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2021 storming of the United States Capitol

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2021 storming of the United States Capitol
Part of 2020–21 United States election protests and attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election
Top to bottom, left to right: crowds gathered outside of the Capitol; Donald Trump speaking to supporters at the "Save America" rally; tear gas being deployed against protesters outside the Capitol Building
DateJanuary 6, 2021 (2021-01-06)
Location
38°53′23.3″N 77°00′32.6″W / 38.889806°N 77.009056°W / 38.889806; -77.009056Coordinates: 38°53′23.3″N 77°00′32.6″W / 38.889806°N 77.009056°W / 38.889806; -77.009056
Caused byOpposition to the results of the 2020 United States presidential election
Goals
MethodsRioting,[1] vandalism,[2] looting,[2] assault,[3] shootings,[4] arson,[5] and attempted bombings[6]
Resulted in
Casualties and arrests
Death(s)5 dead[11]
Injuries
  • Unknown number of rioters injured, at least 5 rioters hospitalized[15]
  • 56 officers injured[16][17]
Arrested
  • 80+ rioters arrested[18]

On January 6, 2021, rioters supporting United States President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election stormed the United States Capitol. After breaching multiple police perimeters, they vandalized,[19][20] ransacked,[21] and occupied parts of the building for several hours.[22] The storming led to the evacuation and lockdown of the Capitol building, and it disrupted a joint session of Congress assembled to count the electoral votes and formalize Joe Biden's election victory. The rioters gathered in support of Trump's false claims that the 2020 election had been "stolen" from him. Summoned by Trump,[23] thousands of supporters gathered in Washington, D.C., on January 5 and 6 to demand that Vice President Mike Pence and Congress reject Biden's victory.[24][25][26]

On the morning of January 6, protesters assembled on the Ellipse for a "Save America" rally;[27][28] Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and several members of Congress addressed the crowd.[29] Trump encouraged his supporters to "fight like hell" to "take back our country" and to march towards the Capitol,[30][31] while Giuliani called for "trial by combat,"[32] and Trump Jr. threatened the president's opponents by saying "we're coming for you."[33] As the rioters entered the Capitol by breaking through windows and doors, Capitol security evacuated the Senate and House of Representatives chambers. Several buildings in the Capitol complex were evacuated, and all of them were locked down.[34] Rioters broke past interior security to occupy the evacuated Senate chamber while federal law enforcement officers drew handguns to prevent entry to the evacuated House floor.[35][36][37] The evacuated office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was occupied.[38] Improvised explosive devices were found on the Capitol grounds during the riots; explosives were also found at offices for both the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee, and in a nearby vehicle.

Five people have been confirmed dead from the events and others were seriously injured. One woman attempting to enter the House chamber through a barricaded door was shot by law enforcement and later died.[39][40][41] Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick died after allegedly being struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.[3][14][42] Federal authorities launched a murder investigation to examine Sicknick's killing.[43] Three protesters suffered fatal medical emergencies during the event.

Trump reacted slowly to the storming, first resisting sending the National Guard to quell the mob,[44] and eventually praising the rioters as "great patriots" and telling them to "go home in peace," while reiterating claims of election fraud.[45][46] The crowd was dispersed from the U.S. Capitol later that evening. The process to certify Electoral College results resumed that evening and continued to its conclusion the following morning, with Pence declaring Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the victors and affirming that they will assume office on January 20. Under pressure from his administration, including many resignations, Trump committed to an orderly transition of power in a statement.[47][48][49] On January 9, The New York Times reported that Trump had told White House aides that he regretted committing to a orderly transition of power[50] and would not resign from office.[51]

The events prompted widespread condemnation by political leaders and organizations in the United States and abroad. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the storming of the Capitol a "failed insurrection". House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for Trump to be removed from office, either through the 25th Amendment or by impeachment.[52] Facebook responded by locking Trump's accounts and removing posts related to the incident, and Twitter responded initially by locking his account for 12 hours, then permanently suspending it.[53][54] The riots and storming of the Capitol were described as treason,[55] insurrection, sedition, domestic terrorism,[56] and an attempt by Trump to carry out a coup d'état or self-coup.[57][58][59]

Background

President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in 2020

On November 3, 2020, Democratic candidate Joe Biden won the 2020 United States presidential election, defeating the incumbent Republican president Donald Trump. Before, during, and after the counting of votes, Trump and other Republicans attempted to overturn the election, alleging widespread voter fraud.[60]

Trump had spent previous days suggesting that Vice President Mike Pence should reject Biden's victory, an act that is not within Pence's constitutional powers as vice president, and he repeated this call in his speech on the morning of January 6.[61] The same afternoon, Pence released a letter to Congress in which he said he would not challenge Biden's victory.[61][62]

Congress was scheduled to meet on January 6, 2021, to count the results of the Electoral College vote and certify the winner of the election.

Planning of storming and prior warnings

Trump announced plans for a rally ahead of the January 6 vote count to continue his challenge to the validity of several states' election results. On December 18, Trump announced, "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"[63][64]

The rioters had openly planned to disrupt the counting of Electoral College ballots for several weeks prior to the event and had called for violence against Congress, Pence, and law enforcement.[65] Many websites used to plan the events at the Capitol are regarded as "alt-tech" platforms, distinct from larger social media platforms such as Reddit, Twitter, and other sites that have implemented bans to censor violent language and images. Sites like TheDonald.win, founded after its predecessor was banned from Reddit, social networking service Parler, the chat app Telegram, Gab, and others were used to discuss previous Trump rallies and make plans for storming the Capitol.[66][67][68] Many of the posters planned for potential violence prior to the event, with some individuals discussing how to avoid police on the streets and which tools to bring to help pry open doors.[69] Following clashes with police in Washington D.C during protests on December 12, 2020, the Proud Boys and far-right groups turned against supporting law enforcement with some posting that they were planning for violence during the event.[64] At least one group, Stop the Steal, posted on December 23, 2020, their plans to occupy the Capitol with promises to "escalate" if they were met with opposition from law enforcement.[70]

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said his media company paid $500,000 to book the Ellipse for the pro-Trump rally immediately preceding the riots and claimed that the Trump White House asked him to lead the march to the Capitol. Jones also told supporters that Biden would be removed from office "one way or the other".[71] On January 9, CNBC reported that the "Save America March" and rally that preceded the riots at the Capitol were largely organized by Women for America First, which received funding from the Linda McMahon-headed America First Policies organization.[72]

In the days leading up to the storming, several organizations that monitored online extremism had been issuing warnings about the event.[73] On December 21, 2020, a U.K. political consultant who studies Trump-related extremism tweeted a thread of a forecast of what the planned event of January 6 would become, including deaths.[74] On January 4, the Anti-Defamation League published a blog post warning about violent rhetoric being espoused by Trump supporters leading up to the Electoral College count, including calls to violently disrupt the counting process. The post said that it was not aware of any credible threats of violence, but noted that "if the past is any indication, the combination of an extremist presence at the rallies and the heated nature of the rhetoric suggests that violence is a possibility."[73][75] Also on January 4, British security firm G4S conducted a risk analysis, which found that there would be violent groups in Washington, D.C., between January 6 and Inauguration Day based on online posts advocating for violence.[73][76] Advance Democracy, Inc., a nonpartisan governance watchdog, found 1,480 posts from QAnon-related accounts referencing the events of January 6 in the six days leading up to it, including calls for violence.[73]

Police preparations

Washington, D.C., mayor Muriel Bowser requested on December 31, 2020, that District of Columbia National Guard troops be deployed to support local police during the anticipated demonstrations. She wrote in her request 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. Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller approved the request on January 4, 2021. The approval activated 340 troops, with no more than 114 to be deployed at any given time.[77] Three days before the riots, the Pentagon twice offered to send in the National Guard, but were told by the United States Capitol Police that it would not be necessary.[78] 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.[79] United States 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.[79] 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.[78]

Events in Washington, D.C.

