“Far from a surprise, the insurrection on Wednesday had been in the works for a long time, with support from the president himself. On December 19, he tweeted, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” His supporters took the name Wild Protest, as ProPublica reports, and began publicly planning an occupation. “We came up with the idea to occupy just outside the CAPITOL on Jan 6th,” movement leaders wrote on December 23.
Meanwhile, DC officials had begun tracking incoming bus reservations in the days leading up to Wednesday and realized “this could be a stadium-sized crowd,” one official told the Washington Post. On Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser began warning DC residents to stay away from downtown, the Post reported.
But despite clear warning signs from Trump and his supporters — and the fact that city officials were on high alert — Capitol Police did not prepare for the size or violence of the crowd. Relaying conversations he’d had with police officials, Rep. Ryan told reporters the threat assessment done by law enforcement seriously underestimated the potential threat.”
“Police set up only low barriers around the perimeter of the building and were wearing ordinary uniforms instead of riot gear, the Post noted. As many pointed out, this was in stark contrast to the law enforcement response to Black Lives Matter protests this summer, when members of the National Guard formed an intimidating phalanx outside the Lincoln Memorial, clad in military-style gear.
“Being candid, I think if there were Black people out there, I think there would’ve been a different response in what they did,” Ryan told reporters Thursday.”
“police were unable to prevent rioters from entering the building — or, in some cases, did not even try. One officer appeared to take a selfie with a Trump supporter as the mob roamed the building.”
“even after insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, making abundantly clear the seriousness of the moment, police appeared to let many of them simply leave of their own accord rather than making arrests. That’s in part because there simply weren’t enough personnel on hand to both ensure the safety of members of Congress and make arrests, officials told the Post. Around 52 people had been arrested as of Thursday morning, out of a crowd of thousands that gathered around the Capitol. (The exact number of rioters who entered the Capitol is unclear.)
By contrast, more than 150 people were arrested by Capitol Police after demonstrations against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in October 2018. And last summer, more than 400 people were arrested over the course of a few days in connection with protests against police violence.
In all, officials described an unprecedented failure to plan for and respond to what should have been an entirely predictable event: angry Trump supporters, stoked by the president’s tweets and his speech on Wednesday urging them to “walk down to the Capitol,” descending on the seat of Congress to incite mayhem.”
“It’s not clear why Capitol Police were so unprepared for Wednesday’s obvious threat. The department has not responded to requests for comment from Vox or the Washington Post. In his statement on Thursday, Sund said that the department “had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities. But make no mistake — these mass riots were not First Amendment activities.””
“some speculate that despite repeated public warnings, law enforcement just couldn’t believe Trump supporters would really storm the Capitol. “Would you imagine people were going to break into the Capitol and go into the chambers?” David Carter, director of the Intelligence Program at Michigan State University, remarked to ProPublica. “That failure of imagination sometimes makes us drop the ball.”
Others say that law enforcement might have been trying to use a lighter touch after criticisms of the way the summer’s protests were handled. “I’m pretty sure the Capitol Police were trying to do something a little softer, as we try to welcome protesters up there, but it got out of hand,” Terrance Gainer, former chief of the Capitol Police, said on CNN Thursday.
And while there were a few National Guard troops posted around the city, DC officials had reportedly asked them to maintain a limited presence, not wanting a repeat of the events of the summer, like the gassing of protesters in Lafayette Square, according to the Post.”
“some suggest that perhaps Capitol Police also had little interest in stopping the rioters, some of whom carried pro-police “thin blue line” flags. “The police might have been complicit because many sympathize with President Trump’s cause, or because many of the insurrectionists are the same people that support the ‘blue lives matter’ counter-movement,” Sabrina Karim, a professor of government at Cornell who studies security, said in a statement to media on Wednesday’s events. “They have been supportive of the police, and thus arresting ‘allies’ may not be in the larger interests of the police.”
And while police might have been trying a “softer” approach, it’s impossible to ignore the differences in law enforcement response with protests earlier this year.
On Wednesday, a group of mostly white Trump supporters were allowed to take selfies and roam freely in the Capitol because they falsely believed the election was rigged. This summer, a diverse group of protesters were subject to military-style control when they gathered to demonstrate against police brutality. Especially glaring is the contrast between the intentions of the two groups.
