DemDaily: The Capitol Attack: Aftermath and Accountability

May 20, 2021

January 6, 2021: The newly sworn-in members of the 117th Congress prepared to meet in a joint session of Congress to certify the results of the Electoral College vote electing Joe Biden as our 46th President.

(Lev Radin/Pacific Press)

At the same time, the outgoing President of the United States, Donald Trump, was speaking at a "Stop the Steal" rally. In a 70-minute diatribe, President Trump said, "We will never give up. We will never concede. It will never happen. You don't concede when there's theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore...We will never concede."

He closed by encouraging the dangerous mob of thousands to "go down to the Capitol" and "give our Republicans the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country."

What unfolded after will go down as one of the saddest chapters in American history, as the US Capitol was violently breached for the first time since 1814 - by its own citizens.

January 7, 2021: President-elect Joe Biden addressed the country, condemning the storming of the Capitol as a violent expression of President Trump's refusal to accept defeat, calling it "an assault on the citadel of liberty" calling it "a dark moment" in the nation's history.

(The Economic Times)

"At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite," said Biden, "It's disorder. It's chaos. It borders on sedition and it must end now."

Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called the storming of the Capitol a "failed insurrection" by "thugs, mobs or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation."

"Criminal behavior will never dominate the United States Congress," said McConnell, "The American people deserve nothing less."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who begged Trump to call off the rioters in a heated phone conversation as the insurrection unfolded, said the President "bears responsibility."

(John Minchillo/AP)

The Casualties
Assaulted: 200+
Injured: 138 officers, including 73 Capitol Police and 65 Metropolitan Police injured. 15 were hospitalized.
Dead: Five, including four Trump supporters and one Capitol Hill police officer. Two other officers, distraught by the events, took their own lives within weeks of the attack.

January 13, 2021: The United States House of Representatives impeached President Donald J. Trump, just seven days before the end of his term, for "Incitement of Insurrection."

"Incited by President Trump, a mob unlawfully breached the Capitol, injured law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress and the Vice President, interfered with the Joint Session's solemn constitutional duty to certify the election results, and engaged in violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts."

(Andrew Harnik/AP)

In doing so, stated the Article of Impeachment, Trump "betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States."

McCarthy voted against impeaching Trump, and McConnell, while acknowledging "the mob was provoked by the President," voted not to convict Trump in the subsequent Senate trial.

May 6, 2021
The investigation into the Capitol attack is "unprecedented in scale" and the most complex ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice." Four months after the deadly insurrection:

The Guilty
Arrested: 440+ people have been arrested and charged with crimes, including, at least:

* 125 charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees, including 35 with using a deadly or dangerous weapon.

(BBC)

* 350 charged with entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, including 35 with a dangerous or deadly weapon.
* 30 charged with conspiracy, which alleges they coordinated with others to commit an offense.
* 25 charged with destruction of government property.

The Rioters
* The overwhelming majority were white males over the age of 35.
* They came from at least 45 states outside of Washington, D.C., with the most, so far, from Texas (42), Pennsylvania (36), New York (36) and Florida (34).
* At least 15% had ties to the military or law enforcement.
* 17% were tied to extremist or fringe movements, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Patriot Front, and the Texas Freedom Force.

May 19, 2021: The US House of Representatives voted 252-175 to pass the National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex Act to creates a bipartisan commission to "investigate and report upon the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex."

GOP Leaders McConnell and McCarthy oppose the Commission (Evan Vucci/AP)

The framework of the bill, as agreed to by the top Democrat and Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, gives the Commission specified powers, including the authority to hold hearings, receive evidence, and issue subpoenas. Its final findings and recommendations must be completed and submitted to the President and Congress no later than December 31, 2021.

Although the House version passed with a bipartisan vote, the GOP House and Senate leadership oppose the Commission, now downplaying the attack in an attempt to placate Trump and his voters in advance of the 2022 midterms.

GOP Congressman Peter Meijer (MI), one of the 35 Republicans who voted for the Commission Wednesday, chastised his colleagues for opposing the bill, saying, "There has been an active effort to whitewash and rewrite the shameful events of that day to avoid accountability and turn away from difficult truths."

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) moved to bring the bill to the Senate floor next week. It will take at least 10 GOP votes, however, to overcome a filibuster.

(Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

On Wednesday, in an open but unofficial letter to Members of Congress prior to the vote, US Capitol Police officers condemned GOP leaders for opposing the Commission, saying "it is inconceivable" they would downplay the events of January 6th.

"We would hope that Members whom we took an oath to protect, would at the very minimum support an investigation to get to the bottom of EVERYONE responsible and hold them 100 percent accountable no matter the title of position they hold or held."

The American people deserve nothing less.

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Kimberly Scott
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Sources: US Congress, Department of Justice, Washington Post, CBSNews, NPR, USAToday, CNN, Politico

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