Thousands of attendees gathered in Freedom Plaza on January 5, 2021, in advance of protests planned for the week.[80] On the night of January 5 and into the morning of January 6, at least ten people were arrested, several on weapons charges.[36]

Participating groups

Supporters of the boogaloo movement, the Three Percenters, the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, QAnon, the Groyper Army, and National-anarchism, as well as Neo-Confederates and Black Hebrew Israelites, among others, were reportedly present or wore emblematic gear or symbols during the riots. Neo-Nazi 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").[81] 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 [the] White Revolution in the United States".[82]

"Save America March"

Protesters at Union Station in the morning on January 6

On the morning of January 6, protesters surrounded the Washington Monument to rally. Trump, his lawyer and adviser Rudy Giuliani, and others gave speeches on the Ellipse. Giuliani addressed the crowd, repeating conspiracy theories that voting machines used in the election were "crooked" and calling for "trial by combat".[83] Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL) told the crowd, "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass."[84] Representative Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) said, "This crowd has some fight."[85]

Trump gave a speech from behind a glass barrier, 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.[61][86]

Trump urged his supporters to march on the Capitol, where Congress meets:

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. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard today.[87]

Stop the Steal signs, with one sign demanding executions, seen in front of the Capitol

Trump also told his supporters to "fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore." He declared they 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".[31] Trump's speech, replete with misrepresentations and lies, inflamed the crowd.[88]

Trump's sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, 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.[89] In the early afternoon, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) passed by the protest on his way to the joint session of Congress, and greeted protesters with a raised fist.[90][91]

Rioting in the Capitol building

Protesters gathering outside the United States Capitol

Encouraged by Trump to help him overturn the election result, a crowd marched down Pennsylvania Avenue after Trump's speech and advanced on the Capitol. Alex Jones was a leader of this march.[92]

Another crowd was already gathered there. Around 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), hundreds of Trump supporters fought with officers and pushed through barriers along the perimeter of the Capitol.[93][94] The crowd swept past barriers and officers, with some members of the mob spraying officers with chemical agents or hitting them with lead pipes.[1][95] Although many rioters simply walked to the walls of the Capitol, some resorted to ropes and makeshift ladders.[96] Just after 2:00 p.m., windows were broken through, and the mob breached the building and entered the National Statuary Hall.[97][1][98][37] As rioters began to storm the Capitol and other nearby buildings, some buildings in the complex were evacuated.[36] Outside the building, the mob put up a gallows, punctured the tires of a police vehicle, and left a note saying "PELOSI IS SATAN" on the windshield.[1]

A hanging gallows constructed near the Capitol

Several rioters carried plastic handcuffs, possibly with the intention of using them to take hostages.[65][99][100] Some of the rioters carried Confederate battle flags[1][101][102][103] or Nazi emblems,[104] while others wore riot gear, including helmets and military-style vests. For the first time in U.S. history, a Confederate battle flag was flown by insurrectionists inside the U.S. Capitol building.[105]

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 Arizona U.S. Representative Paul Gosar and endorsed by Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Both chambers were roughly halfway through their two-hour debate on the motion.[106][107]

C-SPAN broadcast of the Senate going into recess after protesters infiltrate the Capitol

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 Arizona U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema to Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Lankford. Moments later, Pence was escorted out by members of the Secret Service, and banging could be heard from outside as people attempted to breach the doors. As Lankford was speaking, the Senate was gaveled into recess at 2:13 p.m.[108] A police officer carrying a semi-automatic weapon appeared on the floor and stood between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles Schumer.[109] With violence breaking out, Capitol security advised the members of Congress to take cover.[110][111]

At 2:24 p.m., Trump tweeted that Pence "didn't have the courage to do what should have been done". Afterwards, Trump followers on far-right social media called for the vice president to be hunted down, and the mob began chanting, "Where is Pence?"[112][113] Outside, the mob chanted, "Hang Mike Pence!,"[114] which some crowds continued to chant as they stormed the Capitol;[115][116] at least three rioters were overheard by a reporter stating they wanted to find Pence and execute the vice president as a "traitor" by hanging him from a tree outside the building.[117] 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".[34]

People inside the Capitol being evacuated. 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.[118]

At 2:30 p.m., the Senate chamber was evacuated.[118][119] After evacuation, the mob briefly took control of the chamber, with some armed and armored men carrying flex-cuffs and some posing with raised fists on the Senate dais that Pence had left minutes earlier.[1][120] A source close to the vice president subsequently told CNN that Trump and his top aides did little to check on Pence's safety during the crisis and appeared unconcerned at the possibility that "an angry mob that he commanded to march on the Capitol might injure the vice president or his family."[121] Pence's wife Karen Pence, daughter Charlotte Pence Bond, and brother Greg Pence (a member of the House) were in the Capitol at the time it was attacked.[121]

Meanwhile, in the House chamber around 2:15 p.m., while Rep. Gosar was speaking, Speaker Pelosi was escorted out of the chamber. The House was gaveled into recess, but would resume a few minutes later.[122][123] Amid the security concerns, Minnesota U.S. Representative Dean Phillips yelled, "This is because of you!" at his Republican colleagues.[124] The House resumed debate around 2:25 p.m. Around 2:30, when Rep. 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.[125] Members of Congress inside the House chamber were told to put on gas masks, after law enforcement began using tear gas within the building.[126][122] Staff members removed boxes of sealed electoral vote certificates to prevent them from being damaged by rioters.[127][128][111] ABC News reported that shots were fired within the Capitol building.[126][129] There was an armed standoff at the front door of the House chamber: As the mob attempted to break in, federal law enforcement officers drew their guns inside the House of Representatives chamber[1] and pointed them towards the doors to the chamber, which were barricaded with furniture.[130] In a stairway, one officer fired a shot at a man coming toward him.[39]

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

Multiple rioters documented themselves occupying the Capitol and the offices of various representatives,[131][132][133] storming the offices of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi,[134][135] and ransacking the office of the Senate Parliamentarian.[136]

At least thirteen Republican current and former state legislators were present at the event, including Nevada State Assemblywoman Annie Black, Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase, Alaska State Representative David Eastman, West Virginia Delegate Derrick Evans, Missouri State Representative Justin Hill, Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem, Michigan State Representative Matt Maddock, Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano, and Tennessee Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, as well as outgoing Georgia State Representative Vernon Jones, outgoing Arizona State Representative Anthony Kern, and former Pennsylvania State Representative Rick Saccone. Weaver claimed to have been "in the thick of it", while Evans filmed himself entering the Capitol alongside rioters. All denied participating in acts of violence.[137][138] Evans was later charged by federal authorities with entering a restricted area;[139] he resigned from the House of Delegates on January 9.[140]

Of the various flags carried by the Trump supporters, an Indian flag was also prominently seen as carried by Trump supporters. It was held by a U.S. citizen of Indian origin hailing from Kochi in Southern India.[141] Many Indians and US citizens of Indian origin supported Trump, as the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsed Trump's candidature in his famous speech during his visit to the United States of America in 2019.[142] Indian right-wing organizations like the Hindu Sena had performed special havans and pujas for Trump's electoral victory.[143] Varun Gandhi, a parliamentarian from India's ruling BJP expressed surprise and disapproved of the prominent display of the Indian flag by some of the protestors on Twitter. However, opposition Indian National Congress leader Shashi Tharoor rebuked him, equating the mentality of some Indians with that of Trump supporters.[144]

