Aftermath of the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol

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In the aftermath of the 2021 United States Capitol storming, criminal investigations, public health concerns, and various political repercussions have occurred, most notably the second impeachment of Donald Trump. The riot triggered a nationwide manhunt for the perpetrators by federal law enforcement, with arrests and indictments following within days. The incident led to the resignation of leading figures within the United States Capitol Police (USCP) and the Trump administration. Cabinet officials were pressured by the media and various public figures to invoke the 25th Amendment for removing Trump from office.

People identified as rioters at the Capitol have been subjected to criminal investigations and arrests. Per his involvement in inciting the storming of the Capitol, Trump was suspended from various social media sites, including Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. In response to various posts by Trump supporters on the microblogging site Parler in favor of the riot, insurrection, and attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election, its cloud computing services hosted by Amazon Web Services were terminated by Amazon on January 10.

Public health officials have highlighted the danger of this event in exacerbating the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Security measures were also dramatically increased for the inauguration of Joe Biden as president. This included the deployment of the United States National Guard, with a security perimeter erected around Capitol Hill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the formation of a Commission similar to the 9/11 Commission for investigating the events surrounding the attack on the Capitol.[1]

Background[edit]

A damaged window in one of the rooms in the Capitol

The storming of the United States Capitol was a riot and violent attack against the 117th United States Congress on January 6, 2021, carried out by a mob of supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump in an attempt to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.[2] After attending a political rally hosted by the president, thousands[3] of his supporters marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, with many breaching police perimeters and storming the building in an effort to disrupt the Electoral College vote count formalizing President-elect Joe Biden's election victory.[4][5] The mob subsequently occupied, vandalized,[6][7] and looted[8] parts of the building for several hours, leading to the evacuation and lockdown of the Capitol, as well as five deaths.[9][10][11][12][13]

Criminal investigations and prosecutions[edit]

FBI poster seeking information on violence at the Capitol published January 6, 2021

On January 7, Michael R. Sherwin, the interim United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, said rioters could be charged with seditious conspiracy or insurrection.[14] He said any Capitol Police officer found to have assisted the rioters would be charged,[15] and he further suggested that Trump could be investigated for comments he made to his supporters before they stormed the Capitol and that others who "assisted or facilitated or played some ancillary role" in the events could also be investigated.[14] As of January 14, the majority of charges filed were for disorderly conduct and unlawful entry.[16]

Also on January 7, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said that any rioter who entered the Capitol should be added to the federal No Fly List.[17] Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe and inspector general David C. Williams argued Trump could face criminal charges for inciting the riot.[18]

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said that he is specifically looking at whether to charge Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Mo Brooks with inciting the violent attack on the Capitol, and indicated that he might consider charging Donald Trump when he has left office.[19] Calls for Trump to be prosecuted for inciting the crowd to storm the Capitol also were made in the aftermath of the event.[20] D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said, "We saw an unprecedented attack on our American democracy incited by the United States president. He must be held accountable. His constant and divisive rhetoric led to the abhorrent actions we saw today."[21] Legal experts have stated that charging Trump with incitement would be difficult under Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the Supreme Court ruling which established that for speech to be considered criminally inciting, it must have been intended to incite "imminent lawless action" and "likely to incite or produce such action".[22]

Though the number of people arrested is large enough to defy generalization, at least 17% were tied to extremist or fringe movements,[23] including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and Patriot Front,[24] as well as the Texas Freedom Force.[25] The majority were not affiliated with a specific far-right group and had been more informally radicalized by right-wing Internet, social media, or television.[24][26] At least 15% had ties to the military or law enforcement.[23] About 40% were business owners or white-collar workers; only about 9% were apparently unemployed.[24] A Washington Post review of public records showed that of defendants with enough information to identify financial histories, almost 60% had experienced financial problems over the preceding 20 years.[24] Some 18% had a past bankruptcy (nearly double the rate of the general public), 20% had prior eviction and foreclosure proceedings, 25% had been sued by a creditor for not paying money owed; and others had bad debt, delinquent taxes, or tax liens.[24] Many clearly expressed a belief in the QAnon conspiracy theory.[27] While the majority of those charged were men, 25 women were also charged.[25] Among those whose age was known, the average age was 41 years; the youngest charged was 18, and the oldest was 70.[25] Those who were arrested came from 42 states, with the largest numbers coming from Texas, New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania.[25] At least 27 had previous criminal records;[26] with at least nine having been previously accused of, or convicted of, committing violence against women (including one who had served five years in prison for rape and sexual battery) or had been the subject of domestic violence restraining orders.[28]

On February 10, CNN reported that the FBI, investigating the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, was in the process of narrowing down a list of potential suspects.[29] On February 26, the agency reportedly identified one suspect of focus, according to sources.[30]

Numbers of people involved[edit]

The day after the storming of the Capitol, the FBI and D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department asked the public for help identifying the rioters.[31][32] Within days, members of the public sent the FBI more than 70,000 photo and video tips.[33] One person was harassed after being incorrectly identified as a participant in the riots by members of the public. His personal information had been doxed, and he reported receiving harassing phone calls and posts on social media.[34]

In a press conference on January 12, Steven D'Antuono from the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the agency's expectation to arrest hundreds more in the coming months, as it sorts through the vast amount of evidence submitted by the public. The charge brought against most rioters would likely include accusations of sedition and conspiracy.[35]

On January 8, the Justice Department announced charges against 13 people in connection with the Capitol riot in federal district court; many more have been charged in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.[36][37] The FBI and the Department of Justice were working to track down over 150 people for prosecution by January 11, with the number expected to rise. Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen instructed federal prosecutors to send all cases back to DC for prosecution, in a move that prosecutors across the county found "confounding".[33]

As of January 13, over 50 public sector employees and elected officials and over a dozen Capitol police officers were facing internal investigations to determine their possible complicity in the riot.[38]

Potential legal defense of arrestees[edit]

Several individuals in multiple states that have been arrested for their actions during the Capitol storming and riots have utilized the comments of then President Trump in their legal defenses. Others have stated similar comments to friends and family.[39][40] One arrested rioter was quoted by news sources stating, "I feel like I was basically following my president. I was following what we were called to do."[41] An ABC News investigation found that of about two hundred accused individuals facing federal charges, at least fifteen of them have made statements claiming that they had acted based on Trump's encouragement. One such individual, who also threatened to assassinate Rep. Ocasio Cortez during the riot stated, "I believed I was following the instructions of former President Trump. I also left Washington and started back to Texas immediately after President Trump asked us to go home."[42]

Several others held out for Presidential pardons from Trump prior to him leaving office, such as Jacob Angeli.[43] Albert Watkins, Angeli's lawyer, appeared on CNN in February 2021, and claimed that Angeli and millions of other Americans hung on every word of Trump and that Trump had used "Trump Talk" and propaganda to create the storming of the Capital. He also claimed that while Angeli was in police custody he was going through a process not unlike being deprogrammed from a cult.[44]

A news report from February 2021 reported that at least twenty-nine of the arrested individuals have raised claims that they believed that they were free to enter the Capitol during the riot, as law enforcement officers did not attempt to stop them from entering and never told them they were not allowed to enter the building.[45]

Notable arrests and charges[edit]

Interim United States Attorney Michael R. Sherwin holds a press conference on criminal charges related to the events at the Capitol

As of February 1, 228 people from 39 states and DC have been charged with federal and/or DC offences.[46] By February 24, 268 people had been charged.[47]

January 6[edit]

