So, I want to talk about 6 January 2021 and the attack on the US Capitol building in Washington, DC. There are a few reasons for this: 1) It’s important that we, as a nation, bring clarity to what happened and maintain focus on the attack until justice is served; 2) There is a concerted disinformation campaign on the Right surrounding the attack and what led up to it so as to whitewash the events of the day and lessen the impact of it; and, 3) As the January 6th Committee Investigation and public hearings proceed, I think it’s important to recap and review the information that we are learning about the insurrection and the coup attempt.
Let’s begin with a few definitions…
insurrection [ in-suh–rek-shuhn ]
- an act or instance of rising in revolt, rebellion, or resistance against civil authority or an established government.
treason [ tree-zuhn ]
- the offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill its sovereign.
- a violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or to one’s state.
- the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.
coup d’état [ koo dey-tah; French koo dey-ta ]
- a sudden and decisive action in politics, especially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.
And, just for coverage, one more…
terrorism [ ter–uh-riz-uhm ]
- the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
- the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
- a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
First Things First
To start, it’s important to note that, despite what you might hear from the Right Wing or even Laissez-Faire moderates who’re content with sweeping things under the rug and “moving on,” this is, in fact, a very serious issue that is being pursued by the FBI. The Bureau has set up a microsite dedicated to the Capitol Attack and the participants of the insurrectionist violence populate its Most Wanted list. Don’t believe a nanosecond of Tucker Carlson’s bowtied-bullshit, this is the real deal.
If you have any information related to identifying any of the individuals wanted by the FBI, please contact the Bureau directly through the tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or online at tips.fbi.gov.
While there are publicly editable versions of the timeline of events at places like the Wikipedia page for the 6 January 2021 Storming of the United States Capitol, safer bets—those which cannot be edited by Far Right actors, even if those edits will be remediated—are housed at places like The Washington Post’s Visual Timeline of 6 January 2021. However, I think the best, most prudent course of action is to take multiple timeline compilations from multiple media sources—including ABC News, NPR, Bloomberg, USA Today, The Washington Post, The New York Times amazing interactive piece, and, yes, the Wikipedia timeline—and cross-reference them with each other as well as corroborate them with official sources like the Department of Defense’s Timeline Document and The Congressional Record.
As the Wikipedia article details, there was a lot happening before 6 January that led up to the attack. We all remember Donald Trump—the twice impeached, failed president who is now under multiple federal and state criminal investigations for elections tampering, tax fraud, bank fraud, and other crimes—repeatedly jeering on crowds at his rallies and inciting followers to action via his Twitter posts with lines such as “Stop the steal!,” “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” “Be there, will be wild!,” and other clarion calls to the date. But what we, the public at large, are generally not aware of is that there were organising movements behind the scenes activating and operating in response to these calls by the then-President across the country preparing for the attack on 6 January in Washington, DC.
From the Oath Keepers training camp in Ohio in November to a Proud Boys march through the streets of DC in December, there are steady escalations from election night onward to the Electoral College Certification, which only intensify after the Biden victory in the Electoral College vote on 14 December.
Moving further out from the direct build up to the attack, however, we have to examine “The Big Lie®” from Donald Trump and his campaign. That is, the repeated and consistent drum beat of the idea that the election being fraudulent, stolen, or somehow broken in nature, form, or function. Donald Trump and the Trump-Pence campaign rolled this notion out very early in the campaign, it was a rehash of a tactic used against the Hillary campaign in 2016. Everything is legit if I win, but if I—Donald Trump—lose, it’s all a fraud. Remember that?
This tactic is what we, in the storytelling industries, call “setting the stage.” It’s a form of foreshadowing that primes the audience for what’s to come and subtly cues them to be ready for whatever story arcs, whether they’re naturally developing or wildly disruptive and discordant to the dominant narrative, are coming. What Trump was doing here was setting the stage for a “Hail Mary” offence, to borrow a phrase from the NFL, as a defence. If he lost the election, he could claim foul play and rely on the doubt he’d sown over the course of months to bolster his claim—this is, in fact, exactly what he attempted to do. But if he won, he could claim that his was a legitimate and flawless victory, just as he had in 2016, despite massive interference from outside actors like Russia.
I mention all of this because it’s this foundation upon which the modus for the Capitol Attack was built. This is how these otherwise seemingly normal people were perverted and radicalised into insurrectionists. We talk a lot about how religious terrorists are radicalised, but we never discuss how domestic terrorists are radicalised. And make no mistake, these people are terrorists. They used the mechanics of violence and fear against our government to affect a political outcome. (Look up top, definition four, that’s why I included it… that is terrorism. I’m not trying to be loose with words here, words have meanings and that’s what “terrorism” means.) Otherwise normal in daily life though they may be, these QAnon, MAGA terrorists have, in fact, been radicalised by Donald Trump and the other elements of the Far Right. As I’ve said before, the very root of this action goes all the way back to the Republican Party’s assault on education. When you devalue education and devalue science literacy, civics literacy, and arts literacy, you leave a massive void for anti-cultural, xenophobic messengers to rush into.
We all watched as the Capitol Attack unfolded on live television thanks to the intrepid and brave camera men and women on the Capitol beat that day. Make no mistake, the insurrectionist mob was actively hostile against the “mainstream media” and attacked media outposts and kiosks as violently as they attacked police officers.
