Live updates: The nation remembers the Jan. 6 insurrection

Published January 6, 2022 at 7:56 AM EST
Vice President Harris and President Biden arrive to give remarks at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
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Vice President Harris and President Biden arrive to give remarks at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

It has been a year since pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Officials and lawmakers gave a series of remarks and remembrances Thursday, beginning with President Biden, who strongly condemned the attack, and Vice President Harris, who called on the Senate to protect voting rights.

Read our updates from the day below, including reflections on what has and hasn't changed in the year since. Here are some of the highlights:

IMPACT

Lawmakers end Jan. 6 remembrance with a prayer vigil on Capitol steps

Posted January 6, 2022 at 6:14 PM EST
With the U.S. Capitol building in the background, a person holds a candle as a singer performs "Amazing Grace" during a vigil Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, in Washington, on the one year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
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AP
With the U.S. Capitol building in the background, a person holds a candle during a vigil on Thursday.

The Jan. 6 anniversary closed with a solemn vigil on the steps of the Capitol where one year earlier, insurrection threatened to disrupt American democracy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks as members of the House and Senate participate in a prayer vigil on the East Steps of Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, to mark the one year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters loyal to then-President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks as members of the House and Senate participate in a prayer vigil at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday.

Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry said a prayer for those who remain “traumatized" by that day's events, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a moment of silence for those who had fought to protect the Capitol and for those who had lost their lives.

Nearby the Capitol vigil, crowds gathered to mark the date as activists spoke about the importance of defending American democracy.

Impact

Lawmakers recount the personal terror of the Jan. 6 attack

Posted January 6, 2022 at 4:45 PM EST
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., speaks as members of Congress share recollections of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol on the one-year anniversary of the attack on Thursday.
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POOL AFP
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., speaks as members of Congress share recollections of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol on the one-year anniversary of the attack on Thursday.

House lawmakers, who at this time last year were thrust into chaos as pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol, marked the one-year anniversary of the deadly riot by recounting their firsthand experiences in the chamber that day.

Some representatives recalled the horror of realizing that violent rioters had breached the Capitol wall. Some said they feared they would be hurt or killed in the melee.

Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a 30-year veteran of the Congress, talked of learning that day that gas masks were kept under seats in the chamber.

Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat who had had her knee replaced and was using a cane at the time of the insurrection, recalled strategizing how she could use her cane or a gas mask as a weapon if she were threatened by rioters.

And Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, vowed not to let the day's events be swept under the rug. “I’m ready to stand with all of you patriots," she said. "I’m ready to not forget.”

Though the accounts of personal terror of those moments were vivid, lawmakers also stressed the importance of standing tall against threats to democracy and their determination not to be cowed by violent extremism.

“Being human is a courageous act. It means you are willing to fight for the things that are the hardest,” Jayapal said. “Our courage and resolve only grow from this crisis.”

Media

2 reporters who witnessed the attack reflect on what happened — and what's to come

Posted January 6, 2022 at 4:23 PM EST

Lisa Desjardins of the PBS NewsHour and Sarah Ferris of Politico were two of the journalists at the U.S. Capitol when it was attacked last January. Both reporters spoke with NPR's All Things Considered on Monday and say tensions remain among members of Congress. Here are some of their observations:

The anger that many Democrats feel toward their Republican counterparts remains

“I think people have taken a little bit of a breath just this last two weeks that I haven't felt for the rest of the year,” Desjardins said. “But that said, underneath it all, those raw emotions are just as present. And for some of them, they're -- they've been growing.”

There is a lot of politics around Jan. 6, and this will likely show up in the midterm elections

“The truth of it is that there are a large group of Republicans who believe it was a dangerous day and who will tell you that off [the] record, and they will say something different on record,” Desjardins said. “That leads to a very complicated situation for public dialogue and for members of Congress themselves to sort out the day.”

Security measures are not as visibly heightened as they were in the weeks directly after the attack, but it still doesn’t feel like normal

“Anybody who was in the building that day, anybody who was in or near the chamber, even folks who weren't, who were watching their workplace be desecrated from afar, the mental aspect of this has been really intense and has changed the building in a lot of ways and not just staffers -- members, too,” Ferris said. “I've talked to many Democratic members who say Jan. 6 was a reason that they are retiring, and that's just the truth.”