A 70-year-old resident of Falkville, Alabama,[48] who allegedly parked a pickup truck two blocks from the Capitol containing eleven homemade incendiary devices (described as "Mason jars filled with homemade napalm" intended to "stick to the target and continue to burn" in court filings),[49] a M4 assault rifle, a shotgun, two pistols, a crossbow, a stun gun, and camo smoke canisters, was arrested and charged under a 17-count indictment.[50][51][52] Court documents said that upon being stopped by police, the man "asked officers whether they had located the bombs", and prosecutors also "suggest[ed] an intent to provide [weapons] to others".[50] Authorities also found handwritten notes listing "purported contact information" for Ted Cruz (R), Fox News host Sean Hannity, and radio host Mark Levin, as well as a list of "bad guys" including Seventh Circuit judge David Hamilton and Rep. André Carson (D–IN), who was referred to as "one of two Muslims in the House".[52]

January 7[edit]

The leader of a Proud Boys group in Hawaii was taken into custody.[53]

A man from Colorado was arrested,[48] with prosecutors alleging that he brought a compact Tavor X95 rifle, two handguns, a "vial of injectable testosterone", and about 320 rounds of armor-piercing ammunition. He allegedly texted acquaintances that he was "gonna run that cunt Pelosi over while she chews on her gums" or "[put] a bullet in her noggin on [l]ive TV", that he "may wander over to [D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser]'s office and put a 5.56 in her skull",[54] and that he "predict[s] that within 12 days, many in our country will die", as well as later texting a photo of himself in blackface.[49][51] He had previously protested outside of Georgia governor Brian Kemp's home.[49]

January 8[edit]

A 60-year-old man from Gravette, Arkansas,[48] who was photographed with his feet on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's desk during the storming of the Capitol, was arrested on federal charges of entering and remaining on restricted grounds, violent entry, and theft of public property.[55][56][57][58] He was extradited to DC to face trial and jailed by federal judge Beryl Howell on January 28.[36][59][60][61]

A 36-year-old man from Parrish, Florida,[48] who was photographed carrying a lectern from Nancy Pelosi's office, was arrested[62][63][64] and charged with entering a restricted building, stealing government property, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. The Miami Herald reported he had posted on social media comments that "disparaged the Black Lives Matter movement" and police "who defend First Amendment protected rights".[65]

A 34-year-old man from Boise, Idaho, photographed hanging from the Senate balcony during the rampage, was listed as a person of interest by the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia;[66][67][68] he deleted his social media accounts following the riots, and issued an apology.[66]

January 9[edit]

Jake Angeli,[48] also known as the "QAnon Shaman" and pictured in many widely shared photos shirtless, wearing facepaint and a horned fur headdress, and carrying a spear, was arrested and charged with one count of entering a restricted building and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct.[36] Angeli's lawyer claimed that Angeli believed himself to have acted "at the invitation of our president," since Trump had stated at the rally that he would accompany protesters to the Capitol (though he ultimately did not), and that Trump therefore ought to pardon Angeli directly.[69] In a January 14 court filing, federal prosecutors sought to keep Angeli in detention, alleging that his participation in the riot was part of a failed plot "to capture and assassinate elected officials."[70]

Another man seen in video aggressively leading a mob up the stairs to the second floor of the Capitol was arrested by the FBI.[36]

January 10[edit]

Two men seen carrying plastic handcuffs as they moved through the Capitol were arrested. The first man, a 53-year-old retired Air Force lieutenant colonel from Grapevine, Texas,[48] was wearing a tactical vest and a green combat helmet, and had previously identified himself to The New Yorker and claimed he "found the zip-tie handcuffs on the floor". He was charged with one count of entering a restricted building and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct. The second man, aged 30,[48] was pictured in a black cap and holding a fistful of zip ties as he jumped over railing in the Senate gallery. He attended the riot with his mother. He told the Sunday Times the Capitol storming "was a kind of flexing of muscles" and that "the point of getting inside the building is to show them that we can, and we will." He was arrested in Tennessee and charged with the same crimes.[71]

A man who was arrested on January 6 and charged with "entering the United States Capitol Grounds against the will of the United States Capitol Police" committed suicide at his home in Alpharetta, Georgia.[72]

January 12[edit]

The 34-year-old son of a Kings County Supreme Court judge was arrested in Brooklyn; he had been seen carrying a Capitol Police riot shield and also told the New York Post "the election was stolen".[73]

A retired Navy SEAL and the director of firearms training business ATG Worldwide, who posted a Facebook video on January 6 in which he described "breaching the Capitol", was questioned by the FBI. On January 12, the ATG Facebook page shared a video message from the man in which he described having participated in a "caravan" to the Capitol on January 6 because he was "angry at the direction of our country."[74] He has expressed regret for his participation and said he is cooperating with the FBI.[75]

January 13[edit]

A 56-year-old man was arrested in Newport News, Virginia, and charged with unlawful entry and disrupting government business.[54][76] He had been photographed in a sweatshirt with the anti-Semitic words "Camp Auschwitz", a "death's head" insignia, and the slogan "work sets you free", a phrase notoriously placed at the entrances of a number of Nazi concentration camps.[77] He has been described as a long-time extremist who wore the sweatshirt regularly.[78] Footage of him caused worldwide outrage,[79][80] as the shirt he was wearing was the most overt sign of antisemitism seen inside the Capitol during the riot.[81][82] The International Auschwitz Committee, and survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp around the world, welcomed the arrest; Christoph Heubner, the committee's executive director, said that in recent days the man had become the symbol of a political subculture "that glorifies Auschwitz ever more openly and aggressively and propagates the repetition of Auschwitz."[81][83]

Two police officers belonging to Virginia's Rocky Mount Police Department allegedly attended the riot off-duty and posted a picture of themselves inside the Capitol on social media, writing they were "willing to actually put skin in the game and stand up for their rights".[54] They were charged with disorderly conduct and entering a restricted space.

January 14[edit]

A man from Laurel, Delaware who was photographed carrying the Confederate battle flag through the Ohio Clock corridor and past a portrait of abolitionist Charles Sumner was arrested along with his son. The FBI had previously included him in a public list of wanted people.[36][84]

John Earle Sullivan, the founder of anti-police brutality and pro-racial justice group Insurgence USA, was arrested briefly before being released. He was charged over the content in his videos where he appears to encourage the rioters and excitedly celebrating them advancing through the Capitol. He had previously claimed that he was there to document the actions of the protestors, stating that he was only pretending to be a participant to blend in. Right-wingers like Rudy Giuliani and Mo Brooks seized upon his arrest to amplify claims about the involvement of the left in the riot. Despite being called a Black Lives Matter activist and left-wing activist, Black Lives Matter-Utah has denied he is a member, and some left-wing activists have treated him with suspicion in the past due to him stirring trouble and his brother being a pro-Trump activist.[85][86] The arrest document stated he had made a statement outside the Capitol about "burning this shit down" and "ripping Trump out of office" during a speech he made in August 2020 while pointing to the White House.[87][88]

Klete Keller, a former Olympic gold medalist swimmer, turned himself in to officials. He was charged with obstructing law enforcement engaged in official duties incident to civil disorder, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. He was identified by his height, 6 ft 6 in (198 cm), and by wearing an official US Olympic team jacket without obscuring his face.[89][90]

January 15[edit]

Far-right activist Tim "Baked Alaska" Gionet was arrested by the FBI in Houston, Texas. He is facing charges of violent and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds and knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority.[91][92]

A 43-year-old man from Rochester, New York was charged with illegally entering a restricted building, obstruction of an official proceeding and destruction of government property. A widely circulated video appears to show him using a riot shield to break one of the windows in the Capitol. After the event, he allegedly stated he "would have killed anyone they got their hands on, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Michael Pence".[93] He had previously been seen at Proud Boys protests and is an ex-marine.[94]

January 16[edit]

