This post first appeared at BillMoyers.com on March 7, 2021.
Editor’s Note, March 6, 2021 — The theme for the latest update: The Gap and the Insiders. We’re learning more about the three hours that Trump and his administration failed to respond to the ongoing attack on the US Capitol. And now prosecutors have filed the first criminal charges against a member of the Trump administration. We’ve added new items (or revisions to previous items) that appear with an asterisk (*).
Trump’s Original Narrative Collapses
The Department of Defense’s January 8, 2021 initial press release purported to “memorialize the planning and execution timeline” of the deadly insurrection that it called the “January 6, 2021 First Amendment Protests in Washington, DC.”
The title was a ruse. Even so, Trump’s defenders are sticking with that false characterization and trying to convert it into a defense to his impeachment. But there’s no First Amendment right to incite an insurrection. And the First Amendment does not apply to whether Trump committed an impeachable offense anyway.
Late in the afternoon on January 11, 2021, even the Defense Department changed the title of its January 8 memorandum and reissued it “to more appropriately reflect the characterization of the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.” The retitled summary is the “January 6, 2021 Violent Attack at the U.S. Capitol.”
Substantively, the memo’s minute-by-minute account created a false illusion of transparency. In truth, its most noteworthy aspects are the omission of Trump’s central role in the insurrection and the effort to shift blame away from Trump and his new Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.
Who is Christopher Miller?
November 9, 2020: Every news organization has declared that former Vice President Joe Biden won the election. Trump fires Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and replaces him with Christopher Miller, an Army retiree who worked for a defense contractor until Trump tapped him as his assistant in 2018. Miller’s promotion is the beginning of a departmental regime change.
Under pressure from the White House, Defense Department general counsel Paul Ney names former GOP political operative Michael Ellis to be the top lawyer at the National Security Agency – the US government’s largest and most technically advanced spy agency. Ellis had been chief counsel to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) before joining the White House in 2017 as a lawyer on Trump’s National Security Council and then senior director for intelligence. During Trump’s first impeachment, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that Ellis had the idea of moving the memorandum of Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to a highly classified server.
Unlike a political appointee, Ellis’s position as general counsel to the NSA would make him a civil servant with accompanying employment protections. NSA Director Paul Nakasone opposes Ellis’s selection and tries to delay the process of installing him.
Nov. 10, 2020: Miller embeds three fierce Trump loyalists as top Defense Department officials: Kash Patel (former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)), retired army Gen. Anthony Tata (pro-Trump Fox News pundit), and Ezra Cohen-Watnick (former assistant to Trump’s first national security adviser, Mike Flynn).
At such a late date in Trump’s presidency, many ask, why the shake-up at the Department of Defense? We may be learning the answer.
Prior to the Attack
The department’s January 8, 2021 memo ignores Trump’s central role in igniting and then encouraging the January 6 insurrection. In fact, the only reference to Trump appears in a January 3 entry when Miller and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley meet with him and he concurs in activation of the DC National Guard “to support law enforcement.”
Other than that, Trump is conspicuously absent, along with the most important parts of the story. In the date and time entries that follow, only those in italics and preceded with “(DoD Memo)”summarize items from the Defense Department’s January 8 memorandum. The memo ignores every other fact set forth in this Timeline.
Nov. 4, 2020: Throughout the summer and fall, pre-election polls have indicated that Trump will lose to Biden decisively. But Trump has claimed repeatedly that he will lose only if the election is “rigged” and “stolen” from him. During an interview with far-right commentator Alex Jones, Trump ally Roger Stone says, “We’re calling it a fraud or we’re calling it a steal — stop the steal.” Stone had first used the “Stop the Steal” slogan during the 2016 primaries, claiming that a “Bush-Cruz-Kasich-Romney-Ryan-McConnell faction” was attempting to steal the Republican nomination from Trump. Stone had used the slogan again in the 2016 general election against Hillary Clinton.
Starting Nov. 9, 2020 and continuing past Jan. 6, 2021: Trump refuses to concede. Relentlessly, he attacks the election as “rigged” and “stolen.” Trump and his allies then lose more than 60 lawsuits seeking to invalidate the results as he pressures election officials to reverse vote totals in key swing states that he lost, including Georgia. “Stop the Steal” becomes a rallying cry.