Social media

What's next in the Jan. 6 investigations

Posted January 6, 2022 at 4:20 PM EST

NPR’s Domenico Montanaro, Ryan Lucas and Claudia Grisales held a conversation in Twitter Spaces that recapped President Biden's and Vice President Harris' remarks regarding the Jan. 6 anniversary. They took audience questions on what happens next for the Biden administration and the Jan. 6 House Committee. They were joined by former U.S. assistant attorney, author and legal analyst Kimberly Wehle, who spoke about the criminal cases against the insurrectionistsand what the cases tell us so far.

History

Members of Congress and historians stress the need to preserve the historical record

Posted January 6, 2022 at 3:53 PM EST
Historian Jon Meacham (center) speaks as historian Doris Kearns Goodwin (right) and Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden listen during an event on Capitol Hill.
Susan Walsh
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AP Pool
Historian Jon Meacham (center) speaks as historian Doris Kearns Goodwin (right) and Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden listen during an event on Capitol Hill on Thursday on how "to establish and preserve the narrative of January 6th."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., held a panel discussion in the Capitol on Thursday afternoon to "preserve the historical record of Jan. 6."

Pelosi was joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden moderated the roundtable with historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham. Afterward, members of Congress provided testimonials of their experience from the day one year ago when the Capitol came under attack.

"It is said that truth dies when people stop speaking it. Well, it will not die on our watch," Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., said.

"We had a front row seat to what lies, hate or what pain old misinformation conjures. We went from victims to witnesses and today, we are messengers," Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., said. "Jan. 6 was about so much more than an effort to break into a building. It was an effort to break down our institutions."

Other Democratic members spoke about how their Republican colleagues have undermined the effort to accurately remember what happened at the insurrection, which further underscores the need to put what truly happened on the record and continue to remember it. Several members spoke of how close they were to their lives being in danger.

Goodwin said the Jan. 6 select committee's investigation is a chance to "retell" the story of the insurrection instead of the "alternative narrative" that developed.

When asked by Hayden where the country goes forward from here, historian Meacham said, "We don't know."

"This is a chapter. It's not the end of the story," he said. "And if it is the end of the story, then we have failed in a way as a people that world will forever condemn."

Looking ahead

Rep. Andy Kim, who cleaned up after rioters, calls to make Jan. 6 a day of service

Posted January 6, 2022 at 3:45 PM EST
Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., cleans up debris and personal belongings strewn across the floor of the Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 7, 2021.
Andrew Harnik/AP
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AP
Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., cleans up debris and personal belongings strewn across the floor of the Rotunda in the early morning hours of Jan. 7, 2021, after rioters stormed the Capitol in Washington.

The best way for Americans to mark the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is by helping others, Rep. Andy Kim said Thursday. By doing so, Kim said, the country could move closer to its traditional motto of e pluribus unum (out of many, one).

The sight of Kim on his knees, cleaning up trash that insurgents had scattered on the floor of the Capitol Rotunda, became a lasting image of the Jan. 6 attack. But the Democrat from New Jersey said the most persistent harm from that day isn't the blight it placed on the house of Congress but “the selfish silence and purposeful amnesia afterwards.”

In a series of tweets on the Jan. 6 anniversary, Kim revisited what he and his colleagues experienced that day, when the seat of American democracy was plunged into violence and uncertainty.

“A year later, the most vivid memory I have of Jan 6 is the moment I returned to the House chamber after the riot had been quelled,” Kim said. “I stepped over broken glass to get into the chamber. What ensued over the next hour was the most powerful experience of my career.”

Kim described how, as members of Congress sought to regroup after order was finally restored, he hoped lawmakers might find a new sense of common purpose after the Capitol was attacked. For a brief moment, he recalled, that seemed to happen. But then the politicians turned to the matter of Joe Biden’s defeat of President Donald Trump.

“When speeches switched back to electoral college debate, I felt something change in the room,” Kim said. “I watched people pull out the same speech about election fraud they were going to give before, as if the riot never happened.”

“The prospect of unity lasted only 35min and 53 seconds,” he wrote.

But the country can still be united, Kim said in his Jan. 6 message. And it should start with service to others, he added, proposing that the date of the insurrection become a “day of common good.”

“The goal is not to reset the clock to Jan5, but instead to understand clearly the job in front of us,” Kim wrote. “Our job is to be caretakers. Our job is to heal this country and hand it off to our successors.”

