What We Still Don’t Know About The Jan. 6 Capitol Attack

Much of the chaos that unfolded on Jan. 6, 2021, occurred in full public view: A determined President Donald Trump, who had already spent weeks spinning lies in regards to the legitimacy of the presidential election, gathered a few of his most fervent supporters exterior the White House to listen to numerous family and friends members complain in regards to the outcomes earlier than taking the stage himself.

Vice President Mike Pence appeared to haven’t any intention of following Trump’s instruction to disrupt the formal election certification course of that day. Still, Trump described his fever dream to the group, saying, “All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people.” Trump can be “very disappointed” in Pence if he didn’t play alongside. Trump’s supporters, he stated, would “never take back our country with weakness.”

“We’re going to try and give our Republicans ― the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help ― we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country,” Trump stated. He concluded: “So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Five individuals died throughout the melee and its instant aftermath. Key questions stay about what Trump knew that day, and what he did throughout these essential hours when the U.S. Capitol was overrun by his supporters. And past the president, not everybody who instigated or participated within the chaos has been held accountable. News stories and congressional investigations over the previous 12 months have stuffed in among the gaps to assist us perceive extra in regards to the Capitol assault, however there’s nonetheless so much we don’t know.

What was Trump doing all afternoon?

After his speech, Trump was promptly shepherded again to the security of the White House whereas his supporters started the 45-minute trek to Capitol Hill on foot. Some had gotten a head begin. Thousands of individuals attacked the Capitol as a result of they believed it was what the president of the United States needed ― many have been heard shouting as a lot ― all whereas that president was nowhere to be seen for hours.

The House choose committee investigating the assault refers typically to a interval of 187 minutes between the tip of Trump’s speech, at 1:10 p.m., and when he posted a video at 4:17 p.m. politely asking the rioters to go home. (Three different Trump tweets posted in that interval reiterated falsehoods in regards to the election and failed to inform protesters to depart the premises.)

Much of that 187-minute block of time remains to be shrouded in uncertainty.

The management of the congressional committee investigating the occasions of that day revealed this week that they’d firsthand testimony confirming one suspicion: that Trump was watching the riot dwell on tv. As his supporters smashed home windows, broke open doorways and terrorized cops, Trump watched from his personal eating room off of the Oval Office, in line with the committee’s vice chair, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney (R).

We know from an intensive, hour-by-hour report from The Washington Post printed in October that Keith Kellogg, Pence’s nationwide safety adviser, was readily available urging Trump to take motion to cease the assault, however that Trump ignored him. He additionally resisted pleas from his daughter Ivanka, who got here into the eating room at the least twice, in line with Cheney.

Who else did Trump check with that afternoon? What did they are saying?

President Donald Trump reportedly did not talk to many advisers as the Capitol attack played out, choosing instead to watch it on TV in a private dining room.
President Donald Trump reportedly didn’t discuss to many advisers because the Capitol assault performed out, selecting as a substitute to observe it on TV in a non-public eating room.

Tasos Katopodis through Getty Images

We know that Trump spoke to 3 individuals over the cellphone. One was accidentally; Trump meant to name Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), however as a substitute dialed Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). Both males have been huddled in fear of the rioters Trump had sicced on the Capitol, so Lee had solely to move the cellphone over to his colleague, who reportedly acquired an earful from Trump about the necessity to delay the election certification course of. Tuberville hung up to be able to evacuate. Trump additionally talked on the cellphone to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who supposedly urged the president to carry a swift finish to the riot. When McCarthy argued that the rioters have been Trump supporters, not left-wing agitators, the president replied: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” in line with Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who overheard the heated change.

But we nonetheless don’t know what sorts of conversations Trump had along with his chief of employees, Mark Meadows, who prevented the topic in his White House memoir, “The Chief’s Chief,” regardless that paperwork launched by the Jan. 6 committee point out he was flooded with messages from individuals attempting to get in contact with Trump on the time. (Meadows is not cooperating with the Jan. 6 committee.) Trump might have spoken with Jason Miller, a communications aide; The Washington Post report documented tweets instructing the rioters to go home that Miller allegedly drafted however the president didn’t ship. He may additionally have spoken along with his attorneys. One of them, John Eastman, emailed a Pence aide throughout the assault to pin the blame on the vp.

