Chaos at the Capitol: The Anniversary of the January 6 Capitol Attack

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On January 6, 2021, millions of Americans watched in horror as a mob consisting of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building to disrupt the counting of electoral votes and protest the assumed win of Joseph R. Biden Jr. A year later, our nation still feels the effects of this catastrophic event, which led to the deaths of five people, not including the two officers who later died by suicide following the riot. On this solemn anniversary, we take a look back at the impact of the Capitol attack with the extensive related content that users can find within HeinOnline.

In particular, we will be utilizing government documents located within our U.S. Congressional Documents, U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library, and U.S. Congressional Serial Set databases, as well as scholarly articles located in our Law Journal Library.

Fanning the Flames

Leading Up to January 6

When considering the events that preceded the Capitol attack, it seems as if it were almost inevitable. Former President Trump, outraged at his projected re-election loss, conveyed to his supporters via social media for weeks that the election was rigged. He filed lawsuits in federal and state courts to contest the results of the election. He enlisted the FBI to investigate election fraud, at one point even threatening Georgia’s Secretary of State to “find” additional votes to change the outcome of the state’s election. He tweeted that he won the election “overwhelmingly” and that Democrats had committed fraud to rig the election, urging his supporters to “FIGHT FOR IT! Don’t let them take it away.”[1]1 7 (January 12, 2021) Materials in Support of H. Res. 24. This report can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library. He even tweeted on December 19 urging fans to come to Washington, D.C. on January 6, the date of electoral certification: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. … Be there, will be wild!”[2]Notices, Opinions, and Orders: Mayor’s Orders, 68 D.C. Reg. 000579 (8). This register can be found in HeinOnline’s Session Laws Library. He followed this up in a tweet on January 1, stating, “The BIG Protest Rally in Washington, D.C. will take place at 11:00 A.M. on January 6th. Locational details to follow. StopTheSteal!”[3]Notices, Opinions, and Orders: Mayor’s Orders, 68 D.C. Reg. 000579 (8). This register can be found in HeinOnline’s Session Laws Library. And so, at Trump’s goading, thousands arrived in D.C. on the morning of January 6 for the “Save America Rally.”

The Morning of January 6

The morning of the riots, Trump continued to tweet about the rigging of the election and urged Mike Pence to reject the Electoral College vote, although Pence did not have the constitutional authority to do so. The rally began around 9:00 a.m., with speakers including Rudy Giuliani[4]Impeachment of President Donald John Trump: The Evidentiary Record: Volume II. Washington, U.S. G.P.O. HeinOnline, https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.congrecdocs/ipdjtevii0001&i=856. This note is located in HeinOnline’s U.S. … Continue reading and Donald Trump Jr. backing Trump’s claims of election fraud, and Trump himself speaking to the crowd for over an hour[5]Impeachment of President Donald John Trump: The Evidentary Record: Volume II. Washington, U.S. G.P.O. HeinOnline, https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.congrecdocs/ipdjtevii0001&i=618. This note is located in HeinOnline’s U.S. … Continue reading about the Democratic “stealing” of the election and his supporters’ duty to “take back our country.”

After his speech, he urged his supporters to walk together down Pennsylvania Avenue, while Mike Pence issued a public letter stating that he would not reject the Electoral College vote.

The Riot

Just after 2 p.m., while Congress joined together to count the Electoral College votes, Trump’s supporters began to break through the Capitol’s security barriers, resulting in a lockdown. Rioters broke into offices, destroyed and stole electronics and government property, vandalized and destroyed art and monuments, brandished the Confederate flag and other extremist materials, and even spread human feces in the hallway.[6]1 12 (January 12, 2021) Materials in Support of H. Res. 24. This report can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library. With rioters armed with guns, metal knuckles, sticks and poles, explosives, and other weapons, it’s not surprising that many were injured and five people were killed during the event, including a Capitol Police officer. Rioters made threats against several Congressmembers, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as well as Mike Pence. Members of Congress were ordered to put on gas masks and shelter in place or were evacuated from the building while the mob raged inside the Capitol building.

However, Trump did not immediately demand an end to the destruction. Rather, he was described by those with him at the time as “borderline enthusiastic”[7]1 12 (January 12, 2021) Materials in Support of H. Res. 24. This report can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library. as he watched the riot unfold on TV. He retweeted a video of the rally, as well as tweeted another condemnation of Mike Pence—while rioters inside the building chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” and continued to threaten Nancy Pelosi. It wasn’t until after 4 p.m., more than two hours later, that Trump finally released a scripted video message asking his supporters to go home. However, the message ended with reassurance that the rioters did the right thing: “We love you, you’re very special.”[8]Ivana Vukcevic, Facebook Oversight Board’s Decision on the Indefinite Suspension of Donald Trump’s Account, 12 UNION U.L. Sch. REV. 295 (2021). This article can be found in HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library. And later that evening, he would tweet that “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…Remember this day forever!”[9]Ivana Vukcevic, Facebook Oversight Board’s Decision on the Indefinite Suspension of Donald Trump’s Account, 12 UNION U.L. Sch. REV. 295 (2021). This article can be found in HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library.