A 42-year-old man from Coxs Creek, Kentucky, accused of breaking the window that Ashli Babbit tried climbing through before being shot, was arrested in Louisville charged with assaulting a federal officer, destroying government property worth over $1000, unlawfully entering a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct.[95] Per the affidavit, he is seen in a video wearing a gray sock cap and a jacket with a red hood, striking at the window with a wooden flagpole.[96] A relative identified him to the FBI, stating that he had gone to a Trump rally in Washington, D.C. in the past too and learnt of his plans for travel through Facebook. The affidavit also states the man admitted to a friend on January 7 that he had broken a window.[97]

January 17[edit]

Jon Schaffer, co-founder and guitarist of the heavy metal band Iced Earth, surrendered to the FBI in Indianapolis, Indiana. Schaffer is facing six charges related to the Capitol storming and is accused being engaged in acts of physical violence in the building and of being part of a group of people that sprayed bear repellent on Capitol Police officers.[98][99] In the days following January 6, Schaffer was identified by music websites as possibly having been inside the building.[100] The other members of Iced Earth issued a statement on January 10 denouncing the storming of the Capitol.[101] Following Schaffer's arrest, Century Media Records removed both Iced Earth and Schaffer's side-project band Demons & Wizards from the roster section of their website and removed both groups' merchandise from their online store, but no official announcement was made that the bands had been dropped from the record label.[102]

January 18[edit]

A 22-year-old woman from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania[103][104] was accused of stealing a laptop from Nancy Pelosi's office, with the intent of selling its contents to the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia, the country's main spy agency. According to her former partner, the deal did not happen for unnamed reasons, and she may still have the laptop. She has been charged with illegally entering the Capitol and disorderly conduct, but not theft.[105] The FBI is investigating the claims. Pelosi's chief of staff, Drew Hammill, tweeted that "a laptop that was only used for presentations" was taken from a conference room during the Capitol siege.[106] The woman fled her home, telling her mother "she would be gone for a couple of weeks", changed her telephone number, and removed all of her social media accounts.[107] On January 18, she surrendered to authorities in Pennsylvania, facing two misdemeanor charges.[108] In an affidavit updated January 19, she was additionally charged with two felonies. On January 21, she was released from custody to live with her mother while awaiting trial.[109]

January 19[edit]

Three alleged members of Oath Keepers were indicted for conspiracy for planning their activities. Eight to ten members of the group entered the Capitol wearing paramilitary gear and moving "in an organized and practiced fashion", according to the indictment. The group communicated with portable devices, with one member allegedly receiving a Facebook message reading "All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas." That same person allegedly received directions in navigating the Capitol, including "Tom all legislators are down in the Tunnels 3floors down" and "Go through back house chamber doors facing N left down hallway down steps." One alleged participant radioed to others, "We have a good group. We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan."[110][111][112]

January 24[edit]

In a court filing, federal prosecutors asserted that evidence showed a Nashville man engaged in "obstructing Congress, interstate travel in furtherance of rioting activity, sedition and other offenses." The man had been photographed in the Senate gallery with white plastic handcuffs and a Taser. Federal judge Beryl Howell reversed a previous lower court decision that granted conditional release and ordered him to be transferred to Washington for further hearings.[113]

January 25[edit]

Brandon Straka, a 45-year-old man who was the founder of the WalkAway campaign, was arrested in Omaha, Nebraska by the FBI and faces three charges in connection with the Capitol storming.[114] The FBI was sent multiple screenshots from the person's Twitter account, which both endorsed the storming and described his involvement with it, including a video in which he encouraged other rioters to take a shield from a police officer.[114]

January 29[edit]

Two members of Proud Boys were indicted on federal conspiracy and other charges.[115][116] Additionally, the FBI arrested two women in Pennsylvania. One of the women, Dawn Bancroft, made threats to shoot House Speaker Pelosi.[117]

February 25[edit]

Actor Luke Coffee, who had appeared on such TV series as Friday Night Lights and Las Vegas,[118] was taken into custody in Dallas[119] on charges that include allegedly assaulting police officers with a crutch.[120] The delay in his apprehension was due to him hiding out for six weeks at a luxury resort in the Texas Hill Country whose owner was sympathetic to the rioters and described them on social media as being victims of a media smear campaign.[121]

March 5[edit]

A former U.S. State Department official who had been appointed during the Trump administration was arrested and charged in federal court with six counts of assault, unlawfully entering the Capitol grounds, and obstruction of law enforcement and Congress. This made him the first known Trump administration official to be tried in relation to the events of January 6. According to his arrest affidavit, the suspect allegedly fought a line of police officers and used a police-issued riot shield to wedge an entrance open for other rioters.[122]

Other investigations[edit]

Crowdsourced investigations[edit]

Wired magazine has reported that numerous crowdsourced open-source intelligence efforts at tracking participants in the storming were underway, including an investigation by the investigative journalism network Bellingcat and the open source intelligence database Intelligence X.[123][124] According to Gizmodo, almost the entire contents of the Alt-tech social media site Parler have been archived online, including large numbers of photos and video with GPS metadata, and that analysis of the GPS coordinates suggested that numerous Parler users had been involved in the storming of the Capitol.[125]

Congressional investigations[edit]

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said an investigation is underway looking at "potentially members of Congress" who gave tours to pro-Trump rioters prior to the insurrection last week on the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) claimed during a Facebook Live broadcast Tuesday evening that some Republicans in Congress had given groups a "reconnaissance" tour of the Capitol ahead of the insurrection. Sherrill's allegations came the same night that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) addressed constituents on an Instagram Live video expressing her fear that some of her Republican colleagues would have disclosed her location during the insurrection on Jan. 6.[126]

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi touched upon the investigations in a speech on January 15, stating that "if, in fact, it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection, if they aided and abetted the crime, there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecution for that."[127]

Department of Defense investigation[edit]

In a letter to acting U.S. Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller on January 11, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) asked the Department of Defense to investigate the role of active or retired members of the U.S. military in the attack and for any people identified to be held accountable.[128] Representatives Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Sara Jacobs (D-CA) also called on Miller to work alongside federal authorities to identify members of the military involved in the riot.[128]

After the Capitol siege, the Defense Department intensified efforts to root out far-right extremism among military personnel.[129] In 2020, the FBI notified the Defense Department that it had initiated criminal investigations involving 68 military personnel (many retired or discharged) associated with domestic extremism.[129] The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, enacted by Congress shortly before the attack on the Capitol, directed the Defense Department to create a deputy inspector general for diversity and inclusion and supremacist, extremism and criminal gang activity (within the DOD office of inspector general) and to keep track of gang and extremist activity in the military.[129] Miller directed a strengthening of military policy against service personnel participating in extremist or hate groups,[129][130] an issue to be addressed as part of a wider Defense Department report due on March 31, with a plan of action due on June 30.[130]

New York State Bar Association investigation[edit]

On January 11, the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) announced that it has launched an inquiry into Giuliani for his role in the uprising, which could subject him to expulsion from the association and recommendation for disbarment if he is held liable.[131][132] Giuliani had addressed the crowd before it marched towards the Capitol, saying evidence that the election had been stolen was plentiful and proposing "let's have trial by combat".[133]

Investigations by workplaces of people involved[edit]

Multiple people involved in the riot have been investigated by their workplaces, with some being fired for their participation, as some businesses were identified by social media users who called for negative reviews and comments to be posted or the establishments to be boycotted.