Dec. 12, 2020: Trump tweets: “Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (D.C.) for Stop the Steal. Didn’t know about this, but I’ll be seeing them! #MAGA”
Dec. 15: Trump summons Acting Attorney General Rosen to the Oval Office to say that he wants the Justice Department to file legal briefs supporting his allies’ lawsuits seeking to overturn his election loss. Trump urges Rosen to appoint special counsels to investigate unfounded accusations of widespread voter fraud and Dominion, the voting machines firm. Rosen refuses. After the meeting, Trump continues to pressure Rosen in person and in phone calls.
Dec. 19, 2020: Trump tweets: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
Dec. 22: ABC7 News in Washington, DC confirms that the pro-Trump group, Women for America First, has amended its permit application for a rally to protest the outcome of the election, moving the date from January 23 – after the inauguration – to January 5 through 7. Federal Election Commission disclosures through November 2020 reveal that the Trump campaign has paid more than $2.7 million to rally organizers who together comprise almost all of the names on the permit, including:
- Maggie Mulvaney, “VIP Lead”
The Trump campaign paid Mulvaney at least $138,000 through November 2020. She is a niece of former Trump aide Mick Mulvaney, who currently serves as Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is the Trump campaign’s director of finance operations and manager of external affairs.
- Megan Powers, “Operations Manager for Scheduling and Guidance”
The Trump campaign paid Powers around $290,000 while she was on its payroll from February 2019 through at least November 2020. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is the campaign’s director of operations – a position she assumed after being a senior advisor and press secretary for NASA (April 2018 to January 2019). Before that she worked as a press representative for the White House (January 2017 to April 2018), the Presidential Inauguration Committee (December 2016 – January 2017), and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (June 2015 – November 2016).
- Hannah Salem, “Operations Manager for Logistics and Communications”
Salem spent three years as a senior White House press aide, according to her LinkedIn profile.
- Caroline Wren, “VIP Advisor”
The Trump campaign paid Wren at least $20,000 each month from March to November – totaling $170,000. She was the campaign’s national finance consultant for its joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee. Wren is a veteran GOP fundraiser and was finance director for the 2014 re-election campaign of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
- Justin Caporale, “Production Vendor” and “Project Manager”
The Trump campaign paid Caporale more than $144,000 in direct payroll payments in the one-year period leading up to November 2020. He was the Trump campaign’s advance director.
- Tim Unes, “Stage Manager”
The Trump campaign paid Unes more than $117,000 through November 2020. He is Caporale’s business partner in Event Strategies, Inc., which received more than $1.7 million from Trump’s campaign and joint fundraising committee.
- James Oaks, “Operations Associate”
The Trump campaign paid Oakes $126,000 in salary through at least November 2016.
- Ronald Holden, “Backstage Manager”
Trump’s campaign paid Holden around $72,000 for payroll and consulting in early 2020.
- William Wilson, “Backstage Assistant”
The Trump campaign started paying Wilson in October 2020 with around $6,000 in payments for advanced consulting through November 2020 alone.
Dec. 27, 2020: Trump tweets, “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it. Information to follow.”
Dec. 31: Acting Attorney General Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue meet with Jeffrey Clark, assistant attorney general of the environment and natural resources division, whom Trump had also named acting head of the civil division in September 2020. Rosen and Donoghue tell Clark to stop pushing Trump’s false conspiracy theories about election fraud. Unbeknownst to Rosen and Donoghue, Clark had been meeting privately with Trump, who had embraced Clark’s theories and support.
Jan. 2, 2021: Trump holds an hour-long phone call pressuring Georgia election officials to change the state’s voting outcome.
- “And you are going to find that they [the ballots] are — which is totally illegal — it is more illegal for you than it is for them because, you know, what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal, that’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. And that’s a big risk…”
- “I mean, I’m notifying you that you’re letting it happen. So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state…”
- “You know, and I watched you this morning and you said, uh, well, there was no criminality. But I mean, all of this stuff is very dangerous stuff. When you talk about no criminality, I think it’s very dangerous for you to say that.”