Politics

Rep. Liz Cheney's principled, lonely stand against her party

Posted January 6, 2022 at 3:12 PM EST
Former Vice President Dick Cheney walks with his daughter Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington on Thursday.
Manuel Balce Ceneta
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AP
Former Vice President Dick Cheney walks with his daughter Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington on Thursday.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, were among the only Republicans present for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s moment of silence to mark the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, highlighting the political isolation Cheney faces from her public break with former President Donald Trump.

A striking image of the event shows both Cheneys on the front row of the Republican side of the nearly empty floor. Republicans have sought to downplay the severity of the attack that left many lawmakers fearing for their lives and having to flee for their safety. The GOP has in large part declined to participate in the day’s events.

The Democratic side was also sparser than normal, partly because of the pandemic.

Cheney is one of only two Republicans sitting on the House select committee investigating the attack and is the higher-ranking of the two. But that distinction has not won her many friends with fellow Republicans, who often dismiss Democrats’ frustration over the attack as left-wing hand-wringing.

Republicans have also sought to avoid directing too much criticism toward former President Donald Trump, who remains relatively popular among Republican voters and whose repeated lies about the sanctity of the presidential race ultimately spurred the deadly riot.

Liz Cheney has broken rank on both points, calling for accountability for those who played a role in promoting the Capitol chaos and publicly criticizing Trump and his allies for what she views as their role in degrading American democracy.

Such is the rancor toward Cheney within her own party that late last year, Wyoming Republicans voted to no longer consider her a member of the GOP.

Still, Cheney has remained publicly undaunted by the desertion of many within her party.

“Anyone who denies the truth of what happened on January 6th ought to be ashamed of themselves,” she wrote in a tweet. “We know what happened. History is watching and history will judge them.”

Remarks

Schumer calls out Trump and pushes for voting rights legislation

Posted January 6, 2022 at 2:45 PM EST
A man wearing a suit and dark face mask walks through Statuary Hall.
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Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., walks through Statuary Hall of the U.S Capitol on Thursday.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor Thursday to speak out against lies about the 2020 election and to push for voting rights legislation.

Many people are “working to rewrite the history of what happened,” the New York Democrat said.

Schumer said the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, didn’t come out of the blue nor was it a protest that got out of hand. He said it was “an attempt to reverse — through violent means — the outcome of a free and fair election.”

And he laid the blame at the feet of the former president.

“It was Donald Trump's ‘Big Lie’ that soaked our political landscape in kerosene. It was Donald Trump's rally on the wall that struck the match. Then came the fire," Schumer said.

And he added the big lie continues to this day, noting the attacks on democracy, as well as election officials, and the push by some state legislatures to enact more restrictive voting laws.

Schumer said the Senate must pass legislation “to defend our democracy. To protect the right to vote.” Schumer’s past attempts to advance voting rights have failed because of the legislative filibuster. He has talked about changing Senate rules, but that will still require all 50 senators who caucus with Democrats to agree and Schumer currently does not have the votes.

In recent days, Democrats and Republicans have floated the idea of doing something narrower, reforming the Electoral Count Act. But Schumer said that’s an attempt to “divert attention” from the real issue. He called it “unacceptable” and “insufficient.”

Impact

Rep. Jamie Raskin reflects on growing through trauma in the year since Jan. 6 and his son's death

Posted January 6, 2022 at 2:30 PM EST
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 22: Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) speaks to reporters outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office following a meeting with members of the select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection on July 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. The select committee is scheduled to hold its first hearing next week. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
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Rep. Jamie Raskin tells NPR that taking on leadership roles to try to hold people accountable for the deadly riot is what his son, who died a week before the insurrection, would have wanted him to do.

One year ago this week, Rep. Jamie Raskin buried his only son, Tommy, who had died by suicide on New Year’s Eve.

The next day, Jan. 6, Raskin watched in horror as violent pro-Trump extremists breached the Capitol and sought to stop the Maryland congressman and his colleagues from certifying Joe Biden’s election victory.

Despite feeling as though he was “drowning in grief and agony” after his son’s death, as he told NPR, Raskin used the events of Jan. 6 as motivation to do his part to protect American democracy. A constitutional law professor, Raskin led the ignominiously historic second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump and later served on the House select committee to investigate the Capitol insurrection.

“A lot of my colleagues were saying, ‘Well, Jamie is throwing himself in this as a way to avoid the grief’ and so on, but I have to say, that was not my self-consciousness at the time,” Raskin said in a Wednesday interview with NPR’sAll Things Considered.