Improvised explosive and incendiary devices

Improvised explosive devices were found in several locations in Washington, D.C. A device suspected to be a pipe bomb was discovered adjacent to a building containing Republican National Committee (RNC) offices. A search of the nearby area found another suspected pipe bomb under a bush at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters.[6] The devices were believed to have been planted prior to the riots.[145] Both the RNC building and the DNC headquarters are a few blocks from the Capitol.[146] The RNC and DNC devices were safely detonated by bomb squads, and police later said they were "hazardous" and could have caused "great harm".[6] The FBI distributed a photo of the person who they believe planted the devices and issued a reward of up to $50,000 for information.[145] Another suspected pipe bomb was found on the grounds of the Capitol complex.[147]

A vehicle containing a semi-automatic rifle and a cooler full of eleven Molotov cocktails was also found nearby.[148][149] The driver was subsequently arrested.[150] He also had three handguns.[151]

Law enforcement response

Armed guards walking through the halls of Congress after they were ransacked

About 2:31 p.m. on January 6, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a 6:00 p.m. curfew to go into effect that night.[152] Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia also issued a curfew for nearby Alexandria and Arlington County in Northern Virginia.[153][154]

Northam sent members of the Virginia National Guard and 200 Virginia State Troopers to support D.C. law enforcement.[155] Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland also announced that he would send the Maryland State Police and Maryland National Guard.[156][157] Hogan's requests of the Defense Department to authorize National Guard troops to be deployed at the Capitol initially were denied in multiple instances.[158] Pentagon officials reportedly restricted D.C. guard troops from being deployed except as a measure of last resort, and from receiving ammunition and riot gear; troops were also instructed to engage with protesters only in situations warranting self-defense and could not share equipment with local police or use surveillance equipment without prior approval from Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller.[159][160] Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy and Acting Defense Secretary Miller decided to deploy the entire 1,100-strong force of D.C. National Guard to quell violence.[161] About 3:45 p.m., Miller spoke with Pence, Pelosi, McConnell and Schumer, and directed the National Guard and other "additional support" to respond to the riot.[162][163] The order to send in the National Guard, which Trump initially resisted, was approved by Vice President Pence.[164][165] This bypassing of the chain of command has not been explained.[166]

It took more than three hours for police to retake control of the Capitol, using riot gear, shields, and batons.[1] Capitol Police were assisted by the local D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.[1] Smoke grenades were deployed on the Senate side of the Capitol by Capitol Police working to clear rioters from the building.[167] Capitol Police chief Steven Sund said his officers' slow response to the rioting was due to their being preoccupied by the improvised explosive devices found near the Capitol.[168] FBI and Department of Homeland Security agents wearing riot gear entered the Dirksen Senate Office Building around 4:30 p.m.[169]

Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy announced at 4:57 p.m. that elements of the New Jersey State Police were being deployed to the District of Columbia at the request of D.C. officials, and that the New Jersey National Guard was prepared for deployment if necessary.[170] Shortly before 5:00 p.m., congressional leaders were reportedly being evacuated from the Capitol complex to Fort McNair, a nearby Army base.[171] At around 5:40 p.m., the Sergeant at Arms announced that the Capitol had been secured.[172]

Riot police and protesters outside the Capitol in the evening

As police continued to try to push rioters away from the Capitol, protests continued, some moving out of the Capitol Hill area. Some verbal and physical attacks on reporters were reported, with attackers denigrating media outlets as providing "fake news".[127]

By 6:08 p.m., police had arrested at least thirteen people and seized five firearms during the day's events.[173] Although Mayor Bowser had ordered a 6:00 p.m. curfew, it went largely ignored, and hundreds of pro-Trump demonstrators remained in the Capitol Hill area.[174]

It was reported that 2,700 troops of the D.C. National Guard and 650 troops of the Virginia National Guard would be sent to the city on the night of January 6.[175] Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo pledged to deploy a thousand members of the New York National Guard to D.C., in addition to the resources promised by other states.[176] On the night of January 6, Mayor Bowser issued an order extending the public emergency in Washington, D.C., for 15 days, writing in the order that she expected some people would "continue their violent protests through the inauguration".[177][178] The following day, Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy announced that a fence would be built around the Capitol, and remain in place for at least 30 days; construction of the fence began that same day. McCarthy also said New Jersey National Guard troops would be mobilized, as would as troops from the Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania National Guards.[8]

Completion of electoral vote count

Congressional staffers removed the Electoral College certificates from the Capitol as it was evacuated.

Congress reconvened after the Capitol was cleared of trespassers, with the Senate resuming its session at around 8:00 p.m. EST on January 6 to finish debating the objection to the Arizona electors. At 9:58 p.m., the Senate rejected the objection 93–6, with only six Republicans voting in favor: Ted Cruz (TX), Josh Hawley (MO), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), John Neely Kennedy (LA), Roger Marshall (KS) and Tommy Tuberville (AL).[179] At 11:08 p.m., the House of Representatives also rejected the motion by a margin of 303–121. All of the "yeas" came from Republicans while the "nays" were from 83 Republicans and 220 Democrats.[180]

Another objection was raised by Josh Hawley and Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) to the Pennsylvania slate of electors, triggering another two-hour split in the joint session to debate the objection.[181] At 12:30 a.m. on January 7, the Senate rejected this objection as well by a 92–7 vote, with the same people voting the same way as before with the exceptions of Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Rick Scott (R-FL) voting in favor and John Kennedy voting against.[182] At 3:08 a.m., the House of Representatives similarly rejected the motion to sustain the objection by a margin of 282–138. Again, all of the votes in favor were Republican, while this time, only 64 Republicans voted against and 218 Democrats voted against.[183]

At 3:41 a.m., Congress confirmed the outcome of the Electoral College vote, Biden's 306 votes to Trump's 232, with Pence declaring that Biden and Harris would take office on January 20.[184][185][186][187]

Casualties

Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick was fatally injured by rioters.

Fifteen police officers were hospitalized,[188] and more than 50 injured.[107] Members of the mob hit Capitol Police officers in the head with lead pipes and other weapons, some disguised as flag poles.[189] Five people died during or shortly after the event, including one police officer.[190]

Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick, 42, a 15-year veteran of the force and a former National Guardsman, was fatally injured by rioters. The specific cause of Sicknick's death was not initially released, though law enforcement officials told The New York Times that he had been struck in the head by a fire extinguisher.[3] Reuters reported that Sicknick suffered a stroke after sustaining head injuries,[191] and collapsed after returning to his division office. He was taken to a hospital and died the next day.[14][192][193] Federal authorities launched a murder investigation into Sicknick's death.[43] Pelosi, the House speaker, had the flags at the Capitol lowered to half-staff in Sicknick's honor;[194] the flag at the White House was not lowered.[195] After Sicknick's death was announced, Senator Ted Cruz received backlash for previous speeches that were perceived as calls for violence, with "#TedCruzKilledACop" being the top Twitter trend in the United States.[196]