Most businesses who have done so are private businesses, as those who work for the government and unionized workers hold more protections from firing.[134][135] The earliest report of participants being fired was a Maryland man identified in several highly publicized pictures, wearing his work ID badge and fired from his position the next day.[136]

Following the riot, the police departments of Anne Arundel County, Maryland; New York City; Philadelphia; Rocky Mount, Virginia; San Antonio, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Troy, New Hampshire; and Zelienople, Pennsylvania; the Kentucky State Police; the SEPTA Transit Police; and the sheriff's departments of Charles County, Maryland, Bexar County, Texas and Franklin County, Kentucky, all investigated, reassigned or suspended officers for their involvement in the invasion of the Capitol or the preceding events.[137][138] Other law enforcement officers were investigated for making statements in support of the rally and riot.[138]

Investigations into alleged foreign involvement and payments[edit]

On December 8, 2020, a French national gave around $500,000 in bitcoin payments to alt-right figures and groups. About half of these funds went to Nick Fuentes, the leader of the online Groyper Army, who denied breaching the building. The day after the transfer, the Frenchman killed himself.[139] The FBI is investigating whether any of this money financed illegal acts.[140]

The FBI is also investigating whether foreign adversaries of the U.S. – governments, organizations or individuals – provided financial support to people who attacked the Capitol.[140]

Separately, a joint threat assessment issued by the FBI, DHS, and other agencies said that "Russian, Iranian, and Chinese influence actors have seized the opportunity to amplify narratives in furtherance of their policy interest amid the presidential transition" and that these governments, through state actors, state media, and their proxies, used the riots to promote violence and extremism in the United States, denigrate American democracy, and in some instance promote conspiratorial claims.[140]

January 6, 2021 Commission[edit]

Pelosi announced there will be a Commission on the events surrounding the attack on the Capitol. It will be structured similar to the 9/11 Commission, but will not be composed of members of Congress.[1]

Cultural influences[edit]

As of February 2021, the FBI and Justice Department were investigating the possible influences that prominent figures like Trump confidant Roger Stone and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones may have had on the rioters. However, it was not yet clear if Stone and Jones would be criminally charged.[141]

By the end of February, CNN was aware of "nearly a dozen" defendants who admitted that, to their knowledge, the other Capitol rioters were all Trump supporters and that the riot had not been (as Trump's lawyers and some congressional Republicans had attempted to claim) a left-wing "false-flag" performance to pin blame on Trump supporters.[142] On March 2, FBI Director Chris Wray testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that there was no evidence that the rioters had been faking their support for Trump.[143]

Criticism of law enforcement agencies[edit]

Capitol Police[edit]

Pro-Trump protesters around the Capitol on the evening of January 6

Law enforcement's failure to prevent the mob from breaching the Capitol attracted scrutiny to the Capitol Police and other police agencies involved.[144][145][146] The Capitol Police, which has jurisdiction over an area of around two square miles, is one of the largest and best-funded police forces in the United States, with around 2,000 officers, an annual budget of more than $460 million, access to a substantial arsenal, and extensive experience of responding to protests and high-profile events; it has more than tripled in size since 1996.[147] Prior to the storming of the Capitol, the barriers erected were low and most officers were in regular uniforms rather than riot gear, aimed at managing a protest rather than deterring an attack.[146] Policing experts criticized the Capitol Police's preparation and initial response, saying the agency had underestimated the potential threat from Trump supporters, unwisely allowed rioters to gather on the Capitol steps, and failed to immediately arrest the rioters, or otherwise respond to the disorder, after the forced entry.[146]

The Washington Post reported that the Capitol Police were caught off guard by an overwhelming crowd whose size more than doubled the FBI's prediction and that the police lacked enough personnel to immediately detain all the intruders; the Post further noted that "some officers were captured on video appearing to stand back as rioters streamed inside."[146][148] Some of the shortfall in staffing was attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, with officers who were quarantined after being infected with or exposed to the COVID-19 virus.[146] Police units were not asked by management to bring protective equipment (such as gas masks) that were issued to them, which left officers ill-prepared to fend off the rioters – among them, a "heavily trained group of militia terrorists" armed with bear spray and stun grenades and equipped with two-way radios and earpieces – and some having to resort to engaging in hand-to-hand combat to defend themselves.[149]

Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who chairs a committee responsible for Capitol security, said Capitol Police chief Steven Sund lied to her before the event about the preparations he had made and the readiness of the National Guard.[150] Representative Maxine Waters said she had raised concerns with Sund on December 31, and was assured by him that "he had it under control".[151] Representative Tim Ryan (D–OH), the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch (which has budgetary authority over the Capitol Police), announced that he would begin an inquiry into security lapses that allowed the violent mob to overrun the Capitol and breach the legislative chambers. Ryan indicated that he expected some officers in the Capitol Police to be fired, and cited a "lack of professional planning and dealing" and "strategic mistakes" ahead of "the insurrection and the attempted coup".[152] Representative Anthony G. Brown (D–MD) called for the establishment of a civilian oversight board for the Capitol Police.[153] On the January 7 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough excoriated the Capitol Police response and accused some officers of enabling the rioters to successfully breach the building with little resistance.[154]

Politico reported some rioters briefly showing their police badges or military identification to law enforcement as they approached the Capitol, expecting therefore to be let inside; a Capitol Police officer told BuzzFeed News that one rioter told him "[w]e're doing this for you" as he flashed a badge.[155] Ed Davis, the former commissioner of the Boston Police Department, suggested Capitol Police leaders may have felt "that well, these are a bunch of conservatives, they're not going to do anything like [the ensuing riot]", leading to "a lack of urgency or a sense that this could never happen with this crowd".[156]

The first public hearing on the security failures was held before the Senate on February 23, 2021.[157]

Accusations of member involvement in riot[edit]

Footage emerged on social media of police allowing rioters through barricades into the Capitol, and one officer was filmed taking a "selfie" with a rioter inside the building.[158][159][160] Footage also showed two Capitol Police officers exchanging a handshake and an elbow bump with a rioter inside the Capitol.[161] Representative Jim Cooper (D–TN) was concerned that Capitol Police could have been complicit in the breach, saying "At worst, [Capitol Police] let this protest proceed unlike any other".[162] One participant in the riot said he and his friends had been given directions to the office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer by a Capitol Police officer.[163][153] Representative Pramila Jayapal (D–WA) said she believed the rioters were aided in planning, and guided once inside the Capitol, by Capitol Police officers.[153] Multiple European security officials, including two intelligence officials from NATO member countries, in interviews with Business Insider suggested the breach may have been abetted by "tacit support" of the attackers among members of Capitol Police and other federal agencies assisting with Capitol complex security.[164]

National Guard[edit]

In a letter to acting U.S. Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller on January 11, Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) described the speed with which the District of Columbia National Guard responded to the riot as "totally inadequate", said "serious questions must be answered regarding the ... readiness of our Armed Forces and federal agencies" to respond to similar events, and called on Miller to explain how the Department of Defense could ensure a "significantly faster" deployment in the event of future emergencies at the Capitol.[128]

Testifying before Congress in March 2021, commanding officer of the District of Columbia National Guard William Walker stated his superiors did not grant him authorization to deploy forces for more than three hours after he had sought it upon the “frantic” request of Capitol Police chief Steven Sund. Walker testified that his superiors expressed concerns about the “optics” of a deployment, noting they had not expressed similar concerns about the quick and aggressive deployment during the George Floyd protests months earlier.[165]

Accusations of differential treatment[edit]

Police officers before the storming

News outlets fact-checked[166] and described harsher tactics and differential treatment of racial injustice protests in D.C. during the prior summer by law enforcement compared to those used against the protesters who stormed the Capitol, although admittedly with missing context.[167][168][169][170] According to CNN, police had arrested 61 people on the day of the storming; eclipsing all but one day of protests the previous summer, where 316 Black Lives Matter protesters were arrested on June 1, 2020.[171] Protesters who were arrested after the storming tended to be charged with less serious crimes than those arrested in racial injustice protests.[171][172]