The Georgia election officials tell Trump – point by point – that he is wrong factually and refuse his request. Someone on the call is taping it.
*CNN later reports that between the election and Trump’s call, the White House had attempted to reach Raffensperger’s office 18 times.
Jan. 3, 2021: Replying to a #StoptheSteal tweet from one of the rally organizers, Trump tweets:“I will be there. Historic day.”
Also on Jan., 3: Acting Defense Secretary Miller and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley meet with Trump and he concurs in activation of the DC National Guard “to support law enforcement.”
Jan. 3, midday: After meeting with Trump, Assistant Attorney General Clark informs Acting Attorney General Rosen that Trump intends to replace Rosen with Clark, who could then try to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College results. He says that Rosen could stay on as his deputy attorney general, leaving Rosen speechless. Rosen works with White House counsel Pat Cipollone to secure a meeting with Trump that evening.
Jan. 3, 6:00 p.m.: Rosen, Donoghue, and Clark meet at the White House with Trump, Cipollone, his deputy Patrick Philbin, and other lawyers. Trump has Rosen and Clark present their competing arguments to him. Top lawyers in the Justice Department tell Trump that if he fires Rosen, all of them will resign. Three hours after the meeting began, Trump decides that Clark’s plan would fail and allows Rosen to remain as acting attorney general.
Jan. 3, late night: Under pressure from the White House, a top Justice Department official calls the US attorney in Atlanta, Byung Pak. He says that Trump is furious that there is no federal investigation into Georgia voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Because the recording of Trump’s January 2 call with Georgia election officials had surfaced earlier in the day, Pak says that he is thinking about resigning. On the January 2 call, Trump had complained that Pak is a “never Trumper.” The White House indicates that Pak should resign immediately.
Trump then calls the US attorney in Savannah, Georgia, Bobby Christine. Trump says that he wants Christine to replace Pak, bypassing the longstanding protocol of elevating the number two person in Pak’s office. That move puts Christine in charge of two US attorney offices.
The following day, Pak submits his resignation due to “unforeseen circumstances.”
Also on Jan. 3: An internal Capitol Police intelligence report warns of a violent scenario in which “Congress itself” could be the target of angry Trump supporters in the upcoming rally.
“Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” the memo states. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”
Jan. 4: Miller issues a memo to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy requiring Miller’s “personal authorization” for the DC National Guard to employ “riot control agents” and other tactics, including “ballistic protection equipment such as helmets and body armor.” The limitations also include sharing equipment with law enforcement agencies and using “Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance assets” or conducting ISR activities. The memo states that McCarthy “may deploy the DCNG Quick Reaction Force only as a last resort and in response to a request from an appropriate civil authority.”
Jan. 4: The National Park Service increases the crowd estimate on the January 6 rally permit to 30,000 – up from the original 5,000 in December.
Also on Jan. 4: Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund asks the Senate and House sergeants at arms for permission to put the National Guard on emergency standby. They reject that idea and suggest instead that he informally seek out his Guard contacts, asking them to “lean forward” and be on alert in case the Capitol Police need help.
Jan. 5: The FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia issues a warning that extremists are preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war.” The office shares the information with its counterparts in the Washington, DC office.
Also on Jan. 5: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) receives a call from White House Political Director Brian Jack asking him to speak at the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6. Brooks agrees.
January 6, 2021
8:17 a.m.: Trump tweets: “States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”
10:00 a.m.: Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally is underway. Addressing the crowd, Donald Trump Jr. says, “If you’re going to be the zero and not the hero, we’re coming for you, and we’re going to have a good time doing it.”
11:15 a.m.: A mile-and-a-half from the rally, a group of 200 to 300 protesters arrives at the Capitol reflecting pool area near the west side of the building.
10:50 a.m.: Speaking at the rally, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani says, “Let’s have trial by combat.”
Noon: Trump begins to address the mob and continues speaking for more than an hour.
- “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”
- “We won this election, and we won it by a landslide. This was not a close election.”
- “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so, because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election… All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people.”
12:30 p.m.: As Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) enters the Capitol for the joint session of Congress that will certify Biden’s election, he gives a thumbs up, a fist pump, and a wave to Trump’s mob.