During the riot, Ashli Elizabeth Babbitt,[197] a 35-year-old unarmed veteran from San Diego, was killed by Capitol Police via a gunshot wound to the neck.[198] Babbitt and more than a dozen rioters were attempting to break through barricaded doors into the Speaker's Lobby, leading to the House chamber, shortly before 3:00 p.m. EST; Babbitt climbed through a smashed portion of the door, just yards away from members of Congress, and was shot by a Capitol Police officer.[199][200][198] The incident was recorded on several cameras.[200][199] A law enforcement official told The Washington Post that the police believe she had been unarmed, but the officer who fired the fatal shot did not know that at the time, and officers were aware that many of the intruders were carrying concealed weapons.[39] The officer who shot her was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.[201] The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department launched an investigation into the death.[202] Babbitt was a follower of the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory, and had tweeted the previous day "the storm is here", a reference to a QAnon prediction that Trump will expose and defeat a global cabal of perceived Satan-worshipping pedophiles.[203][204][205]

Three other protesters also died, identified as Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia; Kevin Greeson, 55, from Athens, Alabama; and Benjamin Philips, 50, of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.[206][207][208] Greeson died of a heart attack while Philips died of a stroke.[209] Boyland's cause of death was disputed; one account said she was crushed to death, while another said she collapsed while standing at the side in the Capitol rotunda.[210][211][212][213] The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that there was "no indication Philips himself participated in the raid on the Capitol."[214] Phillips started the social media site Trumparoo, intended for Trump supporters.[215] Greeson's family said he was "not there to participate in violence or rioting, nor did he condone such actions." However, his social media posts included calls for people to "Load your guns and take to the streets!" and "given them [a] war."[216] Boyland's sister also said she "had no intention of committing violence when she traveled to Washington" and simply wanted to show her support.[212]

There were calls for Trump to be prosecuted for inciting the violence that led to the five deaths,[217][218] although it is not clear that the medical emergencies were due to violence. An article on Law & Crime discussed whether felony murder charges in relation to Babbitt's death could be brought against protesters, those who invaded the Capitol, or instigators of the rally. It concluded that such charges were very unlikely.[219]

Damage, theft, and impact

Broken window

The rioters caused extensive physical damage, with Capitol Police officers reporting that the building had been "trashed".[167][1] Items including portraits of John Quincy Adams and James Madison and a marble statue of Thomas Jefferson were covered in “corrosive gas agent residue” and have been sent to the Smithsonian for assessment and restoration.[220] Social media photos shared by protesters showed criminal activities such as theft and vandalism.[2] Rioters stormed the offices of Nancy Pelosi, flipping tables and ripping photos from walls;[134][135] the office of the Senate Parliamentarian was ransacked;[136] art was looted;[1] and urine and feces were tracked into several hallways.[221][222][167] Windows were smashed throughout the building, leaving the floor littered with glass and debris.[1][223] A 19th-century marble bust of President Zachary Taylor was defaced with what seemed to be blood, but the most important works in the collection escaped unharmed.[223] Some items of furniture were damaged, turned over, or stolen.[223] Rioters destroyed Associated Press recording and broadcasting equipment outside the Capitol after chasing away reporters.[224] Rioters also destroyed a placard honoring the life of congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis.[225] The Architect of the Capitol has not yet released a full damage assessment.[223]

A laptop owned by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) was stolen,[226] and the Justice Department noted in a briefing that "national security equities" may have been stolen. Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) noted that "we have to do a full review of what was taken, or copied, or even left behind in terms of bugs and listening devices."[79] Military news website SOFREP reported that "several" Secret-level 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.[227][228]

Signs, flags, stickers, Nancy Pelosi's damaged nameplate and other items left behind from the riot will be preserved as historical artifacts in the collections of the House and Senate which they plan to share with national museums.[229]

Reactions

President Donald Trump

Actions during the riot

Donald Trump's statement during the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The video was originally posted on Twitter and shared on other social media before being removed from all platforms for violating various policies.

Trump, who had spent previous weeks promoting the "Saving America" rally,[230] was "initially pleased" when his supporters breached the Capitol, refusing to intercede;[231] Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) said that senior White House officials told him that Trump was "delighted" to hear that rioters were entering the Capitol.[232] 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.[233]

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!"[234] By 3:10 p.m., pressure was building on Trump to condemn supporters engaged in the riots; Trump's former communications director, Alyssa Farah, called upon him to "Condemn this now" and wrote "you are the only one they will listen to."[234] By 3:25 p.m., 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 did not call upon the crowd to disperse.[234] By 3:40 p.m., a number of congressional Republicans called upon Trump to more specifically condemn violence and to call on his supporters to end the occupation of the Capitol: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said that he had spoken to Trump to ask him to "calm individuals down"; Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued a tweet telling Trump that "it is crucial you help restore order by sending resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down"; and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI), in a video message, told Trump to "call it off".[234] In contrast to Trump, who only called upon his supporters to "remain peaceful", Pence called for the occupation of the Capitol to end immediately.[234]

By 3:50 p.m., White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that the National Guard and "other federal protective services" had been deployed.[234] At 4:22 p.m., Trump issued a video message on social media that was later taken down by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. In it, he praised his supporters and repeated his claims of a fraud, saying, "This was a fraudulent election, but we can't play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You're very special. You've seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace."[45][234]

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!"[234][46][235][236]

At 7:00 p.m., 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". Giuliani said, "I know they're reconvening at 8 tonight, but it ... the only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow -- ideally until the end of tomorrow."[233]

Subsequent actions

Shortly after Congress certified Biden's victory, Trump's Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications and Director of Social Media Dan Scavino issued a statement from Trump saying, "Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it's only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!"[237]

In a video statement released on January 7, Trump condemned the violence at the Capitol, saying that "a new administration will be inaugurated", which was widely seen as a concession, and that his "focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power" to the Biden administration.[238][239] White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany had attempted to distance the administration from the rioters' behavior in a televised statement earlier in the day.[240]

After Trump acknowledged he had lost the election he was criticized by many of his supporters. Far-right political commentators Nick Fuentes and Cassandra Fairbanks said Trump had "throw[n] his supporters under the bus", while QAnon conspiracy theorists performed a numerological reading of the time stamps in Trump's video statement, and users of Parler called Trump a "dildo".[241]

Vice President Mike Pence

Pence tweeted at 3:35 p.m. on January 6, "This attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law".[242] He later spoke to the Senate when they reconvened on the night of January 6, saying, "Today was a dark day in the United States Capitol ... To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the People's House."[243][244]

Some aides to Pence felt that the vice president had been betrayed by Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows, and that they were setting Pence up as "a scapegoat" given Trump's unwillingness to admit defeat.[121]

President-elect Joe Biden

External video
video icon Comments by President-elect Joe Biden, January 6, 2021, C-SPAN

On January 6 at 4:06 p.m., President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation from Wilmington, Delaware, calling the events an insurrection and borderline sedition, and said that "our democracy is under unprecedented assault".[245][246] He called upon Trump to go on national television and demand an end to the protests.[247][248]

Vice president-elect Kamala Harris

Minutes afterward, Vice president-elect Kamala Harris reiterated Biden's comments, writing that the protests were an "assault on the Capitol and our nation's public servants".[249] The following day Biden said the attack constituted domestic terrorism.[250]

Congress

Schumer's speech following the riot, during the reconvening of Congress later that evening.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell broke rank with the President and called the storming of the Capitol a "failed insurrection" and said "we are back at our posts, we will discharge our duty under the Constitution and for our nation. And we're going to do it tonight."[251] Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called upon Trump to "demand that all protesters leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately".[252] Schumer, in his speech following the resuming of Senate business, labelled those participating in the storming of the Capitol as "domestic terrorists" whose actions will be a "stain on our country not so easily washed away".[253] Pelosi later said, following her announcement that the electoral vote count would proceed during the evening of January 6, "let us pray that this instigation to violence will provide an epiphany for our country to heal".[254]