The tone, vocabulary, and tactics used by Trump and the White House were highlighted by news outlets. Trump referred to racial injustice protesters as "thugs", "agitators", and "looters" and threatened violence,[173] but expressed his "love" for the Capitol protesters.[174] In 2020, Trump had encouraged states' governors to more aggressively target protesters and used violent rhetoric such as "when the looting starts, the shooting starts".[173] News outlets noted how the White House had used forceful tactics to clear protesters for Trump's photo op at St. John's Episcopal Church but did not employ similar tactics during the Capitol protest.[170][172][175] Similarly, Capitol Police responded aggressively to disabled protesters associated with ADAPT in 2017.[173] During 2020, Trump ordered tough federal law enforcement responses to racial injustice protesters in Washington DC.[166]

Multiple media outlets covered posts from users on social media which made claims that due to white privilege[173] and male privilege,[169] the police treated the protesters, who were mostly white men,[176][177][178][179] with more leniency than they would people of color,[180] with many citing a moment when a police officer took a selfie with a protester.[181]

Many news outlets, including CNN,[182] USA Today,[183] The Guardian,[170] The Washington Post,[184] and CBS News,[185] criticized the police response to the storming of the Capitol in contrast to the police response to the Black Lives Matter protests in the previous year. In June 2020, during Black Lives Matter demonstrations, 5,000 National Guard members guarded the White House;[170] however, in an attempt to avoid inflaming tensions since those protests, Mayor Muriel Bowser opted not to call National Guard members from other states for the January 6 demonstrations, causing the law enforcement presence to be "relatively small" and "not prepared for rioters".[186][187]

Politicians and officials commented on the differential treatment as well. Joe Biden said, "No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, there wouldn't have been – they would have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol".[175] Representative Tim Ryan, former First Lady Michelle Obama, and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine all noted the differential treatment.[175][152] Representative Bennie Thompson (D–MS), the chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said "if the 'protesters' were Black they would have been shot with rubber bullets, tear gassed, and killed".[153] Citing disparities in the use of force when compared to recent Black Lives Matter protests, first-year Representative Jamaal Bowman (D–NY) proposed legislation to investigate whether members of the Capitol Police have ties to white supremacist groups.[188]

Investigations[edit]

On January 8, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee launched a joint investigation into the Capitol Police's security failures.[189] The law enforcement failures that allowed the storming of the Capitol led the U.S. Secret Service to initiate a review of its security plans for the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.[146]

On January 11, Representative Ryan disclosed that two Capitol police officers had been suspended and at least ten were under investigation following the events of the riot.[190] In February 2021, the number was updated to thirty-five officers that were under investigation; six officers who were suspended with pay, and twenty-nine that were still working.[191]

Resignations[edit]

Ken Cuccinelli, acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, touring the Capitol after the attack to survey damage

The day after the attack, Pelosi called upon Capitol Police chief Steven Sund to resign, citing a failure of leadership, and said she had been unable to reach Sund since the attack.[192] That day, Sund wrote to the Capitol Police Board saying he would resign effective January 16,[193][150][194] but the next day, January 8, Sund resigned with immediate effect.[194] Yogananda D. Pittman became acting chief.[195]

Also on the day after the attack, Paul D. Irving announced his resignation as Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives. Chuck Schumer said he would fire Michael C. Stenger, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate, upon becoming majority leader later in January.[150] Shortly thereafter, outgoing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for and received Stenger's resignation, effective immediately.[150]

Trump administration resignations[edit]

After the January 6th storming of the US Capitol dozens of Republicans and staffers loyal to or appointed by President Trump resigned in disgust, even though their terms in office would expire fourteen days later with the inauguration of President Biden. Some senior officials, however, decided against resigning in order to ensure an "orderly transition of power" to the incoming Biden administration, out of concern that Trump would replace them with loyalist lower-level staffers who they feared could carry out illegal orders given by him.[196] For a complete list of resigantions and firings in the Trump Administration, see List of Trump administration dismissals and resignations.

  1. Rob Jentgens (R) Chief Financial Officer of the National Republican Congressional Committee, abruptly resigned his position the day after the rallies when House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and most of the GOP voted not to certify the 2020 election results.[197]
  2. Matthew Pottinger, the Deputy National Security Advisor (United States)[198]
  3. Stephanie Grisham, the chief of staff for First Lady Melania Trump
  4. Sarah Matthews, the White House Deputy Press Secretary
  5. Anna Cristina Niceta Lloyd "Rickie", White House Social Secretary resigned in protest on the day of the storming of the Capitol.[199][200][201]
  6. Robert C. O'Brien, National Security Advisor (United States)
  7. Chris Liddell, White House Deputy Chief of Staff[202]
  8. Elaine Chao, United States Secretary of Transportation became the first cabinet member to announce her resignation, effective January 11.[203]
  9. Betsy DeVos, United States Secretary of Education also cited the Capitol Hill incident.[204] US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) criticized DeVos and Chao for resigning rather than voting to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.[205]
  10. Elinore F. McCance-Katz ( ) Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Resources (HUD)
  11. Jim Clyburn (D–SC) and House Majority Whip[citation needed]
  12. Mick Mulvaney, Trump's former chief of staff and the administration's special envoy to Northern Ireland. Upon his exit, Mulvaney said, "I can't do it. I can't stay ... Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they're worried the President might put someone worse in." He also said Trump "wasn't the same as he was eight months ago."[206]
  13. Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division[206][207]
  14. Chad Wolf Acting United States Secretary of Homeland Security resigned on January 11, saying it was "warranted by recent events, including" recent court decisions ruling that Trump's appointment of Wolf as acting secretary violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998.[208]
  15. Alex Azar, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services announced his resignation January 15, stating that it was due to the Capitol riots and stressing the need for a peaceful transfer of power. However, this resignation would only become effective starting January 20, the day President-elect Biden would be sworn in as president.[209]
  16. Jason Schmid, Senior GOP aide on the House Armed Services Committee[210]
  17. Eric S. Dreiband (R) Assistant Attorney General
  18. Tyler B. Goodspeed (R) Acting Chairman of the White House Counsel of Economic Advisors
  19. John Costello ( ) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Security in the Commerce Department

Five senior officials at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) resigned in protest.[211]

  1. Arjun Garg ( ) Acting Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administrator,
  2. Brianna Manzelli, assistant administrator for communications;
  3. Kirk Shaffer, associate administrator for airports;
  4. Bailey Edwards, assistant administrator for policy, international affairs and environment
  5. Andrew Giacini, governmental affairs adviser, performing the duties of the assistant administrator for government and industry affairs

Three members of the National Security council resigned prematurely.

  1. Robert C. O'Brien (R) Deputy National Security Adviser[212]
  2. Matthew Pottinger (R) Deputy Adviser to the National Security Council[213]
  3. Ryan Tully ( ) Senior Director on Russian an European Affairs for the National Security Council [214]

Proposals to remove Trump via constitutional processes[edit]

Calls for resignation, invocation of 25th Amendment, or removal from office[edit]

Representative Adam Kinzinger (Illinois's 16th district) became the first Republican lawmaker to call for Trump to be removed via 25th Amendment.[215]

The Democratic leaders in Congress – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi – called upon Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, indicating that they would pursue impeachment of Trump for a second time if he did not.[216][217] Pelosi said Trump "incited an armed insurrection against America" and instigated "the gleeful desecration of the U.S. Capitol [and] violence targeting Congress".[218] The never-before-invoked provision of the 25th Amendment allows the vice president, with a majority of Cabinet secretaries, to declare Trump "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" by written declaration.[219][220]