Let’s focus on General Honoré’s Report…
In his report to the Speaker of the House, Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré—who was responsible for coordinating the military recovery effort after Hurricane Katrina—has urged Congress to completely revamp the Congressional security apparatus, adding hundreds of new Capitol Police, a quick reaction force, and new fencing to the Capitol Complex.
“The USCP is not postured to track, assess, plan against, or respond to this plethora of threats due to significant capacity shortfalls, inadequate training, immature processes, and an operating culture that is not intelligence-driven,” the report said.
Despite being a well considered and authoritative report from a well respected authority on preparedness and incident response, however, the Right has decried the report as a flawed, partisan attack on the former president. How and why they’ve come to that conclusion is, frankly, beyond me, but there it is.
Honoré calls for a new federal agency to be created to coordinate federal security forces and policing in the greater Washington, DC metro area—those activities of the Capitol Police, U.S. Park Police and U.S. Secret Service plus state and local law enforcement departments—similar to the organisation of the Department of Homeland Security. This, I think, is an astounding recommendation, as one would assume that under DHS these policing and security forces should already be coordinated and operating in harmony together and within the greater DHS network, to include the military.
The Congressional Investigation
The January 6th Committee—or, properly, The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol—has, at this point, conducted over 1000 depositions and interviews with witnesses of all stripes and multiple, nationally-televised public hearings to illustrate the events of and leading up to 6 January 2021. Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) have done an exceptional job at highlighting the key events that built and launched the insurrection by allowing members of the Republican Party and Trump’s own White House to share what they heard and saw take place.
The most damning of these hearings, in my opinion, were the 12 June 2022 Hearing and the 28 June 2022 Hearing, during which the public heard from Arizona State House Speaker, Rusty Bowers; Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger; Georgia Secretary of State COO, Gabriel Sterling; and former Georgia Elections Worker, Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, and former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Cassidy Hutchinson, respectively. In these two hearings, we learned of multiple conversations between then-President Trump and his aides and advisors that established a clear and definitive pattern of awareness that what he, Trump, was proposing—that then-Vice President Mike Pence set aside electoral votes from key states and effectively declare Trump the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election—was illegal and had no foundation in sound Constitutional powers or interpretation and, through Ms. Hutchinson, that Trump’s White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, raised concerns that the President, his staff, and, potentially, his aides might be “charged with crimes” were the plan to move forward.
We’ve also revisited the timeline of events of the attack on the capitol itself through the hearings, learned the details of the John Eastman coup plot, and heard about the coordination with pro-Trump media pushing out The Big Lie® narrative to supporters of the former President. All of which have been delivered through sworn testimony before the Committee by members of Trump’s Republican Party and administration. That’s powerful. And it’s important.
Important because this is not, as the former President has repeatedly claimed, a “witch-hunt.” Nor is it a politically motivated operation to disparage Donald Trump. This is a fact-finding investigation into the only real-life coup attempt in the United States history, and certainly the only one perpetuated by a sitting President of the United States.
The Coup Plot
John Eastman, a former Department of Justice lawyer within the Environmental Division, it is revealed, was the architect of the Trump Coup Plot. It was his memorandum, The Eastman Memo, which detailed the plan for former Vice President Mike Pence to subvert the 2020 Presidential Election by discarding the certified electoral votes of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, along with either New Mexico or Washington, D.C. and declaring Donald Trump the victor.
It was also Eastman, in conjunction with personal attorney to the then-President, Rudy Giuliani, who concocted the illegal and unscrupulous effort to forge and fraudulently submit to the National Archives and Senate of the United States “alternate” slates of Electors in multiple states.
Now, to suggest that Eastman was the brain behind the coup might be a little more credit than is due. Trump was the mastermind there. Don’t forget that Trump himself began laying out the seeds of a “rigged election” claim back in 2019 on the campaign trail, just as he did in 2015 and 2016 in his first election contest against Hillary Clinton—in which he was actively and cooperatively aided by the government of the Russian Federation. No, Eastman wasn’t the mastermind himself, he was, however, the man with the plan that married the desired outcome with the realities on the ground, so to speak. Eastman gave Trump the quasi-legalese roadmap by which he could arrive at the coup he wanted to effectuate.
As of this writing, the leader of the Proud Boys and four other members of the paramilitary gang have been indicted for seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to prevent a government official from discharging their duties. Along with members of the “Oath Keepers” paramilitary gang, who have pled guilty to seditious conspiracy, the Proud Boys and other military cosplaying criminals lead the charge to violently attack the Capitol Police, breach the Capitol, and sweep the building for Nancy Pelosi and then-Vice President Mike Pence with the intent to detain and, potentially, execute them.
While there were over 2000 individuals—the vast majority of whom are not affiliated with either the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, or Three Percenters paramilitary gangs—who breached the Capitol on 6 January 2021, the leaders of these organisations are the individuals who—through Steve Bannon and Roger Stone—coordinated the attack with the Trump Campaign’s “War Room” at the Willard Hotel.
Watch this Space
The January 6th Committee’s upcoming hearings are scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday this week, 12 July and 14 July 2022, and can be viewed live on all reputable media outlets without interruption—note that that, to date, excludes Fox News.