U.S. Representative Cori Bush of Missouri tweeted her intent to introduce a resolution calling for the expulsion of "Republican members of Congress who have incited this domestic terror attack through their attempts to overturn the election".[255][256]

Republican U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois condemned the violence and described the events as a "coup attempt".[58] Wyoming U.S. Representative Liz Cheney, the Chair of the House Republican Conference (the third-ranking member of the House Republican leadership), said "No question the President formed the mob, the President incited the mob, the President addressed the mob. He lit the flame."[257] Newly-sworn-in Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina, who had worked for the President's 2016 campaign, said that "everything that he's worked for ... all of that—his entire legacy—was wiped out" by the violence.[258] Wisconsin U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher remarked of the riots that he had "not seen anything like this since I deployed to Iraq".[259] Washington U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who had planned to oppose the certification of the electoral vote, announced that she would no longer object to the Electoral College results after witnessing the "disgraceful and un-American" events of January 6.[260] She was joined by senators Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, Steve Daines of Montana, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Mike Braun of Indiana, all of whom reversed course on the issue of contesting the electoral vote after witnessing the violence of the mob.[261]

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said, "What happened at the U.S. Capitol today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States" and part of "an unprecedented attack on our democracy".[262] Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said, "This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the president's addiction to constantly stoking division."[263] Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania took to the Senate floor to say, "We saw bloodshed because a demagogue chose to spread falsehoods and sow distrust of his own fellow Americans."[264] Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina said, "The President bears responsibility for today's events by promoting the unfounded conspiracy theories that have led to this point."[265] Senator Ted Cruz condemned the protest and said, "Violence is always unacceptable. Even when passions run high. Anyone engaged in violence—especially against law enforcement—should be fully prosecuted."[266] Cruz himself, as well as Senator Josh Hawley, were subsequently urged to resign by Senators Chris Coons of Delaware, Patty Murray of Washington and Ron Wyden of Oregon.[267] Criticism was also leveled against both senators for sending out fundraising messages while the events in Washington were unfolding.[268][269]

Former presidents

All four living former presidents—Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter—denounced the storming of the Capitol, with Obama and Clinton condemning Trump for inciting the violence.[270] Bush, who has infrequently commented on national matters since leaving office in 2009, released a statement saying "this is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic." Furthermore, he was "appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement."[271] Obama wrote that "History will rightly remember today's violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president, who has continued to lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation" but that the violence was unsurprising given the two-month campaign by "a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem" to promote a "fantasy narrative" that "has spiraled further and further from reality ... whipped up into a violent crescendo."[272]

Other domestic reactions

Against rioters

William Barr, Trump's former attorney general, denounced the violence, calling it "outrageous and despicable," adding that the president's actions were a "betrayal of his office and supporters" and that "orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable."[273][274] Trump's former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney urged the President to call a stop to the storming of the Capitol,[275] and later resigned from his post as the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland.[276] Jim Mattis, a former Marine general and Trump's first secretary of defense, and Tom Bossert, Trump's first homeland security adviser, condemned Trump for enabling the storming and destroying trust in the election.[277][278]

Ivanka Trump, the president's eldest daughter, was criticized for addressing the rioters as "American patriots" in a now-deleted tweet publicly urging the cessation of violence.[279] Terry Gainer, a former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police and former Senate sergeant-at arms, described the protests as unprecedented in law enforcement, declaring that "this is a much more hateful crowd incited by the president himself. It's definitely something new in our business."[280]

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley condemned the pro-Trump riot as "wrong and un-American"[281] and, in a closed-door speech to Republican National Committee members the following day, criticized Trump's actions since Election Day.[282] MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, called for the arrest of President Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Rudy Giuliani.[283]

Former acting CIA director Michael Morell (2010–2013) said, "We should be calling what happened [on January 6] domestic terrorism."[284] Similarly, national security expert Bruce Hoffman also determined that the attacks on the US Capitol constituted "domestic terrorism," as well.[285]

Many news outlets, including CNN,[286] USA Today,[287] The Guardian,[288] The Washington Post,[289] and CBS News,[290] criticized the police response to the storming of the Capitol in contrast to the police response to the Black Lives Matter protests in the previous year. In June 2020, during Black Lives Matter demonstrations, 5,000 National Guard members guarded the White House;[288] however, in an attempt to avoid inflaming tensions since those protests, Mayor Muriel Bowser opted not to call National Guard members from other states for the January 6 demonstrations, causing the law enforcement presence to be "relatively small" and "not prepared for rioters".[291][292]

Chuck Schumer said, "What happened at the US Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer." Schumer called on Mike Pence to invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that enables power to be transferred from the president to the vice-president if the president is deemed incapable of handling duties.[293]

Former New Jersey governor and Trump supporter Chris Christie was "absolutely sickened" by the riots.[294]

Support for rioters

The New York Times reported that Trump supporters in Congress, the media and in conservative politics "downplayed the violence as acts of desperation by people who felt lied to by the news media and ignored by their elected representatives". Others asserted the violence was actually caused by individuals associated with antifa.[295] ABC News reported that conservative media outlets were clear that "the violence was indefensible", and that several conservative media outlets said that "liberal politicians and mainstream media outlets are more outraged when Trump supporters are violent than they were about civil rights demonstrations last summer", with Newsmax headling the "hypocritical double standard on Trump vs. BLM protests".[296]

Conservative media hosts—including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Greg Kelly, and Mark Levin—also sought to deflect responsibility from Trump supporters. Sinclair Broadcast Group provided a video segment to its owned and operated television stations in over 100 markets in which correspondent James Rosen reported "far-left infiltrators" had been involved, though he did not provide a source for the assertion.[297] Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh compared the rioters to the Founding Fathers of the United States.[298] Lou Dobbs criticized Capitol police for drawing guns "on American citizens, most of whom are patriots."[299] Television host Pete Hegseth defended the rioters, saying "they just love freedom" and that "people feel like the entire system is rigged against them".[300]

Members of the far-right group Proud Boys posted messages boasting and taking credit for causing "absolute terror".[301] The sergeant-at-arms of the Republican Party of Texas was removed from his post after expressing support for the rioters on Facebook.[302]

False flag conspiracy theories

Some Trump loyalists claimed that the incident was a false flag operation staged by antifa to implicate Trump supporters. In an apparent effort to shift blame for any violence on antifa, leaders of the Proud Boys had requested in posts on conservative-leaning microblogging service Parler that members of the extremist group attend the rally incognito wearing "all black" clothing synonymous with anti-fascist activists.[303] Facial recognition company "XR Vision" denied a report by Rowan Scarborough published in The Washington Times that its products had identified participants in the incursion as antifa activists, which was promoted by Fox News host Laura Ingraham and congressman Matt Gaetz and went viral among Trump supporters. The Times removed the story from its website hours later and published a retraction. Similar baseless accusations of antifa false flag operations had circulated among Trump supporters since 2017.[304] The FBI said there was no evidence of antifa involvement in the mob incursion.[305][306][307]

Opinion polling

A YouGov poll of 1,397 registered voters found that overall, 71% opposed the storming of the Capitol (while 21% supported it), and 62% believed that the storming should be considered a threat to democracy. Among Republicans, 45% of Republicans supported the storming, with 43% opposed. In contrast, 96% of Democrats and 67% of independents were opposed. Fifty-two percent of Republicans blamed Joe Biden for the incident.[308][309]

