Yesterday was a month long. As this guy said, maybe it’s just December 37, 2020. Of course everything would just get worse in 2021.
I’d call this a comedy of errors if it wasn’t so bone-achingly depressing. I’m recording some questions and thoughts here because I don’t want to forget what actually happened. There’s so much gaslighting already.
Here’s a timeline of what I feel are the more salient events from yesterday. This is pulled together mainly from news sources and tweets from journalists, times are linked to sources.
Believe me, I recognize the irony of relying on Twitter heavily for this considering that they’re complicit in the spread of the conspiracy theories that fueled this event. But it’s still one of the best places to witness a major event unfold in real time, so here we are.
I’ve recorded this here since it feels like the chronology of events and the smaller details are already evaporating, and this helps me wrap my head around a tiny fraction of it. If you happen to read this, don’t take this at face value (nor anything else on the web for that matter). Do your own research and correct me if you think any of the timestamps are wrong.
- 10:50am, 6 January 2021 — Rudy Giuliani suggests “trial by combat” during his speech to Trump supporters, presumably to fire them up before Trump comes on.
- 12:35 p.m — Missouri Senator Josh Hawley raises his fist in alliance with Trump supporters outside the Capitol as he approaches the building for the joint session.
- ~1:10pm — President Trump ends his roughly 70 minute speech to supporters with “We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Ave […] and we’re going to try to give […] our Republicans—the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help—we’re to try and give them kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.” Watch video at linked source for the full clip.
- 1:12pm — Nancy Pelosi opens the joint session to confirm Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next President and Vice President.
- ~1:15pm — Trump supporters clash with Capitol Police on the steps of the Capitol. No National Guard troops are present.
- 1:17pm — Republican Rep. Paul Gosar from Arizona raises an objection to Arizona’s results, co-signed by senator Ted Cruz. Republicans give a standing ovation.
- 1:55pm — The U.S. Capitol Police evacuate some congressional office buildings due to “police activity”.
- 2:12pm — All buildings in the Capitol Complex go on lockdown with no entry or exit allowed.
- 2:16pm — Violent Trump supporters breach the Capitol building and are outside the Senate chamber. Rioters break through the glass panes on the cast iron doors to the center steps of the Capitol.
- 2:20pm — The Senate recesses its debate just after Senator Ted Cruz argues for an objection to Arizona’s electoral college results on the flimsy basis that some of the electorate’s disbelief in the legitimacy of the election is enough to justify an “emergency audit”. The House follows soon after.
- 2:24pm — Trump tweets “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” No thoughts on the rioting, breaking in to the People’s House and forcing our elected officials to abandon their duties? Okie dokie.
- 2:31pm — Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C. orders a curfew beginning at 6pm.
- 2:38pm — Over an hour after the violence started, Trump finally acknowledges the situation by tweeting “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!” Not sure how one can “stay peaceful” when there was no peace to begin with.
- ~2:39pm — Members of Congress are evacuated, given gas masks since tear gas is in use in the Rotunda.
- 2:56pm — Garrett Haake from NBC states that Nancy Pelosi and Mayor Bowser have asked for the D.C. National Guard, and one of his two unnamed sources says that the Department of Defence “has not yet approved change-of-mission for the DC guard”.
- 3:13pm — Trump again tweets that people should “remain peaceful”. No condemnation of the violence or threats of prosecution, hallmarks of his language during every other instance of protest-related disturbance throughout 2020. No calling on the mob to disperse.
- 3:29 — The governor of Virginia announces that he is sending members of the Virginia National Guard along with 200 Virginia State Troopers to Washington, D.C. at the request of Mayor Bowser, Pelosi, and Schumer.
- ~3:32pm — A woman is shot and critically injured. Later reporting reveals that she was shot by police as she approached a window to the Speaker’s Lobby. She died roughly two hours later. A witness said that “a number of police and Secret Service were saying, ‘get down, get back, get out of the way.’ She didn’t heed the call.”
- ~3:35pm — The Republican governor of Maryland mobilizes the National Guard and 200 state troopers to support law enforcement in Washington, D.C.
