January 6 marked a monumental day in United States history. The attack on the U.S. Capitol was argued to be a threat to American democracy. It does not matter which side of the political aisle that you are on. This riot was a dangerous and highly calculated criminal act.
On that Wednesday morning, Trump supporters raided the U.S. capital after being urged by former President Trump to march there. Various media accounts state they marched to the Capitol while the Senate was involved in a debate on the electoral college votes cast that certified President-Elect Joe Biden’s win. The pro-Trump group pushed their way past the police, sending the Senate in an unscheduled recess. This volatile clash was one of the largest security breaches in the United States.
Comparison Between Capitol Riots and Black Lives Matter
Mass hysteria ensued after the attack as there was widespread speculation about the level of security for the Capitol building. There have been varying perspectives on the reason for the inadequate security measures at the Capitol. One of the main arguments that several critics have posited is that the police were more lenient in dealing with white protesters than the protesters representing the Black Lives Matter movement. During the Capitol riot, the insurrectionists were able to roam freely during the building’s halls. They took selfies, stole souvenirs, smashed doors, and defaced statues. They even exclaimed, “Hang Mike Pence!”
Many of them had shoved and beaten police officers, one of whom later died. On June 1, 2020, a crowd similar to the size of the White House rioters gathered outside of the White House after the police killed George Floyd. They were a diverse group of individuals who had pleaded for an end to police brutality and racial equality. Nevertheless, an army of federal agents assembled after Trump to show domination by shooting rubber bullets and using chemical agents.
These two protests are symbols of democracy in the nation’s capital, and it underscores the type of legacy that Trump will have on the United States. Recently, President Joe Biden stated that black protesters who protested during Black Lives Matter were treated differently than the “thugs” that raided the capital. The President further mentioned that the Capitol riot was utterly unacceptable.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said that the riots in January could have been encouraged by some of the Capitol police and staff members in the building.
According to a report published on Friday, January 8, several sources in the FBI say that they “are examining clues that could prove that some Capitol police and building staffers may have helped persons who raided the Capitol. Law enforcement agencies are reportedly reviewing numerous videos of Capitol police pulling back barricades or simply allowing the rioters to run right past them, giving them access inside the building”.
Police officers who were involved may face cowardice charges, which is the failure to take proper police action. Meanwhile, the “insurrectionists” could be charged with threatening Congress since the House and Senate were both in session to certify then-President-elect Joe Biden’s win as the 46th President of the United States.
The FBI is also looking into how the rioters were able to locate Nancy Pelosi’s office. Reports state “the maze-like path to her office is not open to the public and is nowhere near any main hallways or other important Congressional offices. Yet, the rioters were able to find Pelosi’s office within 10 minutes of entering the building.” The U.S. Capitol building has been closed to the public since March, so the FBI is in disbelief as there would be no other way to find the office that quickly without someone telling the rioters where to go.
The FBI investigation will also comprise a review of Capito officers, who were both on-duty and off-duty, but other potential suspects like engineers, plumbers, and custodial staff. The FBI is also aggressively investigating the death of Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick after sustaining injuries when rioters attacked him.
Likewise, several congressional Democrats believe persons on the inside aided the January 6 breach on the U.S Capitol. The chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee, Rep. Tim Ryan, who oversees the Capitol Police, said recently that “more than a dozen Capitol Police officers have been under investigation in connection to the riot.” However, Rep. Mikie Sherill of New Jersey went further and released a 13-minute Facebook live video in which she suggested that members of Congress were also complicit in the attack.
Sherill said, “she witnessed members of Congress escort people through the Capitol on January 5 and referred to it as “reconnaissance” for the January 6 insurrection”.
The House Majority James Clyburn of South Carolina told CBS News that he also believed the “insurrectionists” had help from people inside. He says that “They knew where to go” and that he has been told that congressional staff members had reported seeing people “being allowed into the building through side doors.” He added that he saw persons “Who opened those side doors for these protesters — or, I call them these mobsters — to come into the building, not through the main entrance where magnetometers are but through side doors. Yes, somebody on the inside of those buildings was complicit in this.” He also said that the office with his name on it was not touched but that “the office where I do most of my work, they were on that floor and outside that door.”
Clyburn told CBS there “were no security people on the steps” on the morning of the attack and that “they were all out in a place which I thought gave low security.” He accused security forces of being “not just derelict” but “complicit.”
Acquittal of Former President Donald Trump
On Saturday, February 13, the United States Senate decided to acquit Former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial. However, the vast majority of Senators still rejected the decision to charge him, although he motivated the attack.
The Senate voted 57-43, ten votes short of the necessary votes to convict him. Despite the result, seven republicans voted to find the former President guilty of insurrection along with fifty democrats. This result is significant as it marks the most bipartisan support for conviction in any of the four presidential impeachments in American history.
The historical moment was because of the outrage about Former President Trump’s behavior among senators who had a firsthand account of the violence.
According to a New York Times article, Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and the lead manager, pleaded with senators before the vote. “If that is not ground for conviction, if that is not a high crime and misdemeanor against the Republic and the United States of America, then nothing is,” He further added that “President Trump must be convicted, for the safety and democracy of our people.”
When the verdict was announced, Mr. Trump, in a statement, thanked his legal team and decried, as he did for most of his presidency, “the witch hunt that was waged upon him by his enemies.”
He wrote, “It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree”.
He also suggested that the Democrats’ attempt to end his political career failed, telling his supporters, “our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.”
The article further stated that the verdict brought a sudden end to the fourth presidential impeachment trial in American history. The only one in which the accused had left office before being tried. The senators were voting on a question with no precedent in American history: whether to convict a former president accused of seeking to violently thwart the peaceful transfer of power and putting at risk the lives of hundreds of lawmakers and his vice president. The trial ended after just five days. Republicans and Democrats did not want a prolonged proceeding, and partly because Mr. Trump’s allies had made clear before it even began, they were not prepared to hold him responsible.
Implications for Democrats and Republicans
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his entire leadership team voted to reject the charge approved by the House. This result means that there will be little resistance in the party to renounce Trumpism.
They may have lost the final vote, but they secured the most bipartisan impeachment in House history and the most bipartisan vote to convict a President.