An Ipsos poll of 1,005 adults conducted between January 7–8, 2021, found that 70% of Americans disapproved of Trump's actions leading up to the assault on the Capitol, and 57% of Americans wanted Trump to be immediately removed for his role in the riots. 70% of respondents—including two-thirds of Republicans and Trump voters surveyed—described the participants as either "criminals" or "fools," 9% saw them as "concerned citizens" and 5% saw them as "patriots." Among 339 Trump voters surveyed, 70% opposed the storming by the rioting supporters, while 12% of all respondents supported their actions.[310]

A PBS NewsHour/Marist poll of 875 adults conducted on January 7, 2021, found that 18% of Republicans supported the riots. Generally, 88% of all respondents opposed or strongly opposed the rioters' actions, and 90% believed the perpetrators of the riot should face prosecution (with 17% of Republicans disagreeing); 63% of respondents felt Trump held "a great deal or good amount of blame" for the attack, while 69% of surveyed Republicans believed Trump bore "little or no fault." Support for Trump's removal from office was split, with 48% supporting it and 49% (including 51% of independent voters) opposed.[311]

International reaction

Over 70 other countries and international organizations have all expressed their concerns over the protests and condemned the violence, with some specifically condemning Trump's own role in inciting the attack.[312][313] Multiple world leaders have made a call for peace, describing the riots as "an attack on democracy".[314] The leaders of Brazil, Mexico, Poland, Hungary and Russia declined to condemn the situation, and described it as an internal U.S. affair.[315]

Aftermath

Criticism of Capitol Police

Pro-Trump protesters around the Capitol on the evening of January 6

Law enforcement's failure to prevent the mob from breaching the Capitol attracted scrutiny to the Capitol Police and other police agencies involved.[316] The Capitol Police, which has jurisdiction over an area of around two square miles, is one of the largest and best-funded police forces in the United States, with around 2,000 officers, an annual budget of more than $460 million, extensive access to military weaponry, and extensive experience of responding to protests and high-profile events; it has more than tripled in size since 1996.[65] Prior to the storming of the Capitol, the barriers erected were low and most officers were in regular uniforms rather than riot gear, aimed at managing a protest rather than deterring an attack.[316] Policing experts criticized the Capitol Police's preparation and initial response, stating that the agency had underestimated the potential threat from Trump supporters; unwisely allowed rioters to gather on the Capitol steps; and failed to immediately arrest the rioters, or otherwise respond to the disorder, after the forced entry.[316] The Washington Post reported that the Capitol Police was caught off guard by an overwhelming crowd whose size more than doubled the FBI's prediction and that the police lacked enough personnel to immediately detain all the intruders; the Post further noted that "some officers were captured on video appearing to stand back as rioters streamed inside."[316][317] Some of the shortfall in staffing was attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, with officers who were quarantined after being infected with or exposed to the COVID-19 virus.[316]

Footage emerged on social media of police allowing rioters through barricades into the Capitol, and one officer was filmed taking a "selfie" with a rioter inside the building.[318][319][320] Representative Jim Cooper was concerned that Capitol Police could have been complicit in the breach, saying "At worst, [Capitol Police] let this protest proceed unlike any other".[321] U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren, who chairs a committee responsible for Capitol security, said Capitol Police chief Steven Sund lied to her before the event about the preparations he had made and the readiness of the National Guard.[322] Multiple European security officials, including two intelligence officials from NATO member countries, in interviews with Business Insider suggested the breach may have been abetted by "tacit support" of the attackers among members of Capitol Police and other federal agencies assisting with Capitol complex security.[323] Politico reported some rioters briefly showing their police badges or military identification to law enforcement as they approached the Capitol.[79] Ed Davis, the former commissioner of the Boston Police Department, suggested Capitol Police leaders may have felt "that well, these are a bunch of conservatives, they’re not going to do anything like [the ensuing riot]", leading to "a lack of urgency or a sense that this could never happen with this crowd".[78]

Representative Tim Ryan, the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch (which has budgetary authority over the Capitol Police), announced that he would begin an inquiry into security lapses that allowed the violent mob to overrun the Capitol and breach into the legislative chambers. Ryan indicated that he expected some officers in the Capitol Police to be fired, and cited a "lack of professional planning and dealing" and "strategic mistakes" ahead of "the insurrection and the attempted coup".[324]

On January 8, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee launched a joint investigation into the Capitol Police's security failures.[325] The law enforcement failures that allowed the storming of the Capitol led the U.S. Secret Service to initiate a review of its security plans for the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.[316]

Accusations of differential treatment

Police officers before the storming

Civil rights organizers and political commentators claimed that groups involved with racial injustice protests in D.C. during the prior summer had been subjected to much harsher tactics and treatment than had been used towards the protesters who stormed the Capitol.[326][327] Multiple media outlets covered posts from users on social media which made claims that due to white privilege and male privilege,[327] the police treated the protesters with more leniency than they would people of color or disabled individuals,[328] with many citing a moment when a police officer took a selfie with a protester.[329] U.S. Representative Tim Ryan said: "If black people were storming the Capitol, they would have been treated so much differently than they were today. I don’t think there's any question that communities of color would have been handled much, much differently."[324]

Writer Roxane Gay said black protesters "would be lying dead in front of the Capitol building" if they had behaved in the same way as the Trump supporters.[330] The journalist Adam Serwer juxtaposed the Capitol Police's failure to prevent theft from the Capitol to Trump's use of the phrase "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" the previous year.[330] Phillip Atiba Goff of Yale University and the Center for Policing Equity described the mobilization of police around the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial while Black Lives Matter protesters walked past in 2020 as "more militaristic than when armed white supremacists told us they were going to storm the Capitol in order to interrupt democracy".[99] Others compared the treatment of the pro-Trump rioters to the Capitol Police's violent treatment of disabled protesters associated with ADAPT in 2017, and the serious injuries inflicted on peaceful protesters by other police forces using rubber bullets and tear gas during the George Floyd protests.[330]

Citing disparities in the use of force when compared to recent Black Lives Matter protests, Representative Jamaal Bowman proposed legislation to investigate whether members of the Capitol Police have ties to white supremacist groups.[331]

Resignations

Ken Cuccinelli, acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, touring the Capitol after the attack to survey damage

The day after the attack, Pelosi called upon Capitol Police chief Steven Sund to resign, citing a failure of leadership, and said she had been unable to reach Sund since the attack.[332] Sund announced his resignation that day, effective January 16.[333][322] On the same day, the resignation of Paul D. Irving, Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives, was announced. Chuck Schumer said he would fire Michael C. Stenger, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate, upon becoming majority leader later in January.[322] Shortly thereafter, outgoing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for and received Stenger's resignation, effective immediately.[322]

Media coverage and criticism

CNN had its most-watched day in history.[334][335][336]

On January 7, David Bauder, a writer for the Associated Press, criticized conservative media coverage of the storming, saying that while "Media outlets that appeal to conservatives offered condemnations, explanations and deflections following the U.S. Capitol riot by President Donald Trump's supporters", they also offered "little introspection".[337] Erik Wemple, a writer for The Washington Post, criticized Fox News conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson for what Wemple perceived as a "racist, riotous double standard" in his coverage of the storming compared to his coverage of the killing of George Floyd.[338]

Grady McGregor and Naomi Xu Elegant, writers for Fortune, criticized Chinese state media reports for using the storming to promote an anti-Hong Kong Protests, anti-Democracy, and anti-United States narrative.[339]