“I was really thinking Tommy was in my heart, he was in my chest. I felt him with me, and this was something I needed to do for him, for our family, for my constituents, for our country.”

Raskin said that had his son been alive, he would have been crushed to see America’s democracy become so compromised under the stress of a single leader, Trump, who Raskin says has “fascistic delusions.”

“Tommy hated probably one thing in his life, and that was fascism. That was people exercising violent power and control over other people to inflict pain and suffering on them,” Raskin said. Taking on leadership roles to try to hold people accountable for the deadly riot, he said, was his “best understanding of what Tommy would have had me do."

Raskin's memoir, Unthinkable, is out this week. Read a review of the book, which also delves into the lessons from the past year.

🔊 Listen to the full interview with Raskin, and read the highlights from a separate conversation with Fresh Air's Terry Gross.


If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Politics

Trump issues a series of conspiracy-laden statements in lieu of a speech

Posted January 6, 2022 at 2:07 PM EST
Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Oct. 9, 2021.
Scott Olson
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Former President Donald Trump released a series of statements reiterating his false claims about the presidential election that he lost: “Never forget the crime of the 2020 Presidential Election."

Former President Donald Trump released a flurry of conspiracy-laden statements on Thursday, defending his supporters for their role in the deadly Capitol attack one year ago and spouting further falsehoods about the outcome of the 2020 White House race.

By early afternoon, Trump had released four statements of varying length and riddled with considerable lies about his election loss.

“To watch Biden speaking is very hurtful to many people. They're the ones who tried to stop the peaceful transfer with a rigged election,” Trump wrote in his latest missive.

Pro-Trump rioters — drawn to Washington by his repeated lies about election malfeasance and his claims that the process had been rigged against his supporters — stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in an attempt to halt the certification of Biden’s election victory. Some chanted violent, anti-American slogans. Some in the crowd threatened to murder sitting lawmakers whom they viewed as Trump’s political opponents.

“They spread a 'web of lies’ about me and Russia for 4 years to try to overturn the 2016 election, and now they lie about how they interfered in the 2020 Election, too. Big Tech was used illegally,” Trump said, citing no evidence to support his provably false claims.

“Never forget the crime of the 2020 Presidential Election. Never give up!” he added.

Trump had planned to deliver a speech on the anniversary of the Capitol attack, but he canceled his address this week, saying that he would instead save his remarks for a rally in Arizona later this month.

Public opinion

Millions of Americans sympathize with the Capitol rioters, researchers say

Posted January 6, 2022 at 1:20 PM EST
A person wearing an American flag bandana on their head, sunglasses patterned with American flags and American flag face-paint looks past the camera.
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Jacob Chansley, known as the "QAnon shaman," attends a Trump rally in Dalton, Ga., on Jan. 4, 2021.

As many as 21 million adults sympathize with the rioters who violently stormed the U.S. Capitol last January, a new survey from the University of Chicago suggests.

The researchers who authored the study call this population the “American insurrectionist movement.”

The study found these Americans sit at the intersection of two beliefs, NPR domestic extremism reporter Odette Yousef says. Listen here.

“First, the lie that the election was stolen and that President Biden is an illegitimate president. And second, that using force to restore former President Trump to the White House is justified,” Yousef says.

Researchers found the average person to fit this profile was a late millennial or Gen Xer who may feel they are under siege for their political and ideological beliefs.

The University of Chicago's Robert Pape, an author of the study, says the study suggests that when there is widespread support for an insurrectionist movement, people are less likely to inform authorities of violence before it happens and that actors involved may feel they have a mandate for violence.

“I think of particular concern is that we're seeing the same doubts planted already about the results of the upcoming midterm elections,” Yousef says.

Remarks

Pelosi thanks those whose heroism allowed Congress to 'defeat the insurrection'

Posted January 6, 2022 at 12:52 PM EST
Men wearing suits and a woman in a red jacket walk through the Capitol as photographers snap photos from the side of the hallway.
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Pool UPI
President Joe Biden arrives with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, on his way to speak from Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol to mark the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot.

In remarks from the House floor, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised law enforcement and congressional staffers for their courage and patriotism last Jan. 6, which she said allowed lawmakers to carry out their constitutional duty and, in doing so, "defeat the insurrection."

She cited the police officers who protected the Capitol complex and people within it, and the staffers who safeguarded the mahogany boxes containing the ballots needed to certify the election.