“There was zero intelligence that the Black Lives Matter protesters were going to ‘storm the capitol,’” Washington Attorney General Karl Racine said on CNN Wednesday. “Juxtapose that with what we saw today, with hate groups, militia and other groups that have no respect for the rule of law go into the capitol. … That dichotomy is shocking.”
And as lawmakers investigate what went wrong on Wednesday — and why — the events of the day raise serious questions about the security of the Capitol not just now but in the future, and about what happens the next time Trump decides to whip supporters into a frenzy. With President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration coming up on January 20, those concerns couldn’t be more urgent.”
“On the morning of January 6, first-term Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican chiefly notable for her support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, tweeted that the efforts to overturn the 2020 election results amounted to a new American Revolution.
“Today is 1776,” she wrote.
It turned out that describing Wednesday as a violent revolution was more apt than Boebert may have intended. Several hours later, on the heels of a speech by the president decrying the 2020 election as stolen, a pro-Trump mob descended on the US Capitol, overwhelming Capitol Police and storming the building. Trump supporters waved Confederate flags and seized control of the Senate chambers; police drew their guns. At least four people died as a result of the chaos.
Blaming President Trump for this violence is, at this point, stating the obvious. He has been inciting his supporters for weeks, telling them that the election has been stolen and they need to stand up to save freedom. If you really believe that — took what the president said seriously — why wouldn’t you take dramatic action?
But the blame needs to go beyond Trump and land squarely on the Republican Party itself — an institution that, for decades, employed a political strategy that sowed the seeds of an uprising against the American state.
The animating force of modern Republicanism is this: Democratic Party rule is an existential threat to America and is by definition illegitimate. It is a belief that explains much of what we’ve seen from the GOP in the past few decades, the glue that binds together Republicans ranging from shitposters in the QAnon fever swamps to much of the GOP congressional caucus.”
“their delegitimizing rhetoric has been the fuel of the conservative movement for many, many years now. Trump’s presidency, and the violence with which it is ending, represents the logical next step for the modern GOP — and where it goes from here will determine our future as a democracy.”
“In 2010, during the height of Tea Party fervor, then-Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R-NV) told talk radio host Lars Larson that she believed Americans might need to take up arms against the tyranny of Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress”
“Angle’s story is illuminating. Initially, she ran as an insurgent, casting herself as the rock-ribbed alternative to a weak, corrupt Republican establishment. The party actually tried to stop her, but she was embraced by the GOP once she won the Republican primary in Nevada. The party held a glitzy fundraiser in Washington for Angle several months after the “Second Amendment remedies” comment.
Hardly a relic of the Tea Party era, it’s a story that’s emblematic of the contemporary GOP. The party leadership has created an institution where people like Angle can win primaries; though leaders may resist extremists at times, they end up admitting them as members in good standing when it becomes clear that the choice in a given election is either a right-wing radical or a Democrat. As a result, there’s a one-way ratchet toward an increasingly extreme party, one that has convinced itself over time that Democratic rule is so dangerous that getting in bed with anti-democratic radicals is preferable.
There are at least three critical features of the GOP as an institution that have allowed this process to go on as it has.
First, there is the argument, offered by mainstream Republicans at the highest levels, that freedom itself is on the ballot: that the Democratic agenda is so catastrophic that it might spell the end of America as we know it.”
“This rhetoric might not be so bad if it weren’t for the second prong of the problem: the alternative conservative media ecosystem that disseminates those messages.
From practically the inception of the modern conservative movement in the 1950s, a central tenet has been that the mainstream media is irredeemably biased against them — an agent of liberalism, not to be trusted. The conservative response has been to relentlessly delegitimize the media in their public discourse and to construct alternative media institutions for its base to consume.
This created space for extreme voices who, out of sincere belief or rank opportunism, chose to peddle dangerous falsehoods.”
“If you are a rank-and-file Republican, the kind of person who listens to your party’s elected officials and friendly media outlets, you have been marinating in anti-democratic beliefs for years: that Democrats are fundamentally hostile to the American way of life, that people telling you otherwise cannot be trusted, that you have an obligation to fight against tyranny on your own.
In a 2020 survey, 51 percent of Republicans agreed with the claim that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.””