1:00 p.m.: While Trump continues his rant to the mob, some members of Trump’s crowd have already reached the US Capitol building where Congress assembles in joint session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. An initial wave of protesters storms the outer barricade west of the Capitol building. As the congressional proceedings begin, Pence reads a letter saying that he won’t intervene in Congress’s electoral count: “My oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority.”
1:09 p.m.: DC Capitol Police Chief Sund tells his superiors – House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger — that he wants an emergency declaration and to call in the National Guard.
1:11 p.m.: Trump ends his speech by urging his followers to march down Pennsylvania Avenue:“We fight like hell. If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore… Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun… We’re going to the Capitol. We’re going to try and give them [Republicans] the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
If the District of Columbia were a state, its governor alone could have deployed the National Guard to crush the riot. Instead, Trump and his Defense Department had that responsibility, and an unprecedent assault on a sacred institution of government succeeded, if only for a few hours.
(DoD Memo) 1:26 p.m.: The Capitol Police orders the evacuation of the Capitol complex.
*Among those later arrested is Federico Klein, who is a US State Department political appointee with a top-secret security clearance. In March 2021, Klein, a former Trump campaign employee before joining the State Department in January 2017, is charged with numerous felonies that include storming the Capitol and assaulting an officer with a riot shield.
1:30 p.m.: The crowd outside the building grows larger, eventually overtaking the Capitol Police and making its way up the Capitol steps. Suspicious packages – later confirmed to be pipe bombs – are found at Republican National Committee headquarters and Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington.
As the attack unfolds, Trump is initially pleased and disregards aides pleading with him to intercede. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) later says that, according to Trump aides, he is “delighted,” while “walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team [are]n’t as excited.” Trump initially rebuffs and resists requests to mobilize the National Guard.
(DoD Memo) 1:34 p.m.: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser asks Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy – who reports to Miller – for more federal help to deal with the mob.
Bowser is told that the request must first come from the Capitol Police.
(DoD Memo) 1:49 p.m.: The Capitol Police chief asks the commanding general of the DC National Guard for immediate assistance.
*The commanding general, Maj. Gen. William Walker, later testifies that he immediately notifies Army senior leadership of the request. The previous day, he had received an unusual restriction on deploying any quick reaction force service members unless Army secretary McCarthy explicitly approves is. Anticipating such approval, Walker begins to move National Guard members closer to the Capitol.
Also at 1:49 p.m.: Trump retweets a video of the rally, which includes his previous statements that: “our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you came up with, we will stop the steal. . . You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
1:59 p.m.: Sund receives the first report that rioters have reached the Capitol’s doors and windows and are attempting to break at least one window.
2:10 p.m.: Text and email alerts to all congressional staff warn those inside to stay away from windows and those outside to seek cover.
2:11 p.m.: Trump’s mob breaches the Capitol building – breaking windows, climbing inside, and opening doors for others to follow.
2:13 p.m.: Pence suddenly leaves the Senate floor and is moved to a nearby office.
2:14 p.m.: Rioters chase DC Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman up a flight of stairs and arrive on the landing near the office where Pence and his family are hiding. Goodman runs in the opposite direction – luring them away from Pence and the Senate chamber.
2:18 p.m.: Another text alert goes out to Capitol staff: “Due to security threat inside: immediately, move inside your office, take emergency equipment, lock the doors, take shelter.”
Around 2:20 p.m.: Hiding in a barricaded room, members of Congress and their aides make pleas for outside help. Among them is a senior adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who reaches a former law firm colleague, Will Levi. Levi had served as Attorney General William Barr’s chief of staff. From his home, Levi then calls FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich at the command center in the FBI’s Washington field office. Bowdich dispatches the first of three tactical teams to the Capitol, including one from the Washington field office and another from Baltimore.
During the attack: Among the members of Congress appealing directly to Trump for help is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). According to a later statement from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), “When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’” [Emphasis in original]
(DoD Memo) 2:22 p.m.: Army Secretary McCarthy discusses the situation at the Capitol with Mayor Bowser and her staff.
They are begging for additional National Guard assistance.Note the time. It’s been almost an hour since Bowser requested help.
2:24 p.m.: 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!”