- 3:36pm — Over two hours after the violence started, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announces over Twitter that President Trump has authorized the National Guard, parroting the “remain peaceful” oxymoron. No word on why President Trump failed to deploy them in advance as has happened with every other protest in recent memory, let alone why it took so long for him to take action after rioters were breaking down the Capitol doors. Perhaps it only seemed necessary once one someone had been shot.
- ~4pm — Biden gives a televised speech calling on President Trump “to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution, and demand an end to this siege.”
- 4:17pm — Trump releases a pre-recorded video on Twitter. “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. […] So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated — that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel, but go home and go home in peace.” Again: what peace?
- ~4:44pm — Twitter prevents users from retweeting, liking, or replying Trump’s aforementioned tweet and another due to a “risk of violence”.
- 5:20pm — The D.C. police chief announces that 13 people have been arrested in connection to the riot. This is after three hours of violence and looting. Some wider context and contrast: 289 people were arrested on June 1st during the George Floyd protests in D.C.
- 5:23pm — The Department of Defense releases an oddly-worded statement confirming the activation of the D.C. National Guard. “President Trump” is conspicuously absent from the statement which says that acting secretary of defense Christopher Miller spoke with “the Vice President and with Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Senator Schumer and Representative Hoyer”. Many interpret this to mean that President Trump had very little, or nothing, to do with the activation of the National Guard.
- 5:34pm — The Sergeant at Arms says that the Capitol building is secure. Many voices in infosec speculate heavily about how it can be secure when so much hardware was exposed and so much correspondence and documentation may have been stolen.
- 6pm — An announcement goes out to alert the public of the citywide curfew now in effect for the next 12 hours.
- 6:01pm — Trump tweets “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!” Does he think he’s William Wallace? Astonishing, and a pretty far cry from denouncing the violence.
- 7:02pm — Twitter locks Trump’s account for 12 hours and removes three of his recent tweets. This follows a slightly earlier move by Facebook and YouTube to remove some of his uploads and posts.
- 7:12pm — The electoral college ballots are marched back to the Senate chamber. This is made possible due to an earlier move by staff from the nonpartisan Parliamentarian office to grab them as they were being evacuated. The results would not have been lost if they had been left behind since multiple copies are made, but it would have significantly delayed resuming the session.
- 8:08pm — Congress reconvenes for the electoral vote certification. It begins with condemnation of the violence from Pence, McConnell, and Schumer. Schumer is the only one among them that calls for the insurrectionists to be prosecuted, and lays blame at Trump’s door. Senator Kelly Loeffler, who lost the election to Raphael Warnock earlier the same day, announces “I cannot now object to the certification of these electors.”
- 8:58pm — Facebook and Instagram lock Trump’s accounts until at least the inauguration. It will be interesting to see how long this actually lasts. It’s also convenient that they couldn’t do anything until now, the same day that it became clear that the former opposition party is going to have congressional oversight.
- 9:29pm — Senator Mitt Romney condemns the violence, saying “What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States.” He seems to be one of the first major Republican politicians placing blame on President Trump. Senator Lindsey Graham breaks ranks with Trump shortly thereafter. Too little far too late, but anything to save face I suppose.
- 10:11pm — The Senate debate regarding the Arizona objection, brought nearly six hours ago, finally comes to an end and is rejected 93–6.
- 10:20pm — Debate continues in the House, and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz takes to the floor blaming antifa for the violence. That narrative pirouette didn’t take long, might be a new world record! Some mental gymnastics are to be expected when there is so much evidence that you are so very deeply in the wrong. The Arizona objection fails in the House around 8:11pm.
- 10:56pm — Heather Caygle from Political reports that 52 arrests have been made. Again, in case you missed it earlier in the timeline: 289 people were arrested on June 1st during the George Floyd protests in D.C.
- 11:51pm — A Republican rep objects to the Georgia certification but when asked for confirmation of the co-signing Senator, says “Prior to the actions and events of today, but after the actions and events today it appears some senators have withdrawn their objection.” Subsequent objections for Michigan and Nevada go the same way.
