on a staircase only 100 feet (30 m) away.[236] It was reportedly intended for Pence to be evacuated from the Capitol Complex entirely, but he refused to do so, saying that seeing his "20-car motorcade fleeing ... would only vindicate their insurrection."[281]

Staff and reporters inside the building were taken by secure elevators to the basement and then to an underground bunker constructed following the 2001 attempted attack on the Capitol. Evacuees were redirected while en route after the bunker was also infiltrated by the mob.[277]

Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate Michael C. Stenger accompanied a group of senators including Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) to a secure location in a Senate office building. Once safe, the lawmakers were "furious" with Stenger; Graham asked him, "How does this happen? How does this happen?" and added that they "[are] not going to be run out by a mob".[232]

House recessed

Meanwhile, in the House chamber around 2:15 while Gosar was speaking, Speaker Pelosi was escorted out of the chamber. The House was gaveled into recess, but would resume a few minutes later.[282][283] Amid the security concerns, Representative Dean Phillips (D–MN) yelled, "This is because of you!" at his Republican colleagues.[284] The House resumed debate around 2:25. About 2:30, when Gosar finished speaking, the House went into recess again. The rioters had entered the House wing and were attempting to enter the Speaker's Lobby just outside the House chamber. Lawmakers were still inside and being evacuated, with Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy and a few others taken to a secure location.[285][286] With violence breaking out, Capitol security advised the members of Congress to take cover.[287][288] Members of Congress inside the House chamber were told to put on gas masks, as law enforcement had begun using tear gas within the building.[282][289][288][290][291]

Video shot inside the House of Representatives chamber showing armed security blocking the doors

ABC News reported that shots were fired within the Capitol.[289][292] An armed standoff took place at the front door of the chamber of the House of Representatives: as the mob attempted to break in, federal law enforcement officers drew their guns inside [5] and pointed them toward the chamber doors, which were barricaded with furniture.[293] In a stairway, one officer fired a shot at a man coming toward him.[294] Photographer Erin Schaff said that, from the Capitol Rotunda, she ran upstairs, where rioters grabbed her press badge. Police found her, and, as her press pass had been stolen, they held her at gunpoint before her colleagues intervened.[266]

The chief of staff for Representative Ayanna Pressley (D–MA) claimed that when the congresswoman and staff barricaded themselves in her office and attempted to call for help with duress buttons that they had previously used during safety drills, "[e]very panic button in my office had been torn out – the whole unit."[295] Subsequently, a House Administration Committee emailed Greg Sargent of The Washington Post claiming the missing buttons were likely due to a "clerical screw-up" resulting from Pressley's swapping offices.[296] Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) tweeted that there were no duress buttons in his office, but acknowledged he was only three days into his term and they were installed a week later.[297]

Multiple rioters, using the cameras on their cell phones, documented themselves occupying the Capitol and the offices of various representatives,[298][299][300] vandalizing the offices of Speaker Pelosi,[301][302] accessing secure computers and stealing a laptop.[303]

Participating groups

Among the many flags flown by participants were the Gadsden flag, American flag, and Women for Trump

The attackers included some of Trump's longtime and most fervent supporters, coming from across the United States.[304] The mob included Republican Party officials, former State Legislators and political donors, far-right militants, white supremacists,[304] conservative evangelical Christians and participants of the "Save America" Rally.[305] Some came heavily armed and some were convicted criminals, including a man who had been released from a Florida prison after serving a sentence for attempted murder.[304] Although the anti-government Boogaloo movement mostly were opposing Donald Trump, a Boogaloo follower said several groups under his command helped storm the Capitol, taking the opportunity to strike against the federal government.[306] Supporters of the Three Percenters, the Black Hebrew Israelites, the America First Movement, the Stop the Steal movement, the Patriot Movement, Blue Lives Matter, the Proud Boys, Tea Party movement, the Oath Keepers, Traditionalist Worker Party, QAnon, the Groyper Army, and national-anarchism, as well as neo-Confederates, Christian Nationalists and Holocaust deniers, among other far-right organizations and groups, were present during the riot, with some wearing emblematic gear. Neo-Nazi and Völkisch-inspired neopagan apparel was also worn by some participants during the riots, including a shirt emblazoned with references to the Auschwitz–Birkenau concentration camp and its motto, Arbeit macht frei (German for "work makes you free").[307]