Criminal investigation and prosecutions

On January 7, Michael R. Sherwin, the interim United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, said rioters could be charged with seditious conspiracy or insurrection.[168] He said any Capitol Police officer found to have assisted the rioters would be charged,[100] and he further suggested that Trump could be investigated for comments he made to his supporters before they stormed the Capitol and that others who "assisted or facilitated or played some ancillary role" in the events could also be investigated.[168] The day after the storming of the Capitol, the FBI and D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department requested the public for assistance to identify any of the rioters.[340][341][342]

On January 8, federal prosecutors announced charges against 13 people in connection with the Capitol riot. They included a 70-year-old resident of Falkville, Alabama who allegedly parked a truck containing 11 homemade incendiary devices, an assault rifle, and a handgun two blocks from the Capitol; and a man who brought an assault rifle, two handguns, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and who allegedly told acquaintances that he wanted to shoot or run over Nancy Pelosi.[343]

Trump administration resignations

Matthew Pottinger, the Deputy National Security Advisor;[344] Stephanie Grisham, the chief of staff for First Lady Melania Trump; Sarah Matthews, the White House Deputy Press Secretary; and Anna Cristina "Rickie" Niceta Lloyd, the White House Social Secretary, resigned in protest on the day of the storming of the Capitol.[345][346][347] CNN reported that evening that several Trump aides were considering resigning, including Robert O'Brien and Chris Liddell.[348]

The next day, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao became the first cabinet member to announce her resignation, effective January 11.[349] She was followed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who also cited the Capitol Hill incident.[350] Mick Mulvaney, Trump's former chief of staff and the administration's special envoy to Northern Ireland; and Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, announced their resignations as well.[276][351] Upon his exit, Mulvaney stated, "I can't do it. I can't stay ... Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they're worried the President might put someone worse in." He also stated that Trump "wasn't the same as he was eight months ago."[276] Five senior officials at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) resigned in protest.[352]

Julian Borger of The Guardian observed that the resignations were mostly among "second-tier officials" and that there was "no sign ... of a sweeping exodus or mutiny".[168] House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts criticized DeVos and Chao for resigning rather than voting to invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment to remove Trump from office.[353]

Proposals to remove Trump via constitutional processes

Representative Adam Kinzinger (Illinois' 16th district) became the first Republican lawmaker to call for Trump to be removed via 25th Amendment.[354]

The Democratic leaders in Congress—Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi—called upon Vice President Pence to invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment and indicated that they would pursue impeachment of Trump for a second time if he did not.[9][355] Pelosi said Trump "incited an armed insurrection against America" and instigated "the gleeful desecration of the U.S. Capitol [and] violence targeting Congress".[356] The never-before-invoked provision of the Twenty-fifth Amendment allows the vice president, with a majority of Cabinet secretaries, to declare Trump "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" by written declaration.[357][358] On January 8, Pelosi also spoke to Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about precautions to prevent Trump, who she described as "unhinged" and "unstable", from initiating military hostilities or accessing the Gold Codes to launch nuclear weapons.[359]

As of January 8, 199 representatives and 38 Senators have called for the invocation of the Twenty-fifth Amendment or Trump's impeachment and removal from office in inciting the riot. All were Democrats (including two independent Senators who caucus with the Democrats, Angus King and Bernie Sanders), except for a sole Republican, U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.[360] Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski also called for Trump to resign.[361] Republican Senator Ben Sasse said he would consider articles of impeachment from the House and that "the president has disregarded his oath of office."[362] Republican Senator Pat Toomey stated that he thinks "the President committed impeachable offenses".[363] President-elect Biden did not take a position on a prospective fast-track impeachment of Trump, saying the matter is for Congress to decide.[364]

Among Democratic governors, calls for Trump to step down or be removed from office were made by J. B. Pritzker of Illinois,[365][366] Andrew Cuomo of New York,[367] Roy Cooper of North Carolina,[368] and Jay Inslee of Washington state.[369] Three Republican governors who have been critical of Trump—Phil Scott of Vermont, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, and Larry Hogan of Maryland—also called upon Trump to resign or be removed from office.[370] Conversely, Governor Henry McMaster of South Carolina, a Republican closely allied with Trump, opposed calls to remove Trump from office,[371] and Mike DeWine, the Republican governor of Ohio, opposed invocation of the Twenty-fifth Amendment on the grounds because he believed it "would cause more division than healing" and because there were less than two weeks remaining in Trump's term.[372]

Yoni Appelbaum of The Atlantic called for the impeachment of Trump a second time.[373] Several conservative commentators, including Rod Dreher, Daniel Larison, and John Podhoretz, expressed their support for the impeachment and removal of Trump.[374][375][376] The conservative editorial board of The Wall Street Journal wrote that Trump's behavior in the incident "crosses a constitutional line that Mr. Trump hasn't previously crossed. It is impeachable" and that the "best outcome would be for him to resign."[377] Calling the armed storming of the Capitol an "act of sedition", The Washington Post's editorial board wrote that Trump's "continued tenure in office poses a grave threat to U.S. democracy" as well as to public order and national security, and called for Pence to immediately begin the Twenty-fifth Amendment process to declare Trump "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" so that Pence could serve until Biden's inauguration on January 20.[378]

The National Association of Manufacturers also requested Pence to "seriously consider" invoking the Twenty-fifth Amendment.[379] On the evening of January 6, some Cabinet members held preliminary discussions about the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to declare Trump "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" and thus transfer his powers and duties to Pence as acting president;[380][381][382] however, Pence reportedly rejected calls to invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment.[383]

Calls for Trump to be prosecuted for inciting the crowd to storm the Capitol also were made in the aftermath of the event.[384] D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser stated: "We saw an unprecedented attack on our American democracy incited by the United States president. He must be held accountable. His constant and divisive rhetoric led to the abhorrent actions we saw today."[218]

Potential spread of COVID-19

Public health experts have said that the storming of the Capitol was a potential COVID-19 superspreader event.[385] Few members of the crowd wore face coverings, with many coming from out of town, and few of the rioters were immediately detained and identified.[385] U.S. Representative Jacob LaTurner, Republican of Kansas, tested positive for COVID-19 after the lockdown was lifted on the evening of January 6; LaTurner—who began his freshman congressional term on January 3—did not return to the House floor when the Electoral College count proceedings resumed. As many as 200 congressional staffers reportedly sheltered in various rooms inside the Capitol, further increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.[385][386]

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and lead member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said in an interview with WJLA-TV that the rioters "probably put themselves at an increased risk because they essentially did not adhere to the fundamentals of public health" to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as "universal wearing of masks, keeping physical distance, [and] avoiding crowds in congregate settings."[387] The day after the storming of the Capitol, Eric Toner, a senior scholar from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said the storming of the Capitol was "extraordinarily dangerous" from a public-health perspective.[385]

American neo-Nazi and white supremacist activist Tim "Baked Alaska" Gionet participated in the day's events, including storming the Capitol, despite a recent COVID-19 diagnosis.[388]

Social media crackdowns on conspiracies and incendiary content

The role of social media in the storming of the Capitol created pressure for platforms to strengthen enforcement of moderation policies prohibiting extremist content to prevent further violence, albeit at the risk of promulgating unsupported accusations that such policies promote an implicit ideological bias by specifically limiting expression of conservative political and social viewpoints through controversial or false statements, despite First Amendment protections not applying to private entities and to speech deemed to be obscene or defamatory.[389][390]