- 12:15am, 7 January 2021 — An objection to the Pennsylvania results is raised, co-signed by Senator Josh Hawley. He is the only senator that has backed an objection since the return from recess. McConnell almost immediately moves to end the debate, it’s seconded and the objection goes to a vote. It fails, the Senate verifies the Pennsylvania results. Debate in the house includes a scuffle when Republican Rep. Andy Harris got hot and bothered about Rep. Conor Lamb’s statement. Now, now. While the Senate rejected the objection immediately, the House ultimately takes the full two hours but also throws it out.
- 1:17am — All buildings within the Capitol Complex (not just the Capitol building) are cleared by the Capitol Police.
- 3:42am — After a House rejection of the Wisconsin results goes the same way as Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada, Congress certifies the Biden/Harris win. Hoyer later announces that no further sessions are planned in the House until after the inauguration.
A ton has happened since then, but I’ll leave the chronological timeline at that.
Here are photos of the damage inside the Capitol building, including the doors where the woman was shot, broken cast iron benches, the films of tear gas, the ransacked Senate Parliamentarian office, and the double-pane glass panel building doors with bullet holes on the outside.
For eyeopening firsthand accounts, see this Slate article and this Politico article.
More and more conservatives are pushing the “antifa did it” narrative, including Giuliani who himself called on the rioters to “trial by combat” a little over an hour before the violence started. Many pundits and politicians including Rep. Matt Gaetz have cited a debunked Washington Times story stating that tech company XRVision verified antifa activists via facial recognition. Au contraire, mes amis! Facial recognition software identified two neo-Nazis and a QAnon supporter. You don’t say.
Law enforcement ultimately found two pipe bombs and a suspicious vehicle. They arrested a grand total of 70 people related to the rioting from Wednesday through 7am Thursday morning, most for violating curfew.
One last time, in case you missed it above: 289 people were booked on June 1st alone during the George Floyd protests in D.C. To be crystal clear: I do not keep repeating this because it is a contest. I bring it up as just one detail among many that reflect the stark differences in the reaction of law enforcement.
So many people have highlighted the contrast in security between yesterday and pretty much any other day at the Capitol, between yesterday and so many other protests.
Remember when peaceful protesters at the plaza between St. John’s Church and Lafayette Park were cleared with tear gas so that President Trump could walk through the public park for a photo op with a Bible in front of the church?
The injustice, the difference in responses, deserves a whole book in and of itself and is one of the most depressing parts of all this. It’s infuriating. Go ahead and shout into the void, maybe someone will hear you.
Why didn’t they arrest each and every person walking out the doors of the Capitol building? Fingers crossed that they’ll use the wealth of visuals all over social media to identify people, but I’m not holding my breath. Why weren’t there better barriers, more officers? It’s not like they couldn’t see it coming. There was MERCH.
The preparation and response of law enforcement has been so bad that US allies are speculating that it was deliberately planned by Trump or others within government. A “current Metro D.C. police officer said that off-duty police officers and members of the military, who were among the rioters, flashed their badges and I.D. cards as they attempted to overrun the building”. And there was plenty of chumminess between the police and rioters, see this lovely video of a cop waving them in and this pause for a cheeky selfie. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
As I was writing, it was announced that a Capitol police officer has died after being hit in the head with a fire extinguisher by a violent Trump supporter.
Officials are resigning left and right. Many others are staying on out of a fear that they’re the only ones that can keep things under control during the final few days of the Trump administration. They may be right. Like someone said, “the person with the nuclear codes has been deemed too dangerous to have a Twitter account”. There’s talk of the 25th amendment, of impeachment, bipartisan calls for resignation. Again, not holding my breath.
And ugh. There was more violence tonight. January 19th and 20th are likely to be a repeat. February can’t come fast enough.
This was sedition committed by primarily white American citizens who were convinced that they were in the right, even ordained by God according to much of the eyewitness footage. They were convinced of this by their elected leaders and conspiracy theories pushed on Facebook, Twitter, Discord, the Chans, Parley, Gab, and other internet forums.
What a complete and total failure of leadership from the President of the United States, from every Republican politician and organization that has ever supported the demonstrably baseless claims of election fraud, from every public servant that has enabled this shitshow.
The US is the laughing stock—or the horror subplot, take your pick—of the world right now. Rightly so.
Edited a few times post-publish to correct details and add context.