Christian imagery, including a large "Jesus saves" banner, was seen in the crowd of demonstrators. Before the demonstrators entered the building, activist Jake Angeli called out for them to pause and join him in prayer, saying, "Thank you for allowing the United States to be reborn. We love you and we thank you. In Christ's holy name, we pray." During the prayer, many of those present removed their hats and shouted "amen" when he finished.[305]

Witnesses also reported seeing the national flags of India, Israel, Vietnam, Georgia, South Korea, Canada, the United States, Australia and Iran, as well as the flag of the fictional country of "Kekistan", modified Gay Pride flags, and others.[308]

After the storming of the Capitol, two white nationalists known for racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric streamed to their online followers a video posted on social media showing a man harassing an Israeli journalist seeking to conduct a live report outside the building.[309] Some participants wore shirts bearing the abbreviation 6MWE, standing for "6 Million Wasn't Enough", a reference to the number of Jewish people who were killed in the Holocaust.[310] According to the FBI, the majority of participants in the riot who appeared on its terrorist watchlist "are suspected white supremacists".[311] Following the event, members of the Nationalist Social Club, a neo-Nazi street gang, detailed their participation in the storming and claimed the acts were the "beginning of the start of White Revolution in the United States".[312]

A row of flags lining the Capitol grounds

An academic analysis reported in The Atlantic found that of the 193 people so far arrested for invading the Capitol, 89 percent had no clear public connection to established far-right militias, known white-nationalist gangs, or any other known militant organizations. "The overwhelming reason for action, cited again and again in court documents, was that arrestees were following Trump's orders to keep Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the presidential-election winner." They were older than participants in previous far-right violent demonstrations and more likely to be employed, with 40% being business owners. The researchers concluded that these "middle-aged, middle-class insurrectionists" represented "a new force in American politics – not merely a mix of right-wing organizations, but a broader mass political movement that has violence at its core and draws strength even from places where Trump supporters are in the minority".[313]

The Associated Press reviewed public and online records of more than 120 participants after the storming and found that many of them shared conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election on social media and had also believed other QAnon and "deep state" conspiracy theories. Additionally, several had threatened Democratic and Republican politicians before the storming.[304] The event was described as "Extremely Online", with "pro-Trump internet personalities" and fans streaming live footage while taking selfies.[314][315]

Rioters outside the Capitol shortly after Congress was evacuated

Some military personnel participated in the riot;[304] the Department of Defense is investigating members on active and reserve duty who may have been involved in the riot.[316][317] An analysis by National Public Radio showed that nearly 20% of defendants charged in relation to the attack served in the military; in the general population, 7% of all American adults are veterans.[318] Police officers and a police chief from departments in multiple states are under investigation for their alleged involvement in the riot.[319] As of January 25, at least 39 law enforcement officers are suspected of participating in Trump's pre-riot rally, or joining the Capitol riots, or both.[320] Two Capitol Police officers were suspended, one for directing rioters inside the building while wearing a Make America Great Again hat, and the other for taking a selfie with a rioter.[321][322]

Court charges filed by federal prosecutors against members of the Oath Keepers militia who stormed the Capitol indicated that the militiamen were updated via Facebook messages on the location of lawmakers as they were evacuated, and relayed communications such as "We have about 30–40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan" and "All members are in the tunnels under capital [sic] seal them in. Turn on gas."[323][75][324]

Anti-vaccine activists and conspiracy theorists were also present at the rally.[325] Members of the right-wing Tea Party Patriots-backed group America's Frontline Doctors, including founder Simone Gold and communications director John Strand, were arrested.[326][327]

The effort to identify participants reportedly resulted in a case of mistaken identity: two people misidentified a woman from Homer, Alaska, as the person who stole Nancy Pelosi's laptop due to her physical similarities to a woman featured in photos of suspects released after the riot. This resulted in an FBI raid at the woman's home, during which she was briefly handcuffed, but Pelosi's laptop was not recovered.[328]

State lawmakers

At least eighteen Republican current and former state legislators were present at the event, including West Virginia State Senator Mike Azinger, Nevada State Assemblywoman Annie Black, Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase, Maryland Delegate Daniel L. Cox, Alaska State Representative David Eastman, West Virginia Delegate Derrick Evans, Colorado State Representative-elect Ron Hanks, Missouri State Representative Justin Hill, Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem, Virginia State Delegate Dave LaRock, Michigan State Representative Matt Maddock, Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano, Illinois State Representative Chris Miller,[329] Rhode Island State Representative Justin K. Price,[329] and Tennessee Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, as well as outgoing Georgia State Representative Vernon Jones (a former Democrat who announced at the rally that he had joined the Republican Party), outgoing Arizona State Representative Anthony Kern, and former Pennsylvania State Representative Rick Saccone. Weaver claimed to have been "in the thick of it" and Evans filmed himself entering the Capitol alongside rioters. All denied participating in acts of violence.[330][331][332][333]