After erecting a gallows on the Capitol grounds, the mob shouts, “Hang Mike Pence.” Rioters create another noose from a camera cord seized during an attack on an on-site news team.
2:26 p.m.: While the senators are in a temporary holding room after the Senate chamber is evacuated, Trump tries to call Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), but mistakenly reaches Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who hands the phone to Tuberville. Trump then tries to convince Tuberville to make additional objections to the Electoral College vote in an effort to block Congress’ certification of Biden’s win. The call is cut off because senators are asked to move to a secure location. “Mr. President, they’ve taken the vice president out,” Tuberville says. “They want me to get off the phone, I gotta go.’”
2:26 p.m.: Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund joins a conference call with several officials from the DC government, as well as officials from the Pentagon, including Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, director of the Army Staff. Piatt later issues a statement denying the statements attributed to him.
“I am making an urgent, urgent immediate request for National Guard assistance,” Sund says. “I have got to get boots on the ground.”
The DC contingent is flabbergasted when Piatt says that he could not recommend that his boss, Army Secretary McCarthy, approve the request. “I don’t like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background,” Piatt says. Again and again, Sund says that the situation is dire.
*The commanding general of the DC National Guard, Maj. Gen. William Walker, later testifies that the call includes Lt. Gen Charles Flynn – brother of former national security Mike Flynn, whom Trump pardoned after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI during the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign. Piatt and Flynn relay to Walker: “It wouldn’t be their best military advice to send uniformed guardsmen to the Capitol because they didn’t like the optics. And they had also said that it could ‘inflame’ [the protesters].”
2:28 p.m.: Rioters storm House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) suite of offices, pounding the doors trying to find her.
(D0D Memo) 2:30 p.m.: Miller, Army Secretary McCarthy, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff meet to discuss Mayor Bowser’s request.
2:33 p.m.: A broadcast on the emergency management agency channel in DC requests that all law enforcement officers in the city respond to the Capitol.
2:42 p.m.: As lawmakers are evacuating the House chamber using the Speaker’s Lobby, rioters breach the Lobby threshold.
2:52 p.m.: The first FBI SWAT team enters the Capitol.
2:53 p.m.: The last of a large group of House members has been evacuated and is headed for a secure location.
(DoD Memo) 3:04 p.m.: Miller gives “verbal approval” to full mobilization of the DC National Guard (1,100 members).
It has now been more than 90 minutes since Mayor Bowser first asked Army Secretary McCarthy for assistance. It took an hour for Defense Department officials to meet and another half-hour for them to decide to help. And Bowser still doesn’t know the status of her request.
(Memo) 3:19 p.m.: Pelosi and Schumer call Army Secretary McCarthy, who says that Bowser’s request has now been approved.
(Memo) 3:26 p.m.: Army Secretary McCarthy calls Bowser to tell her that her request for help has been approved.
The Defense Department’s notification of approval to Bowser came two hours after her request.
While Miller and his team were slow-walking Mayor Bowser’s request, she had sought National Guard assistance from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R). At about the same time, Speaker Pelosi called Northam directly for help and he agreed.
3:29 p.m.: Governor Northam announces mobilization of Virginia’s National Guard. But there’s a hitch. Federal law requires Defense Department authorization before any state’s National Guard can cross the state border onto federal land in DC. That approval doesn’t come until almost two hours later.
(DoD Memo) 3:47 p.m. Governor Hogan mobilizes his state’s National Guard and 200 state troopers.
The Defense Department “repeatedly denies” Hogan’s request to deploy the National Guard at the Capitol. As he awaits approval, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) callsHogan from the undisclosed bunker to which he, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have been evacuated. Hoyer pleads for assistance, saying that the Capitol Police is overwhelmed and there is no federal law enforcement presence.
4:17 p.m.: Trump tweets a video telling rioters, “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… It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us — from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. 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.”
(DoD Memo) 4:18 p.m.: Miller gives voice approval to notifying surrounding states to muster and be prepared to mobilize their National Guard personnel.
(DoD Memo) 4:32 p.m.: Miller gives verbal authorization to “re-mission” DC National Guard from city posts where most have been directing traffic and monitoring subway stations “to conduct perimeter and clearance operations” in support of the Capitol Police force.