“The day after President Trump incited a mob to attack the Capitol, he called in to a Republican National Committee winter meeting. The assembled Republicans did not greet the president with horror or anger; instead, he was met with cheers.
Of course, not every Republican is as corrupted as the ones on that call. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) voted for Trump’s impeachment and has gone after him in the day since the attack on Capitol Hill. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has called for a second impeachment after the mob.
But even the “responsible” leaders have often been complicit. Lest we forget, Romney courted Trump’s endorsement during his 2012 presidential run — while Trump was in the midst of his birther crusade against Obama. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), famous for his thumbs-down vote on Trump’s Obamacare repeal proposal, is the man who unleashed Palin on the world by making her his vice presidential pick in 2008.”
“They knew who they were enabling. In 2016, Ted Cruz called Trump “utterly amoral” and a “pathological liar.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) described him as a “race-baiting xenophobic religious bigot.” And Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), in comments that proved prescient, describes him as someone who was inciting violence among his supporters”
“The dangers of Trump were obvious to these men. But they chose to enable him after his victory anyway, much in the way their party chose to embrace Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle and Glenn Beck and all the other extremists who have proven useful to it. The Republican establishment created the conditions for Wednesday’s violence and chaos, and these conditions will persist even if Trump is removed prematurely. QAnon supporters are now sitting in Congress; Newsmax, a more unhinged version of Fox, has only grown in recent months; Trump was greeted by applause by House Republicans Thursday morning.
Just hours after her 1776 tweet, Rep. Boebert tweeted fearfully about the attack on Congress. “We were locked in the House chambers,” she said, as if the chickens weren’t coming home to roost.
But the fact that they don’t really want a violent uprising doesn’t mean their most committed supporters feel the same way. Republicans — not just Donald Trump, but the entire political movement — own that mob. If they do not change course, they will own the next one, too.”
“On Nov. 5, 2020, just days after the election, Vice President Mike Pence offered a classic of the genre. As Trump declared the election stolen, in terms as clear as a fist to the face, Pence tried to take him seriously, not literally; to signal solidarity with Trump’s fury while backing away from the actual claims. “I stand with President @RealDonaldTrump,” he tweeted. “We must count every LEGAL vote.”
But Trump did not want every legal vote counted. He wanted legally counted votes to be erased; he wanted new votes discovered in his favor. He wanted to win, not lose; whatever the cost, whatever the means. And every day since, he has turned up the pressure, leading to the bizarre theory that took hold of Trumpists in recent weeks that the vice president was empowered to accept or reject the results of the election on Jan. 6; that Pence could, single-handedly, right this wrong. And so, after years of loyal service, of daily debasements and constant humiliations, Trump came for Pence, too, declaring him just one more enemy of the people.”
“On Wednesday, at the Capitol, those who took Trump seriously and those who took Trump literally collided in spectacular fashion. Inside the building, a rump of Republican senators, led by Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, were leading a feckless challenge to the Electoral College results. They had no pathway to overturning the results and they knew it. They had no evidence that the results should be overturned and they knew it. And they did not act or speak like they truly believed the election had been stolen. They were there to take Trump’s concerns seriously, not literally, in the hopes that his supporters might become their supporters in 2024.
But at the same time, Trump was telling his supporters that the election had actually been stolen, and that it was up to them to resist. And they took him literally. They did not experience this as performative grievance; they experienced it as a profound assault. They stormed the Capitol, attacked police officers, shattered doors and barriers, looted congressional offices. One woman was shot in the mayhem and died.
If their actions looked like lunacy to you, imagine it from their perspective, from within the epistemic structure in which they live. The president of the United States told them the election had been stolen by the Democratic Party, that they were being denied power and representation they had rightfully won. “I know your pain,” he said, in his video from the White house lawn later on Wednesday. “I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it.” More than a dozen Republican senators, more than 100 Republican House members, and countless conservative media figures had backed Trump’s claims.
If the self-styled revolutionaries were lawless, that was because their leaders told them that the law had already been broken, and in the most profound, irreversible way. If their response was extreme, so too was the crime. If landslide victories can fall to Democratic chicanery, then politics collapses into meaninglessness. How could the thieves be allowed to escape into the night, with full control of the federal government as their prize? A majority of Republicans now believe the election was stolen, and a plurality endorse insurrection as a response. A snap YouGov poll found that 45 percent of Republicans approved of the storming of the Capitol; 43 percent opposed it.”