Evans was charged by federal authorities on January 8 with entering a restricted area;[334] he resigned from the House of Delegates the next day.[335] Amanda Chase was censured by the Virginia State Senate for her actions surrounding the event;[336] in response she filed a federal lawsuit against that body.[337] In May 2021, months after the riot, crowdsourced video analysis identified Doug Mastriano and his wife passing through a breached Capitol Police barricade, contradicting his previous claims; Mastriano dismissed these accusations as the work of "angry partisans" who were "foot soldiers of the ruling elite".[338]

Former United States Representative Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48) was filmed joining a crowd that breached a Capitol Police barricade on January 6; Rohrabacher was not charged with an offense.[339]

Trump's conduct

Statement by Donald Trump during the conflict, two hours after the building had been breached

Trump was in the West Wing of the White House at the time.[340] He was "initially pleased" when his supporters breached the Capitol and refused to intercede.[341] Staffers reported that Trump had been "impossible to talk to throughout the day".[342] Concerned that Trump may have committed treason through his actions, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone reportedly advised administration officials to avoid contact with Trump and ignore any illegal orders that could further incite the attack to limit their prosecutorial liability under the Sedition Act of 1918.[343]

Shortly after 2:00 p.m. EST, as the riot was ongoing and after Senators had been evacuated from the Senate floor, Trump placed calls to Republican Senators (first Mike Lee of Utah, then Tommy Tuberville of Alabama), asking them to make more objections to the counting of the electoral votes to try to overturn the election.[276] At 2:47 p.m., as his supporters violently clashed with police at the Capitol, Trump tweeted, "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!"[344] The Washington Post later reported that Trump did not want to include the words "stay peaceful".[345] Pence was evacuated by the Secret Service from the Senate chamber around 2:13.[276][346]

By 3:10, the pressure was building on Trump to condemn supporters engaged in the riots.[344] By 3:25, Trump tweeted, "I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue", but he refused to call upon the crowd to disperse.[344] By 3:40, several congressional Republicans called upon Trump to more specifically condemn violence and to tell his supporters to end the occupation of the Capitol.[347][348]

By 3:50 p.m., White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the National Guard and "other federal protective services" had been deployed.[344] At 4:06 p.m. on national television, President-elect Biden called for President Trump to end the riot. At 4:22 p.m., Trump issued a video message on social media that Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube later took down. In it, he praised his supporters and repeated his claims of electoral fraud.[58][344] At 6:25 p.m., Trump tweeted: "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long" and then issued a call: "Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!"[344][59][349] At 7:00, Rudy Giuliani placed a second call to Lee's number and left a voicemail intended for Tuberville urging him to make more objections to the electoral votes as part of a bid "to try to just slow it down".[276]

Congressional conduct

During the riots Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) posted on Twitter some information about the police response and the location of members, including the fact that Speaker Pelosi had been taken out of the chamber, for which she has faced calls to resign for endangering members.[350][351] Boebert responded that she was not sharing private information, since Pelosi's removal was also being broadcast on TV.[297]

Representative Ayanna Pressley left the congressional safe room for fear of other members there "who incited the mob in the first place".[297]

While sheltering for hours in the "safe room" – a cramped, windowless room where people sat within arms' length of each other – some Republican Congress members refused to wear facemasks, even when their Democratic colleagues begged them to. During the following week, three Democratic members tested positive for the coronavirus. An environmental health expert described the situation as a "superspreader" event.[352]

Casualties

The deaths of five people who were present at the event have, to a varying degree, been related to it. One of the casualties, 35-year-old Ashli Elizabeth Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and Trump supporter, was fatally shot in the shoulder by a Capitol Police officer while attempting to climb through a shattered window in a barricaded door.[285][353][354] Three other Trump supporters also died: Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia, Kevin Greeson, 55, from Athens, Alabama, and Benjamin Philips, 50, of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.[355][356][357] Boyland died of an amphetamine overdose during the riot,[358] with her death being ruled accidental by the D.C. medical examiner's office.[16] Greeson and Philips' deaths were ruled as natural deaths from both coronary heart disease and hypertensive heart disease, also by the D.C. medical examiner's office.[16] The fifth death was that of Brian Sicknick, a responding Capitol Police officer. He was pepper-sprayed during the riot, and had two thromboembolic strokes the next day,[359][360] after which he was placed on life support,[7] and soon died.[361][362] The D.C. chief medical examiner found that Sicknick had died from a stroke, classifying his death as natural,[363] and additionally commenting that "all that transpired played a role in his condition."[364][365]