Shortly after Trump's January 6 video message was uploaded, the video was removed by Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for violating site policies on "civil integrity" and election misinformation.[391] Facebook executive Guy Rosen stated that the video was removed because "it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence."[392] That evening, Twitter locked Trump's account for twelve hours and threatened a permanent suspension for "repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy." Twitter also required him to remove three of his tweets.[393][394] Snapchat indefinitely suspended Trump's account on the platform the same day,[395] while Shopify terminated shops that sold Trump campaign paraphernalia and merchandise from his personal TrumpStore brand.[396] The following day, Facebook and its platforms, including Instagram, announced they had banned Trump indefinitely, at least until he steps down from the presidency. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote, "The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor."[397] On January 7, Twitch announced it had disabled Trump's channel on the platform.[398]

On January 8, Twitter permanently suspended Trump "due to the risk of further incitement of violence" from his tweets, citing the interpretable context of two posts from that day in which he claimed the approximately 75 million "great American Patriots" who voted for him in the 2020 election "will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!" and confirmed he would not attend Biden's January 20 inauguration.[10] The company noted it was aware that "plans for future armed protests [had] already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021" and "there are multiple indicators that [Trump's recent tweets] are being received and understood as encouragement to do so." The ban extended to the official presidential account, @POTUS, and his campaign's account, @TeamTrump, subjecting any subsequent posts to deletion; as well as to sock puppet accounts created specifically for him to evade the ban, which would be permanently suspended "at first detection."[399][400]

Trump circumvented the ban at least twice that evening, and a staff member attempted to help him circumvent it through a third account. He blasted Twitter's decision in threads posted on @POTUS and @TeamTrump, baselessly accusing the platform of "coordinat[ing] with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing [his main] account," suggesting a "big announcement" of a possible new social platform for him and his supporters, and uploaded an image of Twitter's bird logo emblazoned with the Soviet flag to decry what he felt was censorship of his speech. Twitter removed the thread post from @POTUS (which, as it is a government-run account, was kept active in preparation for being transferred to the Biden administration upon his inauguration) and suspended @TeamTrump entirely for repeated violations of its ban evasion policy through those accounts;[400] it subsequently suspended the account of Trump campaign digital director Gary Coby, after he changed his avatar and account name to that of Trump—while keeping his own account handle eponym—and tried to forward it via tweet to Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino in an apparent attempt to allow Trump to use it as a sock puppet.[400]

Twitter also banned accounts deemed to be "solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content," including those belonging to former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son Michael Flynn Jr., attorneys Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood (both of whom brought failed lawsuits challenging the election results), and 8chan co-administrator Ron Watkins.[10][401] Using the aforementioned talking points about speech on social media long levied by conservatives, allies of Trump—including former senior campaign adviser Jason Miller, former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and former deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka—accused Twitter of violating free speech and perceived liberal bias for removing Trump and other prominent conservatives from the platform.[402]

Citing complaints that some of its users (including members of the Proud Boys) coordinated the storming of the Capitol through the platform, on January 8, Apple sent notice to the owners of microblogging platform Parler—which markets itself as a "pro-free-speech" platform with a userbase predominantly consisting of Trump supporters, conservatives, far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists—that its iOS and iPadOS apps would be removed from the App Store within 24 hours unless Parler implemented a more robust content moderation policy.[403] The same day, Google removed Parler's Android app from the Google Play Store, noting that Google was aware of "continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the US."[404] Parler later removed several posts from Lin Wood espousing conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric, including a call for Vice President Pence and others to be subjected to firing squads, for violating community rules on speech encouraging violence.[405]

Also on January 8, Discord banned a pro-Trump server called "The Donald", which had ties to the banned subreddit r/The Donald. Discord cited the connection between the server and The Donald's online forum, which was used in planning the riot.[406] YouTube terminated two accounts belonging to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, including one hosting his “War Room” podcast, for repeated community guidelines violations pertaining to misinformation about widespread fraud or errors that affected the 2020 election's outcome.[407]

Security measures

Members of Congress will receive additional security as they travel through airports, following the storming as well as incidents of Senators being harassed. In addition, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and Dulles International Airport will receive security from the Capitol Police during Inauguration Day.[408]

Events outside Washington, D.C.

State capitols

Multiple U.S. state capitols closed for safety reasons after the storming of the U.S. Capitol.[409][410] Several states also experienced protests and riots.

Eleven people were arrested in Sacramento, California, for illegal possession of pepper spray. No injuries were reported, but there was at least one reported assault. Several roads were closed in downtown Sacramento and some bus lines were stopped, with over 200 police assigned to the demonstration. Some members of the crowd wore t-shirts supporting the far-right Proud Boys.[411][412] Militia members in Georgia also attempted to storm the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, leading to the evacuation of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other officials.[413] By about 3:15 p.m on January 6, 2021, it was reported that the majority of the demonstration had disbanded outside of the Georgia Capitol.[414] Protests took place inside the Kansas State Capitol.[415] A capitol police officer stated that protesters were allowed in the rotunda, as they had a permit to protest there.[416][417]

Trump supporters and police at the Texas State Capitol on January 6

A peaceful "Storm the Capitol" rally in St. Paul, Minnesota, was met by about 30 Minnesota State Patrol troopers and did not breach the state capitol. Demonstrators then marched to the governor's residence.[418] The protesters cheered upon learning that rioters in Washington had entered the U.S. Capitol.[419] Protesters in Lincoln, Nebraska, gathered outside the state capitol during the opening of the new session of the Nebraska Legislature.[420] Protesters and counter-protesters demonstrated at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. One brief violent incident was reported.[421] The Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City was the site of another protest. One arrest was made on charges of attempted arson as well as assault and battery for attempting to light other people's flags on fire.[422] The protest numbered in the hundreds and was otherwise peaceful.[423] There were also arrests in Salem after hundreds gathered outside the Oregon State Capitol.[424][425][426] A crowd also formed in Carson City, Nevada.[427] In Indianapolis approximately 100 people, including many members of the Proud Boys, gathered at the Indiana Statehouse; the Indiana crowd was peaceful.[428]

Two Tennessee lawmakers held a prayer rally at Legislative Plaza in Nashville. The crowd numbered roughly 150.[429][430] Protesters in Olympia, Washington, some of whom were armed, made their way onto the front lawn of the Washington Governor's Mansion at the Washington State Capitol Campus.[431][432]

Other U.S. cities

Several hundred protesters met outside the Ahern Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The protest extended onto Las Vegas Boulevard as protesters marched to the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse.[433][434] There were also protests in the Los Angeles area, including at the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, in Beverly Hills and Newport Beach. An incident was reported of a protester spraying a counter-protester with a chemical irritant.[435] During the Los Angeles protests, a mob of 30 to 40 Trump supporters physically assaulted a black woman who was walking down the street, shouting racial slurs and chanting "All Lives Matter" while shoving and striking her and ripping off her hair extensions.[436][437][438]

International

Internationally, Trump's allegations of a "stolen" election found a small audience among conspiracy theorists and fringe groups.[439] In Canada, a few dozen people rallied in support of Trump in Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary.[440] At the Vancouver rally, CBC photojournalist Ben Nelms was assaulted by one of the demonstrators.[441][442][443] In Japan, a few hundred people rallied in support of Trump in Tokyo, with several people carrying the U.S. flag and the Rising Sun Flag, a controversial symbol in Asia due to its association with Japanese imperialism.[439] The gathering in Tokyo was backed by Happy Science, a new religious movement that has been described as a cult, and took place several hours before the rally in Washington, D.C.[439]

See also

References

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