At least one particular person tried to reach the president by means of his TV. Chris Christie referred to as into ABC News the afternoon of Jan. 6 with a message: “It’s pretty simple. The president caused this protest to occur. He’s the only one who can make it stop.”

A trove of National Archives data requested by the Jan. 6 committee will doubtless shine extra mild on every little thing Trump did the day of the riot. But in the intervening time, these paperwork are tied up in courtroom.

Whom did Trump or his employees discuss to exterior of the federal authorities? What did they know?

The Jan. 6 committee revealed this week that members have proof Trump was chatting with Fox News host Sean Hannity earlier than, throughout and after the riot. The panel issued a subpoena for the conservative commentator on Tuesday. The committee chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), alleged in a letter that Hannity had expressed “concerns” and supplied “advice” to Trump and White House employees about their plans for Jan. 6, and “had relevant communications while the riot was underway.”

The letter additionally contained textual content messages Hannity wrote. In one despatched the night of Jan. 5, Hannity wrote that he was “very worried about the next 48 hours.” Given that the certification was set to happen at 1 p.m. the following day ― inside 24 hours ― it stays unclear what Hannity may need been fearful about, precisely.

Was there any coordination between the White House and the Capitol assault organizers? What was the extent of their plan?

Trump supporters have been plotting the occasions of Jan. 6 weeks and even months earlier than it occurred. The indicators have been proper out within the open in addition to on extra obscure websites; individuals from throughout the nation have been coordinating rides to Washington, D.C., on web sites like WildProtest.com and TheDonald.win. They weren’t shy about requires violence, both ― BuzzFeed News discovered “hundreds” of posts discussing bringing firearms to the protest in violation of D.C. gun legal guidelines. The day of the riot, regulation enforcement discovered weapons in vehicles parked exterior the Capitol, and a few protesters introduced firearms inside.

We know that the White House waged a strain marketing campaign to get Pence to assist overturn the election outcomes, which got here to a head on Jan. 6. We know that individuals contained in the White House labored on plans to maintain Trump in energy utilizing the equipment of the federal authorities.

What we don’t know is how a lot White House employees, together with Trump himself, knew about the potential for violence.

While most of the 700-plus individuals who have been federally charged for taking part within the riot seem to have been caught up within the rush of pleasure that day, some have been additionally members of organized far-right extremist teams just like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Was there any coordination between these teams and folks in Trump’s orbit?

It was a Proud Boy, Dominic Pezzola, who smashed the primary window of the Capitol at 2:11 p.m. The first rioters started filtering by means of the following minute.

A quirk of the constructing’s defenses have led some to query whether or not the rioters knew to focus on sure home windows. The overwhelming majority of the Capitol’s 658 single-pane home windows have been strengthened with bomb-resistant glass throughout renovations between 2017 and 2019, in accordance a Los Angeles Times report. Only a couple of dozen weren’t changed, for numerous causes. Video from the assault exhibits among the first rioters to approach the Capitol constructing made “a beeline” for an space with two unreinforced home windows, the Los Angeles Times reported. Did they get fortunate? The outlet famous that not one of the newly strengthened home windows appeared to have shattered ― solely the previous ones.

Chilling Facebook messages despatched to an Oath Keeper who participated within the riot, Thomas Caldwell, additionally raised questions in regards to the extent of protesters’ planning. According to prosecutors, Caldwell acquired messages telling him members of Congress have been utilizing sure tunnels to flee. “Seal them in,” the message allegedly learn. “Turn on the gas.” Court paperwork didn’t title the sender.

A noose hangs from makeshift gallows in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
A noose hangs from makeshift gallows in entrance of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.


Who was behind these pipe bombs? What in regards to the noose?