Both participants in the riot[note 2] and responders had been injured in the struggle. There were 138 officers (73 Capitol Police and 65 Metropolitan Police) injured,[18] of whom 15 were hospitalized, some with severe injuries.[19] All had been released from the hospital by January 11.[367]

Morale among the Capitol Police plummeted after the riots.[368] Two police officers who responded to the attack died by suicide in the following days:[369] one Capitol Police officer, Officer Howard Liebengood, three days after the attack,[370][371] and a D.C. Metro Police officer, Officer Jeffrey Smith, who had been injured in the attack, afterward.[369][372] Some members of Congress and press reports have included these deaths in the casualty count, for a total of seven deaths.[373][374][375][376][377]

Damage and theft

A damaged window in the Capitol

Rioters stormed the offices of Nancy Pelosi, flipping tables and ripping photos from walls;[301][302] the office of the Senate Parliamentarian was ransacked;[274] art was looted;[5] and feces was tracked into several hallways.[21][378] Windows were smashed throughout the building, leaving the floor littered with glass and debris.[5][379] Some items of furniture were damaged, turned over, or stolen.[379] One door had "MURDER THE MEDIA" scrawled onto it.[380] Rioters damaged Associated Press recording and broadcasting equipment outside the Capitol after chasing away reporters.[381] Rioters also destroyed a display honoring the life of congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis.[382][383] A photo of Representative Andy Kim (D–NJ) cleaning up the litter in the rotunda after midnight went viral.[384]

The rioters caused extensive physical damage.[5][21] Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton, who leads the office charged with maintaining the Capitol and preserving its art and architecture, reported in congressional testimony from late February 2021 that the combined costs of repairing the damage and post-attack security measures (such as erecting temporary perimeter fencing) already exceeded $30 million and would continue to increase.[23] Interior damage from the riot included broken glass, broken doors, and graffiti; some statues, paintings, and furniture were damaged by pepper spray, tear gas, and fire extinguishing agents deployed by rioters and police.[23][20] The historic bronze Columbus Doors were damaged.[23][385] Items, including portraits of John Quincy Adams and James Madison, as well as a marble statue of Thomas Jefferson, were covered in "corrosive gas agent residue"; these were sent to the Smithsonian for assessment and restoration.[386] A 19th-century marble bust of President Zachary Taylor was defaced with what seemed to be blood, but the most important works in the Capitol collection, such as the John Trumbull paintings, were unharmed.[379][20] On the Capitol's exterior, two 19th-century bronze light fixtures designed by Frederick Law Olmsted were damaged.[20] Because the Capitol is not insured against loss, taxpayers will pay for damage inflicted by the siege.[380] Multiple sources noted that Federal Prison Industries, as a "mandatory source" for government agencies, would receive priority when the government begins purchasing goods FPI manufactures such as office furniture to replace what was damaged in the riots.[387][388]

Technology theft and cybersecurity concerns

A laptop owned by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) was stolen.[389] A laptop taken from Speaker Pelosi's office was a "laptop from a conference room ... that was only used for presentations", according to Pelosi's deputy chief of staff.[390] Representative Ruben Gallego (D–AZ) said "we have to do a full review of what was taken, or copied, or even left behind in terms of bugs and listening devices."[142] Military news website SOFREP reported that "several" Secretlevel laptops were stolen, some of which had been abandoned while still logged in to SIPRNet, causing authorities to temporarily shut down SIPRNet for a security update on January 7 and leading the United States Army Special Operations Command to re-authorize all SIPRNet-connected computers on January 8.[391][392]

Representative Anna Eshoo (D–CA) said in a statement that "[i]mages on social media and in the press of vigilantes accessing congressional computers are worrying" and she had asked the Chief Administrative Officer of the House (CAO) "to conduct a full assessment of threats based on what transpired".[393] The CAO said it was "providing support and guidance to House offices as needed".[390]