After the storming of the Capitol, the vast majority of House Democrats (208 Representatives), as well as 38 Democratic Senators, called for the invocation of the 25th Amendment or Trump's impeachment and removal from office in inciting the riot.[221][a] A single House Republican, Representative Adam Kinzinger (IL), also called for Trump's removal.[221] Among Senate Republicans, only three expressed support for Trump resigning or being removed from office: Lisa Murkowski (AK), Ben Sasse (NE) and Pat Toomey (PA).[b] President-elect Biden did not take a position on a prospective fast-track impeachment of Trump, saying the matter is for Congress to decide.[226]

Among Democratic governors, calls for Trump to step down or be removed from office were made by J. B. Pritzker (IL),[227][228] Andrew Cuomo (NY),[229] Roy Cooper (NC),[230] and Jay Inslee (WA).[231] Three Republican governors who have been critical of Trump – Phil Scott (VT), Charlie Baker (MA), and Larry Hogan (MD) – also called upon Trump to resign or be removed from office.[232] Conversely, two other Republican governors expressed opposition to Trump's removal: Henry McMaster (SC), who is closely allied with Trump,[233] and Mike DeWine (OH), who opposed invocation of the 25th Amendment, saying that he believed it "would cause more division than healing" and because there were less than two weeks remaining in Trump's term.[234]

Yoni Appelbaum of The Atlantic called for the impeachment of Trump a second time.[235] Several conservative commentators, including Rod Dreher, Daniel Larison, and John Podhoretz, expressed their support for the impeachment and removal of Trump.[236][237][238] The conservative editorial board of The Wall Street Journal wrote that Trump's behavior in the incident "crosses a constitutional line that Mr. Trump hasn't previously crossed. It is impeachable" and that the "best outcome would be for him to resign."[239] Calling the armed storming of the Capitol an "act of sedition", The Washington Post's editorial board wrote that Trump's "continued tenure in office poses a grave threat to U.S. democracy" as well as to public order and national security, and called for Pence to immediately begin the 25th Amendment process to declare Trump "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" so that Pence could serve until Biden's inauguration on January 20.[240]

The National Association of Manufacturers also requested Pence to "seriously consider" invoking the 25th Amendment.[241] On the evening of January 6, some Cabinet members held preliminary discussions about the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to declare Trump "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" and thus transfer his powers and duties to Pence as acting president.[242][243][244]

Impeachment[edit]

On January 11, House Representatives David Cicilline (D–RI), Jamie Raskin (D–MD), and Ted Lieu (D–CA) introduced a four-page article of impeachment against Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection. The article states that Trump "demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law"; "gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government"; "inciting violence against the government of the United States"; "threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government"; and "thereby betrayed his trust as president, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States."[245] The article cites Trump's role in inciting the Capitol riot as well as "his prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 Presidential election" including the efforts to pressure Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and other state officials and lawmakers. As permitted by the Constitution, the article also seeks to permanently disqualify Trump—who has reportedly considered running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024—from holding any federal office.[245]

On January 12, the House passed, on a 223–205 vote, a resolution formally calling upon Vice President Pence to invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, declaring Trump "incapable of executing the duties of his office" and immediately assuming powers as acting president until Biden is sworn into office on January 20. The resolution passed on a mostly party-line vote, with all Democrats voting yes and all Republicans (except for Adam Kinzinger of Illinois) voting no. The resolution stated that unless Pence responded within 24 hours, the House would proceed with impeachment proceedings against Trump. Ahead of the January 12 vote, Pence sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi saying that he would not invoke the 25th Amendment. Pence's refusal ensured that an impeachment vote would take place.[246][247]

Trump was impeached for the second time by the House of Representatives on January 13, 2021 for incitement of insurrection, on a vote of 232–197, becoming the only U.S. president or other federal official to be impeached twice.[248] All 222 Democrats, as well as 10 Republicans, voted to impeach; 197 Republicans voted against impeachment.[249] On February 13, 2021, Trump was acquitted 57-43 by the Senate.[250] Seven Republicans joined all fifty Democrats in voting to convict Trump, but ultimately it fell ten votes short.[251]

Potential spread of COVID-19[edit]

Public health experts have said that the storming of the Capitol was a potential COVID-19 superspreader event.[252] Activist Tim "Baked Alaska" Gionet participated in the riot despite a recent positive diagnosis,[253] and few members of the crowd wore face coverings, with many coming from out of town.[252] Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and lead member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that the rioters' failure to "adhere to the fundamentals of public health" to prevent the spread of COVID-19—such as "universal wearing of masks, keeping physical distance, [and] avoiding crowds in congregate settings"—placed them at risk.[254] The day after the event, Eric Toner, a senior scholar from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said the storming of the Capitol was "extraordinarily dangerous" from a public-health perspective.[252]

As many as 200 congressional staffers reportedly sheltered in various rooms inside the Capitol, further increasing the risk of transmission.[252][255] Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician of Congress, reported that members of Congress who were in protective isolation during the attack, some for several hours, may have been exposed to others with COVID-19; Monahan advised members to take protective measures, monitor for symptoms, and take a precautionary RT-PCR test.[256][257]

A video of members of Congress sheltering in place shows a group of maskless Republicans, including Andy Biggs, Scott Perry, Michael Cloud (R–TX) and Markwayne Mullin (R–OK), refusing masks offered by Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (D–DE); Blunt Rochester later wrote that she was "disappointed in my colleagues who refused to wear a mask" but "encouraged by those who did."[256] On January 12, a bill was introduced in the House to impose a $500 fine the first day members refuse to wear a mask on the floor and a $2,500 fine for the second time. The money would be deducted from the offending members and staffers pay.[258]

Representative Jacob LaTurner (R–KS) tested positive after the lockdown was lifted, and, as a result, was absent from the House floor when the Electoral College certification resumed. Starting January 11, four members of Congress, Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman (D–NJ), Pramila Jayapal (D–WA), Brad Schneider (D–IL), and Adriano Espaillat (D–NY)[259] tested positive after being exposed to maskless members of Congress during the lockdown. All had gone into isolation while awaiting testing results. Jayapal condemned Republican colleagues who, while sheltering in place during the riots, "not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one."[260][261] After sheltering in the same room on January 6, Conan Harris, husband of Representative Ayanna Pressley, tested positive on the night of January 12, putting both Harris and Presley into quarantine.[262]

More than two weeks after the storming, 38 Capitol Police officers tested positive for the virus. However, it was unclear how many of them were on duty during the event or when they contracted it.[263] On January 25, the commander of the District of Columbia National Guard, Major General William Walker, said that nearly 200 troops deployed to the nation's capital had tested positive for COVID-19. The number of cases had risen by nearly five times from the 45 cases reported on January 15.[264]

Crackdowns on extremist content and Trump connections[edit]

The role of social media in the storming of the Capitol created pressure for platforms to strengthen enforcement of moderation policies prohibiting extremist content to prevent further violence. The response of social media platforms renewed accusations by some conservatives that their policies and enforcement promote an implicit ideological bias by limiting the expression of conservative political and social viewpoints even through controversial or false statements. The First Amendment, however, only restricts government-sanctioned limits on speech, and its protections do not apply to private entities and to obscene or defamatory speech.[265][266]

Corporate suspensions of Trump's social media, content, and connections[edit]

Shortly after Trump's January 6 video message was uploaded, the video was removed by Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for violating site policies on "civil integrity" and election misinformation.[267] Facebook executive Guy Rosen said the video was removed because "it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence."[268] That evening, Twitter locked Trump's account for twelve hours and threatened a permanent suspension for "repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy." Twitter also required him to remove three of his tweets.[269][270] Snapchat indefinitely suspended Trump's account on the platform the same day,[271] while Shopify terminated shops that sold Trump campaign paraphernalia and merchandise from his personal TrumpStore brand.[272]