We nonetheless don’t know the way a pair of pipe bombs ended up on Capitol Hill. On the night of Jan. 5, an unknown particular person carrying a grey hooded sweatshirt, a backpack and black-and-light-grey Nikes with a yellow brand positioned the bombs between 7:30 p.m. and eight:30 p.m. near the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee, respectively, the FBI stated. But the company nonetheless has no suspects.

Were the explosives purported to divert regulation enforcement consideration away from the Capitol constructing?

As Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton testified in May: “If those pipe bombs were intended to be a diversion, it worked.” Several groups of officers left to research the bombs after they have been found on Jan. 6, leaving only a few behind on the Capitol.

Speaking of lethal weapons, we additionally don’t know who constructed the scaffold and noose that was photographed exterior the constructing.

Why wasn’t there a greater regulation enforcement response?

Many threats of violence weren’t taken extra critically as a result of regulation enforcement believed them to be “aspirational” ― as in, nothing anybody would really perform ― and thus protected by the First Amendment proper to free speech, in line with detailed reporting from The Washington Post. The cause why will not be clear.

“This has been one of the most confounding elements of our investigation,” Post reporter Carol Leonnig advised NPR’s Terry Gross. “It’s such a mystery to me because the FBI, after 9/11, was deputized with this exact assignment to watch and monitor extremism and interrupt it before it led to a criminal plot,” she stated, referring to the FBI’s community of “fusion centers” which might be supposed to observe and share intelligence throughout businesses. Numerous the planning messages Leonnig got here throughout mentioned what gave the impression to be clearly criminal activity, comparable to how one can smuggle in weapons and how one can use safe communication strategies after breaking into the Capitol.

“I mean, they did not coordinate,” Leonnig stated of the businesses.

As a backdrop to the Capitol assault, the weeks main as much as it have been among the most tense of the Trump administration. Justice Department officers ― together with individuals answerable for the FBI and the legal professional common’s workplace ― have been on edge questioning whether or not Trump would fireplace their management and throw their establishments into turmoil out of frustration over having misplaced the election.

Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund tried to request National Guard assistance on Jan. 3, however he lacked key details about the extent of the menace and his request was rejected.

Thanks to delays and confusion, round three hours handed between the purpose when protesters breached the Capitol and when regulation enforcement started to get a deal with on the state of affairs. Officials had acknowledged the necessity for National Guard help throughout the first 10 minutes; at 2:22 p.m., D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser requested assist from the National Guard on a name with Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and different regulation enforcement officers, in line with an official document. But the request was not instantly accepted by appearing Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. Law enforcement lastly completed their sweep of the Capitol round eight p.m.

The Washington Post’s investigation underscored earlier stories that some high army leaders have been involved in regards to the optics of getting the National Guard readily available to dam a political protest. Some have been involved that Trump would possibly attempt to use the National Guard for his personal ends.

Military leaders have to date given conflicting accounts of the delay. The Jan. 6 committee will doubtless present extra concrete and substantial solutions in a last report.

What else did Trump do ― or attempt to do ― to forestall Joe Biden from changing into the duly elected president of the United States?

There was additionally a authorized rebellion underway main as much as Jan. 6, and it was simply as harmful to democracy, if not as seen. We know Trump pressured native election officers in at the least one state ― Georgia ― to “find” sufficient votes to tip the scales of the election. We know somebody underneath his thumb, former Attorney General William Barr, issued an uncommon memo to authorize voter fraud investigations earlier than the outcomes have been licensed. We know Trump tried to persuade Barr’s alternative, appearing legal professional common Jeffrey Rosen, to meddle with the election outcomes over baseless claims of voter fraud.

Was there the rest we don’t learn about?

Since Trump’s 2020 loss, Republicans have been working in plain view to stack the deck of their favor. Ahead of future elections, they’ve begun to implement adjustments to how elections proceed in key swing states across the nation, giving partisan officers extra management over elections and making it more durable to vote to start with. They’ve demanded audits that assist forged doubt in voters’ minds in regards to the legitimacy of the democratic course of.

In the aftermath of Jan. 6, maybe the largest unanswered query is simply what we are able to count on in future American elections.


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