4:40 p.m.: More than 90 minutes after Governor Hogan had requested federal approval to send his state’s National Guard troops to DC, Army Secretary McCarthy calls and asks, “Can you come as soon as possible?” Hogan responds, “Yeah. We’ve been waiting. We’re ready.”
*5:08 p.m.: More than three hours after Maj. Gen. Walker’s request for approval to deploy the National Guard at the Capitol, he receives approval.
*5:20 p.m.: After being ready for hours, 155 members of the National Guard arrive at the Capitol. According to Maj. Gen. Walker’s later testimony, earlier assistance “could have made a difference” in pushing back the crowd.
(DoD Memo) 5:45 p.m.: Miller signs formal authorization for out-of-state National Guard personnel to muster and gives voice approval for deployment to support the Capitol Police.
The first Maryland National Guard personnel don’t arrive at the Capitol until January 7 at 10:00 a.m. The first Virginia National Guard members arrive at Noon.
6:01 p.m.: 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!”
7:00 p.m.: Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, intends to call Sen. Tuberville but, like Trump five hours earlier, he reaches Sen. Lee. Unaware that he has reached the wrong number, Giuliani leaves a voicemail message saying, “Sen. Tuberville? Or I should say Coach Tuberville. This is Rudy Giuliani, the President’s lawyer. I’m calling you because I want to discuss with you how they’re trying to rush this hearing and how we need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you. I know they’re reconvening at 8 tonight, but it … the only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow — ideally until the end of tomorrow.”
When Congress resumes the session at 8:06 p.m., Tuberville votes in favor of objections to certifying Biden’s election.
(DoD Memo) 8:00 p.m.: The DC Capitol Police declare the Capitol building secure.
The Aftermath of the Attack
8:31 p.m.: After widespread media reports that Pence, not Trump, had actually given the order to deploy the National Guard, Kash Patel – Miller’s chief of staff and former top aide to Rep. Nunes – tells the New York Times, “The acting secretary and the president have spoken multiple times this week about the request for National Guard personnel in D.C. During these conversations, the president conveyed to the acting secretary that he should take any necessary steps to support civilian law enforcement requests in securing the Capitol and federal buildings.”
But according to the Defense Department’s January 8 memo, the only such conversation with Trump occurred on January 3.
Jan. 7: US Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick dies from injuries he sustained while defending against the attack. About 140 law enforcement officers suffer injuries such as cracked ribs, crushed spinal discs, stab wounds from a metal fence stake, concussions from head blows with objects that include metal poles ripped from inauguration-related scaffolding and even a pole with an American flag attached. Other injuries are swollen ankles and wrists, bruised arms and legs, and irritated lungs from bear and pepper spray. In the three weeks following the attack, another 38 officers who responded to the riot test positive for the coronavirus. Two officers responding on the scene die by suicide.
Jan. 7: Amid growing criticism over his fist pump to the mob shortly before it attacked the Capitol and his continuing objections after the attack to certifying Biden’s victory, Sen. Hawley issues a statement saying, “I will never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections. That’s my job, and I will keep doing it.”
Jan. 7: Trump releases a video in which he lies, saying, “I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders.” Defense Department officials confirm that they did not speak to Trump on January 6.
Jan. 8: Trump tweets: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
Shortly thereafter, he tweets again: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
Jan. 9: Twitter issues a statement saying that it has banned Trump because his “statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate… and encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending.”
Twitter’s statement continues, “The use of the words ‘American Patriots’ to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol. The mention of his supporters having a ‘GIANT VOICE long into the future’ and that ‘They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!’ is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an ‘orderly transition’ and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.”
The statement concludes: “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.”
Jan. 12: Preparing to board Marine One for Andrews Air Force Base en route to a speech in Alamo, Texas, Trump says, “And on the impeachment, it’s really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics. It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you’re doing it, and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing. For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country and it’s causing tremendous anger.”
Also on Jan. 12: As he prepares to board Air Force One, Trump says, “So if you read my speech — and many people have done it, and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television — it’s been analyzed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.