One protester was arrested on charges of theft. She had allegedly stolen a laptop or hard drive from Pelosi's office with the intention of sending it to a friend in Russia for sale to the country's foreign intelligence service.[394]

Law enforcement and National Guard response

On January 6, under "orders from leadership", Capitol police were deployed without "less lethal" arms, such sting grenades. Department riot shields had been improperly stored, causing them to shatter upon impact.[395]

At 12:49 p.m., Capitol police responded to the two bombs near the Capitol.[396] Minutes later, rioters breached a police perimeter west of the Capitol building. By 2:12 p.m., rioters breached the Capitol building.[397]

Capitol Police Chief Sund first requested assistance from the D.C. National Guard (DCNG) at 1:49 p.m.[398][399] At 2:22 p.m.: DC officials also requested Guard in a conference call with Pentagon leaders.[398] After DoD refused to send immediate assistance, DC Mayor Bowser contacted the Public Safety Secretary of Virginia, Brian Moran, who immediately dispatched Virginia State Police to the District.[214] At 2:49 p.m., the Governor of Virginia activated all available assets including the Virginia National Guard to aid the US capitol; the authorization from DoD required for legal deployment was not granted.[214][400] By 3:10 p.m., police from Fairfax County, Virginia were dispatched to the District.[41]

At 3:15, assets from Virginia began arriving in the District.[214] At 4:17 p.m., a video was released of Trump calling for supporters to "go home".[401] By 4:24 p.m., a 12-man armed FBI tactical team had arrived at the Capitol Complex.[402]

At 5:02, about 150 soldiers of the DCNG departed the D.C. Armory; the contingent reached the Capitol complex and began support operations at 5:40. By 6:14 p.m., U.S. Capitol Police, D.C. Metropolitan Police, and DCNG successfully established a perimeter on the west side of the U.S. Capitol.[398] At 7:30 p.m., the U.S. Capitol Police declared the Capitol building to be secure.[398]

Events elsewhere


State capitols and cities

Trump supporters and police at the Texas State Capitol on January 6
A number of states experienced demonstrations and armed protests at the state capitols or in the streets on January 6, numbering in dozens or hundreds of participants. Precautionary measures, such as closures of state capitols and evacuation of members and staff, were taken in several of the states in response to the events in Washington D.C.[403][404] In some states the events were marked by incidents or particular security concerns.

Protests were again being held at state capitols in the week before inauguration.[405]

International

Internationally, Trump's allegations of a "stolen" election found a small audience among conspiracy theorists and fringe groups.[406] In Canada, there were small pro-Trump rallies on January 6 in Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver.[407] At the Vancouver rally, CBC photojournalist Ben Nelms was assaulted by one of the demonstrators.[408] In Japan, a few hundred people in Tokyo rallied in support of Trump hours before the rally in Washington, D.C.; several people carried the U.S. flag and the Rising Sun Flag, a controversial symbol in East Asia because of its association with Japanese imperialism. The gathering in Tokyo was backed by Happy Science, a new religious movement that has been described as a cult.[406] In New Zealand, a week after the riot, about 100 participants attended a "freedom rally" outside the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington. The "freedom rally" was organized by conspiracy theorist and New Zealand Public Party leader Billy Te Kahika, and featured several participants with pro-Trump banners and flags.[409][410]

Aftermath


After the Capitol was clear, the Congress reconvened to complete the Electoral College vote count, declaring Biden the winner of the election. Biden was inaugurated on January 20.

Political, legal, and social repercussions

NJ National Guard Troops deployed inside the Capitol, pictured during the swearing-in on January 12

The 2021 United States Capitol attack was followed by various political, legal, and social repercussions. The second impeachment of Donald Trump, who was charged for incitement of insurrection for his conduct, occurred on January 13. At the same time, Cabinet officials were pressured to invoke the 25th Amendment for removing Trump from office.[411] Trump was subsequently acquitted in the Senate trial, after a 57–43 vote in favor of conviction—ten votes short of the two-thirds majority required to convict. Many in the Trump administration resigned. Several large companies[412] announced they were halting all political donations, and others have suspended funding the lawmakers who had objected to certifying Electoral College results.[413] A bill was introduced to form an independent commission, similar to the 9/11 Commission, to investigate the events surrounding the attack; it passed the House but was blocked by Republicans in the Senate.[414] The House then approved a House "select committee" to investigate the attack.[415] In June, the Senate released the results of its own investigation of the riot. The event led to strong criticism of law enforcement agencies. Leading figures within the United States Capitol Police resigned.

