The timeline of events on January 6, 2021, both before and during the U.S. Capitol Building was under siege by armed Trump supporters, is becoming more clear thanks to White House aides and elected officials with inside knowledge about the president’s actions and whereabouts at the time. It makes Republican stories about a failure to act during the Benghazi raid look tame in comparison.
On the day before House Democrats bring articles of impeachment to the floor for a vote, it’s more important than ever to understand those details.
Weeks ahead of the vote that Trump would later contest, the Trump campaign began sending emails to supporters calling on them to “join the Trump Army” and the “first line of defense” for the president.
Following the election, which Trump declared fraudulent even before the first vote was cast, Trump invited supporters to attend his “Save America” rally, which became a siege on the capitol.
Both the FBI and the NYPD say they warned Capitol Police about dangers expected to arise as a result of the rally. While none have said publicly that they warned the White House, it’s difficult to imagine that they wouldn’t.
According to NBC News:
‘The FBI and the New York City Police Department passed information to U.S. Capitol Police about the possibility of violence during the protests Wednesday against the counting of the Electoral College vote.’
NEW: FBI and NYPD told Capitol Police about possibility of violence before riot, senior law enforcement officials say; FBI visited more than a dozen extremists to urge them not to travel to Washington. https://t.co/TMKoZ1rqyE
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 10, 2021
At the rally, a number of Trump backers spoke to the angry crowd, making statements guaranteed to rile them up and whip them into a frenzy.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL): “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”
Donald Trump, Jr.: “To those Republicans, many of which may be voting on things in the coming hours: You have an opportunity today. You can be a hero, or you can be a zero. And the choice is yours. But we are all watching. The whole world is watching, folks. Choose wisely…we’re coming after you!”
Rudy Giuliani: “Let’s have trial by combat!”
Donald Trump: “We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
Trump told his supporters he would go with them to the Capitol Building. Instead, he and his family, as well as their backers at the rally, fled to safety in the White House.
As the Capitol Building came under siege, Republican and Democratic lawmakers pleaded for help from the National Guard. Rep. Steny Hoyer (R-MD) called Governor Larry Hogan from his home state of Maryland, which borders Washington, D.C., and called on him to send in Maryland’s National Guard. Hogan said later that he would have done so immediately, but couldn’t reach anyone to approve it.
According to a local Maryland NBC affiliate, Hogan said that Rep. Steny Hoyer (R-MD) pleaded with him to send in the National Guard.
‘[Hoyer] said that the U.S. Capitol Police was overwhelmed, that there was no federal law enforcement presence and that the leaders of Congress were pleading with me, as the Governor of Maryland, for assistance from Maryland’s National Guard and State Police.’
Regarding the delay, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan told POLITICO:
‘”Our Guard mobilized and was ready but we couldn’t actually cross over the border into D.C. Without the OK. It took some time, we had to run it up the flag pole, our generals talking to the Washington generals. We had been mobilizing. We had our police there, we had our Guard mobilized and we were just waiting for that call.”
“According to a timeline released by the Defense Department, the Capitol was ordered evacuated around 1 p.m. Hogan ordered a full mobilization of Maryland Guard forces at 3:47, and at 4:18, acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller gave the go-ahead for out-of-state units to be prepared to deploy. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Hogan spoke at 4:40, and the troops were expected to arrive the next day.’
Maryland's governor details panicked call from House Leader Hoyer, who was sheltering in a secure location with Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer. Pleading to send help. @OvettaWashPost reports: https://t.co/u1uIs6IMif pic.twitter.com/oD8j3J9eGe
— Libby Casey (@libcasey) January 7, 2021
During this time, a White House advisor told The Washington Post that Trump wasn’t answering calls from Republicans or Democrats trapped inside the Capitol Building during the siege. Instead, he was focused on watching the events unfold on live television.
‘As senators and House members trapped inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday begged for immediate help during the siege, they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery TV images of the crisis unfolding around them to act or even bother to hear their pleas.
‘“He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,” said one close Trump adviser. “If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.”’
"'He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,' said one close Trump adviser. 'If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.'"
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) January 12, 2021
He did, however, take time to mean tweet the Vice President while Pence and his wife sheltered in place during the siege.
‘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!’
Finally, Trump appeared in a video released on Twitter and since removed, and Trump told his violent, terrorist supporters to stand down. He also called the domestic terrorists “very special” and told him he loved them.
‘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.’
Shortly afterward, Trump tweeted justification for the siege and pushed conspiracy theory lies even while telling supporters to go in peace.