The following day, Facebook and its platforms, including Instagram, announced they had banned Trump indefinitely, at least until the end of his presidential term. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote, "The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor."[273] On January 7, Twitch announced it had disabled Trump's channel on the platform.[274] TikTok announced it would restrict videos of the Capitol attack and Trump's January 6 address, other than those providing factual information, criticism or journalistic value.[275] Pinterest began limiting hashtags related to pro-Trump topics such as #StopTheSteal since around the November election.[276]

On January 8, Twitter permanently suspended Trump "due to the risk of further incitement of violence" from his tweets, writing that specific tweets by Trump that "are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so."[277] The company also noted that "Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021."[277] Twitter said it would not ban government accounts like @POTUS or @WhiteHouse, but would "take action to limit their use";[277] the company and that sock puppet accounts created for Trump in an attempt to evade the ban would be permanently suspended "at first detection."[278] Circumventing the ban, Trump blasted Twitter's decision in threads posted from the @POTUS account and @TeamTrump (his campaign account), accusing Twitter without evidence of "coordinat[ing] with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform to silence me" and uploaded an image of Twitter's bird logo emblazoned with the Soviet flag. Twitter removed the @POTUS posts and suspended @TeamTrump for repeated violations of its block evasion policy.[278] Twitter also suspended Trump campaign digital director Gary Coby's account after he forwarded his account information to Trump's deputy chief of staff, Dan Scavino, in an attempt to transfer it for Trump's use.[278]

On January 10, the Professional Golfers' Association of America (PGA) exercised its contractual right to terminate its arrangement to host the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, which had been awarded the tournament in 2014.[279] The PGA said that it had "become clear that conducting the PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster would be detrimental to the PGA of America brand"; Trump had spent years trying to land a golf championship at one of his resorts.[280] The next day, the R&A followed suit, saying it would not hold any of its championships "in the foreseeable future" at Trump Turnberry in Scotland.[281] Also on January 10, Stripe announced it would stop processing online card payments to Trump's campaign for violating its terms of service against encouraging violence.[282] Other companies reportedly seeking to cut ties with Trump include Deutsche Bank and Signature Bank.[283]

On January 12, YouTube announced that it had temporarily banned Trump's channel for seven days, restricting it from uploading any new videos or live-streams. YouTube said the decision came after the president violated the platform's policies by posting content that incited violence. All the previous content on the channel was removed. YouTube also said that the ban could be extended.[284]

Corporate suspensions of other accounts and programs[edit]

Twitter also banned accounts deemed to be "solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content", including those belonging to former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son Michael Flynn Jr., attorneys Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood (both of whom brought failed lawsuits challenging the election results), and former 8chan administrator Ron Watkins.[285][286] Twitter's ban of Trump and others was criticized by some Trump allies, as well as some foreign leaders.[c]

Also on January 8, Discord banned a pro-Trump server called "The Donald", which had ties to the banned subreddit r/The Donald. Discord cited the connection between the server and The Donald's online forum, which was used in planning the riot.[292] Parler removed several posts from Wood espousing conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric, including a call for Vice President Pence and others to be subjected to firing squads, for violating community rules on speech encouraging violence.[293] YouTube terminated two accounts belonging to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, including one hosting his "War Room" podcast, for repeated community guidelines violations pertaining to misinformation about widespread fraud or errors that affected the 2020 election's outcome.[294]

On January 12, Facebook and Twitter announced that they were removing content related to the "Stop the Steal" movement and suspending 70,000 QAnon-focused accounts, respectively.[295] Experts at the Anti-Defamation League found that after the suspension of QAnon-related Twitter accounts, the use of QAnon-related hashtags plunged on Twitter by 73%, and as of January 19, were being used at a 97% lower rate than at the height of the spike that followed the Capitol insurrection.[296]

Airbnb cancelled all reservations in Washington, D.C. for the week of January 20 (refunding affected hosts out of its own money), and deactivated accounts of any users who it found belonged to hate groups and/or participated in the storming of the Capitol.[297][298]

The day of the storming of the Capitol, Cumulus Media, owner of several conservative talk radio programs through Westwood One, sent an internal memo directing its employees to stop questioning the outcome of the election on-air, on threat of being fired.[299]

Removal of services from Parler[edit]

Parler rose to prominence during the 2020 presidential campaign and found renewed attention after the riot. The site, which bills itself as a "free speech social network", has a significant user base of Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, conspiracy theorists, and right-wing extremists, including some who have been banned from Facebook and Twitter.[300][301][302][303] After Twitter permanently suspended Trump, there was a sharp one-day increase in the number of Parler downloads on the Apple App Store[304] and some prominent right-wing politicians advertised their Parler accounts.[305] Apple and Google removed the Parler app from their App Store and Google Play Store, respectively, citing usage of the site to plan and coordinate the insurrection, its hosting of posts inciting violence, and its failure to adopt more robust content moderation.[306][307][308] Amazon also terminated the cloud services that it had been providing to Parler through Amazon Web Services.[309] As a result, Parler's website and apps ceased to be operational at 11:59 p.m. PST on January 10.[310] Amazon said it had sent reports of 98 instances of posts that "clearly encourage and incite violence" to Parler in the weeks preceding the decision.[311] Parler's COO Jeffrey Wernick said that Parler would return in some form.[312]

Parler sued Amazon in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, raising antitrust and breach of contract claims;[313] Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein denied Parler's request for a preliminary injunction that would force Amazon to restore service to Parler, writing that Parler had offered "dwindlingly slight" evidence in support of its antitrust claim and had "failed to allege basic facts" to support its complaint against Amazon.[314]

Revocation of Trump honorary degrees, contracts, and other connections[edit]

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in a video conference stated that Trump committed a "criminal act" and as such the city would terminate all contracts with the Trump Organization and would not do any business with them any longer. Specifically, New York City would take steps to terminate contracts with the Trump Organization to operate the Central Park Carousel, the Wollman & Lasker skating rinks, as well as the Ferry Point Golf Course. De Blasio stated that the city was working to find new vendors to take over the facilities to continue to provide services to customers. De Blasio ended that Trump would "no longer profit" with his relationship with New York City.[315]

After the assault on the Capitol, Lehigh University and Wagner College revoked the honorary degrees they had conferred upon Trump in 1988 and 2004, respectively. The revocations of the honors left Liberty University as the only institution that gave an honorary degree to Trump.[316][317] The board of the SAG-AFTRA voted "overwhelmingly" that probable cause existed to expel Trump from the entertainment union, to which Trump had belonged since 1989. The guild cited Trump's role in the January 6 riot at the Capitol, and his "reckless campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting and ultimately threatening the safety of journalists, many of whom are SAG-AFTRA members."[318] Trump later resigned from the union before the matter of his expulsion came before the union's disciplinary committee.[319]

Backlash from far-right extremists[edit]

According to the Anti-Defamation League, Babbitt’s likeness has been used to create images, posts and other content celebrating right-wing extremist ideologies, including a flag commemorating the Capitol insurgency. White supremacists see Babbitt as a symbol of white resistance, and the white supremacist National Partisan Movement Telegram channel posted a memorial image with the text "Rest in White Power".