A large scale criminal investigation was undertaken, with the FBI opening more than 400 case files.[416] Federal law enforcement undertook a nationwide manhunt for the perpetrators, with arrests and indictments following within days. More than 500 people have been charged with federal crimes.[417][418][419]

Per his involvement in inciting the storming of the Capitol, Trump was suspended from various social media sites, at first temporarily and then indefinitely. In response to various posts by Trump supporters in favor of the attempts to overturn the election, the social networking site Parler was shut down by its service providers. Corporate suspensions of other accounts and programs associated with participating groups also took place.

The inauguration week was marked by nationwide security concerns. Unprecedented security preparations for the inauguration of Joe Biden were undertaken, including the deployment of 25,000 National Guard members. In May, the House passed a $1.9 billion Capitol security bill in response to the attack.[420]

In the days following the attack on the Capitol, Republican politicians in at least three states introduced legislation creating new prohibitions on protest activity.[421]

Domestic reactions

In the aftermath of the 2021 United States Capitol attack, after drawing widespread condemnation from Congress, members of his administration, and the media, Trump released a video-taped statement on January 7 to stop the resignations of his staff and the threats of impeachment or removal from office. In the statement, he condemned the violence at the Capitol, saying that "a new administration will be inaugurated", which was widely seen as a concession, and his "focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power" to the Biden administration.[422][423] Vanity Fair reported that Trump was at least partially convinced to make the statement by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who told Trump a sufficient number of Senate Republicans would support removing him from office unless he conceded.[424] White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany had attempted to distance the administration from the rioters' behavior in a televised statement earlier in the day.[425] On January 9, The New York Times reported that Trump had told White House aides he regretted committing to an orderly transition of power and would never resign from office.[426] In a March 25 interview on Fox News, Trump defended the Capitol attackers, saying they were patriots who posed "zero threat", and he criticized law enforcement for "persecuting" the rioters.[427]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a statement on January 12 condemning the storming of the Capitol, and reminding military personnel everywhere that Biden was about to become their commander-in-chief, saying "... the rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition, and insurrection."[428] The statement also said, "As we have done throughout our history, the U.S. military will obey lawful orders from civilian leadership, support civilian authorities to protect lives and property, ensure public safety in accordance with the law, and remain fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."[429][430] On January 19, Senate Majority Leader McConnell said "the mob was fed lies" and "they were provoked by the president and other powerful people."[431]

House Speaker Pelosi had the flags at the Capitol lowered to half-staff in Sicknick's honor.[432][433] Trump initially declined to lower flags at the White House or other federal buildings under his control, before changing his mind four days later.[434][435][436] Biden, Pence, and Pelosi offered condolences to Sicknick's family; Trump did not.[432][437] After Sicknick's death, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) received backlash for previous speeches that were perceived as calls for violence.[438]

A survey by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston taken January 12–20 showed that nearly a third (32%) of Texas Republicans supported the protest and storming of the Capitol, although overall 83% of those who expressed an opinion were opposed to it.[439] In a poll of Americans just after the storming of the capital, 79% of those surveyed said America is "falling apart".[440][441]

Immediately after the attack, right-wing pro-Trump figures and outlets spread the false claim that antifa instigated the event. A poll released in February 2021 found that 50% of Republicans and 20% of Democrats believe antifa was mostly responsible for the violence.[442]

International reactions

More than seventy countries and international organizations expressed their concerns over the 2021 United States Capitol attack and condemned the violence, with some specifically condemning Trump's own role in inciting the attack.[443][444] Foreign leaders, diplomats, politicians, and institutions expressed shock, outrage, and condemnation of the events.[445][446] Multiple world leaders made a call for peace, describing the riots as "an attack on democracy".[447] The leaders of some countries, including Brazil, Poland and Hungary, declined to condemn the situation, and described it as an internal U.S. affair.[448]

Several NATO intelligence agencies outside the United States also briefed their governments that it was an attempted coup by President Trump which may have had help from federal law-enforcement officials.[449]

See also


Notes


  1. Jurisdictionally, MPD is responsible for city streets of the National Mall and Capitol area, whereas the Park Police are responsible for the Ellipse (the site of Trump's speech and rally that day), the Secret Service is responsible for the vicinity of the White House, and the Capitol Police is responsible for the Capitol complex itself.[150]
  2. Only sporadic instances of injured rioters have been publicly recorded;[366] injuries in general (such as a total number) among this group have not.

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