While brave and wildly out-numbered law enforcement officers were fighting for their lives in an effort to protect members of Congress from an angry mob intending to mount coup d’etat and his advisers were begging him to act, then-President Donald Trump just sat back and watched it all play out on TV.
“For 187 harrowing minutes, the president watched his supporters attack the Capitol — and resisted pleas to stop them,” said a bombshell Washington Post report on the disgraced former chief executive’s inaction after “Trump had called on his followers to march on the U.S. Capitol.”
“The pro-Trump rioters toppled security barricades. They bludgeoned police. They scaled granite walls. And then they smashed windows and doors to breach the hallowed building that has stood for more than two centuries as the seat of American democracy,” said the report, compiled by Washington Post reporters Jacqueline Alemany, Hannah Allam, Devlin Barrett, Emma Brown, Aaron C. Davis, Josh Dawsey, Peter Hermann, Paul Kane, Ashley Parker, Beth Reinhard, Philip Rucker, Marianna Sotomayor and Rachel Weiner .
“Even as the violence at the Capitol intensified, even after Vice President Mike Pence, his family and hundreds of Congress members and their staffers hid to protect themselves, even after the first two people died and scores of others were assaulted, Trump declined for more than three hours to tell the renegades rioting in his name to stand down and go home,” the story continues.
- Twenty-five minutes into Trump’s silence, a news photographer was dragged down a flight of stairs and thrown over a wall.
- Fifty-two minutes in, a police officer was kicked in the chest and surrounded by a mob.
- Within the first hour, two rioters died as a result of cardiac events.
- Sixty-four minutes in, a rioter paraded a Confederate battle flag through the Capitol.
- Seventy-three minutes in, another police officer was sprayed in the face with chemicals.
- Seventy-eight minutes in, yet another police officer was assaulted with a flagpole.
- Eighty-three minutes in, rioters broke into and began looting the House speaker’s office.
- Ninety-three minutes in, another news photographer was surrounded, pushed down and robbed of a camera.
- Ninety-four minutes in, a rioter was shot and killed.
- One hundred two minutes in, rioters stormed the Senate chamber, stealing papers and posing for photographs around the dais.
- One hundred sixteen minutes in, a fourth police officer was crushed in a doorway and beaten with his own baton.
All in the first two hours.
“Trump watched the attack play out on television and resisted acting, neither to coordinate a federal response nor to instruct his supporters to disperse. He all but abdicated his responsibilities as commander in chief — a president reduced to mere bystander.”
Trump’s assault on American democracy began in the spring of 2020, when he issued a flurry of preemptive attacks on the integrity of the country’s voting systems.
The doubts he cultivated ultimately led to a rampage inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob came within seconds of encountering Vice President Mike Pence, trapped lawmakers and vandalized the home of Congress in the worst desecration of the complex since British forces burned it in 1814.
Five people died in the Jan. 6 attack or in the immediate aftermath, and 140 police officers were assaulted.
The consequences of that day are still coming into focus, but what is already clear is that the insurrection was not a spontaneous act nor an isolated event. It was a battle in a broader war over the truth and over the future of American democracy.
Pennsylvania congressional candidate Teddy Daniels, who mocked police officers injured in the Capitol insurrection, and other far-right January 6th rioters from Wisconsin to New Hampshire are now running to become members of the same legislative body they attacked.
In New Hampshire, Jason Riddle is running for the state’s second congressional district, despite pleading guilty in September to five charges arising from his participation in the failed attempted coup.
In New York, Trump-loving QAnon believer Tina Forte is running an extremely long-shot bid to unseat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic progressive who knocked off a top member of the political establishment in 2018. Forte’s social accounts push potentially dangerous content on Facebook, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), Twitter, and YouTube.
Forte herself attended the Capitol riot, which she livestreamed on Facebook.
Derrick Van Orden, from Wisconsin, was also at the Capitol on January 6 and has been endorsed by Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in his bid to win an open seat in the state’s third congressional district in 2022.
Since then, the forces behind the attack remain potent and growing. Trump emerged emboldened, fortifying his hold on the Republican Party, sustaining his election-fraud lie and driving demands for more restrictive voting laws and investigations of the 2020 results, even though they have been repeatedly affirmed by ballot reviews and the courts.
A deep distrust in the voting process has spread across the country, shaking the foundation on which the American experiment was built — the shared belief that the nation’s leaders are freely and fairly elected.