Some antisemitic groups consider Babbitt a "representative of 200 million White Americans" who "struggle against Jewry". They invoke the "memory" of Nazi Germany and ask others to "swear an oath to Ashli Babbit [sic] and all the martyrs of the past that you won't give up until we've at least surpassed the Germans in terms of struggle and sacrifice."[320]

The ADL reported that a "Million Martyr March" in Babbitt's honor, and other calls to violence, were proliferated prior to Inauguration Day. One viral Parler post from a popular QAnon supporter announced "Many of Us will return on January 19, 2021, carrying Our weapons, in support of Our nation's resolve, to which [sic] the world will never forget!!! We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match."[321]

The New York Times reported in March 2021 that the incident had caused groups like Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and the Groyper Army to splinter amid disagreements on whether the storming had gone too far or was a success, and doubts about the leadership of their organizations, raising concerns of increasing numbers of lone wolf actors who would be more difficult to monitor and might take more extreme actions.[322]

Political donors[edit]

Several large companies[323] announced they were suspending all political donations, and others have suspended funding the lawmakers who had objected to certifying Electoral College results.[324]

Security measures[edit]

National Guardsmen at the Capitol building on January 12, 2021, in preparation for the inauguration of Joe Biden

Following the storming of the Capitol and increased incidents of harassment, members of Congress received additional security as they traveled through airports. Through Biden's inauguration, Capitol Police were to be stationed at D.C.-area airports (Reagan National, Baltimore-Washington, and Dulles)[325] and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was to increase its screening of DC-bound air passengers.[326]

Security was also put on high alert at the Capitol itself; a "non-scalable" security fence was placed around the Capitol and 6,200 members of the National Guard were expected to deploy to the national capital region by the weekend.[327] On a private call on January 11, Capitol Police spoke with House Democrats about the possibility of making members of Congress pass through metal detectors for Biden's inauguration. Following the call, a lawmaker told HuffPost that concern had been raised about "all these [Congress] members who were in league with the insurrectionists who love to carry their guns."[328] On January 12, acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett informed lawmakers that anyone entering the House chamber (including members of Congress) would have to pass through metal detectors.[258] Security screening remained in place after Biden's inauguration. The House passed a rule on February 2 that anyone who did not complete the screening would be fined $5,000 for a first offense and $10,000 from a second offense, to be deducted from their salaries;[329] within several days of the rule's passage, two Republican representatives were fined.[330]

After the riot, a new security perimeter was established around the Capitol for Inauguration Day, including a "non-scalable" security fence.

A new security perimeter was created for the January 20 presidential inauguration, blocking off large portions of the city near Capitol Hill. The mayor announced parking facilities would be sealed off on January 15, and that delivery vehicles serving businesses in the security zone would be screened on entry.[297] The Washington Metro announced it would close 11–13 subway stations from January 15 to 21 and re-route buses around the security zone to discourage people from traveling to the area.[331] The night before the inauguration, 25,000 National Guard members arrived in Washington, D.C.,[332][333] and they were authorized to use lethal force.[334][335]

Inauguration week protests[edit]

In response to calls for further protests and violence in Washington, D.C., and states across the U.S., the FBI, Secret Service, and state law enforcement agencies began conducting threat assessments and tracking extremist rhetoric online.[336] CNN reported on January 11 that an internal FBI bulletin warned that "Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January," continuing, "an identified group calling for others to join them in 'storming' state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event POTUS is removed as President prior to Inauguration Day. This identified group is also planning to 'storm' government offices including in the District of Columbia and in every state, regardless of whether the states certified electoral votes for Biden or Trump, on 20 January."[337][338] In a January 11 briefing, Capitol Police informed House Democrats they were prepared for "tens of thousands of armed protesters" in the coming days, and that they were aware of and monitoring three separate plots: one in honor of killed rioter Ashli Babbitt, another promoted as the United States' "largest armed protest ever", and a third "would involve insurrectionists forming a perimeter around the Capitol, the White House[,] and the Supreme Court" before "blocking Democrats from entering the Capitol ― perhaps even killing them ― so that Republicans could take control of the government". On January 11, a House lawmaker told HuffPost that insurrectionist groups, now left without sites like Parler to use as recruitment platforms, sought media attention for their planned demonstrations or attacks "as a way to further disseminate information and to attract additional support for their attacks."[328]

Minor protests occurred during inauguration week, which featured the participation of far-right militia groups that follow right-libertarianism, neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, white supremacism, and other ultranationalist or right-wing ideologies as well as members of the New Black Panther Party, and the QAnon and boogaloo movements.[258][339] Multiple people were arrested in D.C. for threatening to commit violence during Biden's inauguration.

Concerns over March 4, 2021[edit]

Starting in late January, QAnon adherents began expressing their beliefs that Trump would be re-inaugurated as the 19th President on March 4, the original date for presidential inaugurations until the passage of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933.[340][341] This belief was adopted from a false aspect of sovereign citizen ideology that asserts there has not been a "legitimate" U.S. President since Ulysses S. Grant (whose first inauguration occurred on March 4, 1869) due to an 1871 law that supposedly turned the U.S. into a corporation.[341][342] In February, it was reported that National Guard troops were expected to remain in Washington, D.C., through March 12 due to concerns over possible activity by QAnon adherents on March 4.[343]

On March 2, it was reported that security measures were being added in Washington, D.C., in preparation for possible events on March 4.[342] Despite these reports, the Capitol Police had advised lawmakers earlier that week that there was no indication of any protests or acts of violence in Washington, D.C., being planned.[344] However, based on new intelligence that an identified but undisclosed militia group might attempt an attack on the Capitol building from that date to March 6, the agency issued an updated alert on March 3. House leadership subsequently rescheduled a March 4 vote to the previous night to allow lawmakers to leave town, though it later said the reschedule wasn't done out of security concerns. Meanwhile, the Senate did not follow suit, and it continued debating on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 as planned.[344][345][346][347]

In addition to the Capitol Police advisory, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint intelligence bulletin, featuring similar warnings of possible violence on March 4, to state and local law enforcement agencies across the U.S. on the previous day.[344][345] The Associated Press reported that federal agents were monitoring hotel rooms, flight, and rental car reservation increases, as well as bus charters, for that day. It also reported a decline in online activity on some social media platforms regarding March 4, similar to another decline of online chatter leading up to the events of January 6.[344] However, Newsweek reported a recent skepticism towards the March 4 theory developing among QAnon adherents, who rescheduled the date of Trump's re-inauguration to March 20, the 167th anniversary of the founding of the Republican Party.[348]

Anti-protest legislation[edit]

In the days following the attack on the Capitol, Republican politicians in at least three states introduced legislation creating new prohibitions on protest activity.[349]

In Florida, a bill based on legislation proposed in response to the George Floyd protests against police brutality in summer 2020 was introduced by State Senator Danny Burgess on January 6.[349] The bill, which would protect Confederate monuments; permit the state to overrule local governments' decisions to reduce funding for police; waive sovereign immunity for municipalities, thereby allowing local authorities to be sued for providing inadequate law enforcement; and block people injured while participating in protests from receiving damages, was described by Governor Ron DeSantis as an effort to prevent events like the Capitol attack.[349] In Mississippi, a bill was introduced on January 7 that would criminalize blocking traffic, throwing objects, pulling down monuments, causing emotional distress, any activity by a group of six or more people that "disturbs any person in the enjoyment of a legal right", or aiding a person doing any of these; it would also prevent protesters from suing police, prevent municipalities from reducing funding for police, and expand the state's stand your ground law.[349] In Indiana, a bill also introduced on January 7 would criminalize camping at the Indiana Statehouse, which was the site of protests in June 2020, and introduce mandatory sentences for anyone convicted of battery against a police officer or emergency service professional.[349]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The 38 senators include two independent Senators who caucus with the Democrats, Angus King (ME) and Bernie Sanders (VT).[221]
  2. ^ Murkowski called for Trump to resign.[222] Sasse said he would consider articles of impeachment from the House and that Trump "disregarded his oath of office."[223] Toomey said he thought Trump "committed impeachable offenses"[224] and later called on Trump to resign.[225]
  3. ^ Critics of social media companies who banned Trump included his political allies, such as his Donald Trump Jr.; Republican Senators Ted Cruz (TX) and Marco Rubio (FL), Republican Representatives Lauren Boebert (CO) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley,[287][288] as well as foreign political figures, specifically German chancellor Angela Merkel,[289] Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Russian dissident Alexey Navalny, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov,[290] and Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro.[291]

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