The Aftermath

The Capitol was predicted to have sustained over $30 million in damages. Since the riot, two officers who defended the Capitol have died by suicide, likely from sustained trauma from the attacks. Seven hundred and twenty-five people have been arrested so far. The riot has been labeled a domestic terrorist attack[10]1 1 (January 13, 2021) Domestic Terrorism and the Attack on the U.S. Capitol. This report can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents. goaded by former-President Donald Trump, and directly led to his second impeachment case.

Additionally, in response to the Capitol riots, additional security measures were implemented and current security protocols were reviewed and revised to address the shortcomings that contributed to the attack. A Senate Staff Report[11]Examining the U.S. Capitol Attack: A Review of the Security, Planning, and Response Failures on January 6: Staff Report (2021). This report is located in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents. from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Committee on Rules and Administration titled “Examining the U.S. Capitol Attack: A Review of the Security, Planning and Response Failures on January 6” evaluated the intelligence and security failures that allowed for the attack and provided recommendations to prevent future attacks.

The Second Impeachment of Donald Trump

Following January 6, the House Judiciary put together a comprehensive report[12]PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF THE RESOLUTION (H. RES. 24) IMPEACHING DONALD JOHN TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, FOR HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. Washington, U.S. G.P.O. HeinOnline, … Continue reading summarizing Donald Trump’s responsibility in inciting the Capitol riots in an effort to impeach him for the second time, stating:

“As alleged in the Article of Impeachment and described in this report, President Trump has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. His continued hold on the Office of the Presidency, even for only a few more days, represents a clear and present danger to the United States.”

For more details, visit the House’s Evidentiary Record, split into separate volumes, available in our U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library:

Based on this evidence, with a vote of 232 to 197, the House voted to impeach Trump, making him the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. However, the Senate fell 10 votes short[13]PROCEEDINGS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE IN THE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL OF DONALD JOHN TRUMP VOLUME I-PRELIMINARY AND FLOOR TRIAL PROCEEDINGS. Washington, U.S. G.P.O. HeinOnline, … Continue reading of the two-thirds majority required to convict Trump of inciting insurrection.

You can find all of the Senate proceedings in Trump’s impeachment trial in HeinOnline, broken into four parts:

For outside analysis and critique of the Capitol attack, head on over to the Law Journal Library, where you can find titles such as:

Find All the Facts in HeinOnline

HeinOnline is where you will find tons of trustworthy primary and secondary sources related to the January 6 Capitol attack and so many other historical events. And by subscribing to the HeinOnline Blog, you can see how our bloggers are using these sources to research and learn about all sorts of topics, with blog posts delivered right to your inbox on the day they’re published. Follow along with us as we continue to post about history, content updates, new features, and so much more.

HeinOnline Sources

HeinOnline Sources
1 1 7 (January 12, 2021) Materials in Support of H. Res. 24. This report can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library.
2, 3 Notices, Opinions, and Orders: Mayor’s Orders, 68 D.C. Reg. 000579 (8). This register can be found in HeinOnline’s Session Laws Library.
4 Impeachment of President Donald John Trump: The Evidentiary Record: Volume II. Washington, U.S. G.P.O. HeinOnline, https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.congrecdocs/ipdjtevii0001&i=856. This note is located in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Serial Set.
5 Impeachment of President Donald John Trump: The Evidentary Record: Volume II. Washington, U.S. G.P.O. HeinOnline, https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.congrecdocs/ipdjtevii0001&i=618. This note is located in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Serial Set.
6, 7 1 12 (January 12, 2021) Materials in Support of H. Res. 24. This report can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library.
8, 9 Ivana Vukcevic, Facebook Oversight Board’s Decision on the Indefinite Suspension of Donald Trump’s Account, 12 UNION U.L. Sch. REV. 295 (2021). This article can be found in HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library.
10 1 1 (January 13, 2021) Domestic Terrorism and the Attack on the U.S. Capitol. This report can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents.
11 Examining the U.S. Capitol Attack: A Review of the Security, Planning, and Response Failures on January 6: Staff Report (2021). This report is located in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents.
12 PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF THE RESOLUTION (H. RES. 24) IMPEACHING DONALD JOHN TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, FOR HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. Washington, U.S. G.P.O. HeinOnline, https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.congrecreports/crptxadsw0001&i=1. This report is located in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Serial Set database.
13 PROCEEDINGS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE IN THE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL OF DONALD JOHN TRUMP VOLUME I-PRELIMINARY AND FLOOR TRIAL PROCEEDINGS. Washington, U.S. G.P.O. HeinOnline, https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.congrecdocs/crptdocsxaaph0001&i=1. This report is located HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Serial Set database.
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