“The Republican Party that has aided and abetted Trump is all the more contemptible because it fills the press with quotes making certain that we know that it knows better. In a line that will come to define this sordid era (and sordid party), a senior Republican told The Washington Post, “What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change.” What happened on Wednesday in Washington is the downside. Millions of Americans will take you literally. They will not know you are “humoring” the most powerful man in the world. They will feel betrayed and desperate. Some of them will be armed.”
“The problem isn’t those who took Trump at his word from the start. It’s the many, many elected Republicans who took him neither seriously nor literally, but cynically. They have brought this upon themselves — and us.”
““For two months now, a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth — that this was not a particularly close election and that President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20,” Obama wrote. “Their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now, we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo.””
“the sitting president rallied supporters in an effort to change the legitimate outcome of an election, claiming the election was fraudulent and that the “rightful” winner, himself, was being robbed. This means he asserted that U.S. democracy was being overturned.
In the traditions of this country…if democracy is under threat by foreign or domestic forces, violence is justified. Thus, the sitting president justified violence against Congress, then told his strongly believing supporters to go to Congress, directly inciting their violent, illegal, and undemocratic actions.
I don’t know if the president intended this, or if he’s just guilty of negligence. Either way, a sitting president falsely claiming that he won an election and causing a mob of people to overrun Congress while they are confirming that that president lost the election, is an attack on the prestige and stability of the nation, as well as democracy.”
“What happens when political parties reject elections and delegitimize democracy? American history tells us clearly: violence and bloodshed. Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol may seem unprecedented, but it was utterly predictable. On Sunday, I tweeted this thread on how attempts to steal American elections almost inevitably lead to violence, and I drafted much of this essay on Monday. While Wednesday’s violence was foreseeable, the question now is what Congress should do about the national leaders who enabled and inflamed this crisis.
Even after Wednesday’s literal assault on democracy, a significant number of Republicans continue to spread baseless conspiracy theories. Indeed, these members cited the spread of those theories in order to justify their decision to object to Wednesday’s Electoral College count, the precipitating event for all of this madness. As a pro-Trump mob was marching to the Capitol right on cue, Sen. Ted Cruz led the objections, swooning that “39 percent of Americans say the election was rigged. … You might disagree, but it is a profound danger to our democracy.” Yes, Ted Cruz spreading these baseless concerns, and then citing those concerns, is indeed a profound danger to our democracy.”
“federal law makes it a crime to engage “in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof.” Someone who violates this statute faces a fine and up to 10 years in prison.
It’s also worth noting that this law makes it a crime to incite such a rebellion, and violators “shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” Thus, to the extent that a government official was complicit in Wednesday’s riot, they could potentially be stripped of their office.
Second, the law prohibits a “seditious conspiracy” to “overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States” or to “by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States.” Participants in such a conspiracy could face up to 20 years in prison.
Third, federal law provides that “whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States … by force or violence” may face up to 20 years in prison, and may also be stripped of their ability to be employed by the federal government for up to five years.”
“another statute makes it a crime to conspire “to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person … in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” Thus, to the extent that members of Congress were exercising a “privilege” secured to them by the Constitution while they were disrupted by rioters, those rioters could potentially face criminal charges.”
“Members of the pro-Trump insurrection may have also violated several federal statutes intended to protect the peace.”
“Other criminal laws seek to protect the lives and safety of federal officials. Anyone who attempts to kill a member of Congress, for example, faces life in prison. And anyone who assaults a member of Congress may face 10 years in prison if they do so with a dangerous weapon or if “personal injury results.”
Even a relatively minor assault against a federal lawmaker can be punished by a year in prison.
Additionally, the law prohibits a conspiracy to “prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat, any person from accepting or holding any office, trust, or place of confidence under the United States.” As the purpose of the pro-Trump insurrection appears to be to prevent President-elect Biden from holding the office of president, this statute could apply to members of that insurrection.
Violators of this law face up to six years in prison.”
“Other federal laws make it a crime to damage, rob, or unlawfully occupy federal property.”