And if you look at what other people have said — politicians at a high level — about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle, in various other — other places, that was a real problem — what they said. But they’ve analyzed my speech and words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody, to the T, thought it was totally appropriate.”
Also on Jan. 12: Speaking to his Texas audience, Trump says, “Before we begin, I’d like to say that free speech is under assault like never before. The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the expression goes: Be careful what you wish for. The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country, and it is causing tremendous anger and division and pain — far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time.”
Also on Jan. 12: The House Judiciary Committee issues a 76-page report of the events before, during and after the January riot that culminated in the deaths of five Americans, including a US Capitol Police officer. It concludes, “President Trump has falsely asserted he won the 2020 presidential election and repeatedly sought to overturn the results of the election. As his efforts failed again and again, President Trump continued a parallel course of conduct that foreseeably resulted in the imminent lawless actions of his supporters, who attacked the Capitol and the Congress. This course of conduct, viewed within the context of his past actions and other attempts to subvert the presidential election, demonstrate that President Trump remains a clear and present danger to the Constitution and our democracy.”
Jan. 13: As the article of impeachment and House Report head to the House floor for a vote, CNN reports that members of Congress, under pressure from Trump, are “scared” and “fear for their lives and their families.” Appearing on MSNBC, Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) says, “I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues. … A couple of them broke down in tears … saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.”
Later that day, 10 Republicans join all House Democrats to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” by a vote of 232 to 197.
*Jan. 13: Senate Majority Leader McConnell says he’s open to convicting Trump for inciting the insurrection. But he also states that the Senate trial will not begin before Trump leaves office.
Jan. 16: Acting Defense Secretary Miller orders National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone to install former White House official Michael Ellis as the NSA’s top lawyer by 6:00 p.m. Later that afternoon, Ellis formally accepts the NSA’s job offer.
*Jan. 19: McConnell takes the Senate floor and says, “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government, which they did not like.”
Jan. 20: Shortly after Biden’s inauguration, Nakasone, places Ellis on leave pending a Pentagon inspector general inquiry into the circumstances of his selection as NSA general counsel.
Jan. 22: Speaker Pelosi announces that she will transmit the article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate on Monday, January 25. The Senate will delay the start of Trump’s trial until the week of February 8, as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) requested.
Jan. 26:By a 55-45 vote, the Senate rejects Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) motion to declare the impeachment proceedings against Trump unconstitutional. Convicting Trump after trial will require a two-thirds vote of senators present for the vote.
Feb. 10: The top prosecutor in Fulton County Georgia, which covers most of Atlanta, has opened an investigation into efforts to influence the state’s 2020 presidential election.
Feb. 12: After Trump’s legal team finishes presenting its case to the Senate, Rep. Beutler releases a statement confirming Minority Leader McCarthy’s conversation with Trump during the insurrection: “When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’” [Emphasis in original]
Feb. 12: The top prosecutor in Fulton County Georgia says that her office’s investigation will include Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) November phone call to Secretary of State Raffensperger about mail-in ballots, the abrupt removal last month of US attorney Pak who had refused Trump’s debunked assertions about election fraud, and false claims that Rudy Giuliani made before the state’s legislative committees.
Feb. 13: Based on Rep. Beutler’s newly-released statement, Lead House Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin (D-MD) asks the Senate to permit the deposition of Rep. Beutler. Trump’s legal team objects, claiming that it will call 100 witnesses if the request is granted. By a 55-45 vote, the Senate approves calling witnesses. Immediately after the vote, the Senate recesses. House managers and Trump’s counsel agree to read Rep. Beutler’s statement into the record, rather than subpoena her to testify.
Later that afternoon, seven Republicans join all Democrats for a 57-43 vote in favor of convicting Trump – 10 short of the two-thirds required for conviction. Republicans voting to convict are Sens. Richard Burr (NC), William Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), Ben Sasse (NE). and Pat Toomey (PA).
After Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) votes to acquit Trump, he gives a speech on the Senate floor blaming him for the insurrection: “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, unless the statute of limitations has run… He didn’t get away with anything yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation.”
*Feb. 25: McConnell says he will “absolutely” support Trump if he is the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.
Trump’s second impeachment trial is over, but the fight to save American democracy remains. And it still boils down to a single defining question:
Which side are you on?