"Because of them, Congress was able to defeat the insurrection, to return to the Capitol that same night to ensure that the peaceful transfer of power took place," she said. "Because of them and our members, the insurrection failed."

She also acknowledged the officers who lost their lives on that day and in a separate attack outside of the Capitol in April. The few lawmakers in the nearly empty chamber stood for a moment of silence in their honor.

Pelosi said there have been "continued assaults on democracy" and efforts to undermine the integrity of the vote. She urged listeners to honor the vision of America's founders, and the sacrifice of the men and women in uniform who defended those freedoms with their lives.

Pelosi acknowledged that attendance on Thursday was limited because of the surging pandemic (cases are skyrocketing on the Hill, as NPR has reported). She said there will be a full House event to acknowledge their heroism, when Congress' doctor permits.

The House is out of session this week, and only a few dozen House members — many of whom were locked in the chamber last year as rioters invaded the building — were present. Also attending were GOP Rep. Liz Cheney and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Politics

Jimmy Carter says the U.S. ‘teeters on the brink of a widening abyss’

Posted January 6, 2022 at 12:48 PM EST
Former President Jimmy Carter in 2018.
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Former President Jimmy Carter warned in an op-ed in The New York Times that the country is at risk of "losing our precious democracy.”

Former President Jimmy Carter warns that America is at "genuine risk" of losing its democracy one year after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Rather than face a reckoning after the insurrection, Carter says, the U.S. political system continues to suffer from a scourge of disinformation and a departure from norms of fairness and respect.

“Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss,” Carter wrote in an opinion piece for The New York Times. “Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy.”

The former president, whose Carter Center has for decades worked to ensure fair elections around the world, said that the violent mob who tried to stop the U.S. Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s defeat of President Donald Trump was “guided by unscrupulous politicians” who are more interested in gaining power than preserving U.S. democratic institutions.

Rather than triggering a rejection of what Carter calls “toxic polarization,” Carter said, “promoters of the lie that the election was stolen have taken over one political party and stoked distrust in our electoral systems.”

Carter laid out five steps he says the U.S. must take to protect its electoral process:

  1. Regardless of their political affiliation, people must agree to respect the rule of law and reject violence, handling election disputes through the courts;
  2. Any reforms should “ensure the security and accessibility of our elections and ensure public confidence in the accuracy of results;”
  3. Americans must embrace civility over polarization, focusing on their shared goals to live in a thriving country;
  4. Election officials must be protected and armed militias should be barred from events, in a process that also addresses the U.S. legacy of racial injustice;
  5. Disinformation must be stamped out. Carter urged businesses and religious communities to “encourage respect for democratic norms, participation in elections and efforts to counter disinformation.”
Public opinion

New polls show that most Americans worry about democracy but see Jan. 6 along party lines

Posted January 6, 2022 at 12:20 PM EST
A bird flies over the U.S. Capitol on a grey day.
Mandel Ngan
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AFP via Getty Images
Some 49% of Americans consider the protests at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to be an insurrection and a threat to U.S. democracy.

We're hearing statements from some politicians, warnings from historians and reflections from those directly affected by the events of last Jan. 6.

But how is the general public making sense of that day, one year later? Two polls, released this week, give us an idea.

Most Americans agree the investigation is appropriate, but not everyone considers the events of Jan. 6 "an insurrection."

A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National poll finds deep partisan divisions underscore people's perception of the events, impact and aftermath of Jan. 6.

"Both Democrats and Republicans believe that U.S. democracy is under threat," says Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. "But they overwhelmingly disagree over the meaning of the events of Jan. 6 and the motivation behind the investigation into the events of that day."

Here are some of the takeaways:

  • Some 49% of Americans consider the events of Jan. 6 to be an insurrection and a threat to U.S. democracy, 25% believe it was a political protest protected under the First Amendment, and 19% say the incident was unfortunate but does not have implications for the future.
  • Those numbers break down along party lines, with 89% of Democrats considering it an insurrection and 45% of Republicans calling it a political protest.
  • More than six in 10 Americans (62%) think the House investigation into the day’s events is appropriate and not a witch hunt (35%).
  • A majority — but decreasing — percentage of Americans blame former President Donald Trump for the day's events. While 58% of Americans blamed Trump as of mid-January 2021, that number is now down to 53%.
  • Most Americans agree that democracy is in danger. Some 78% of Americans think the issues that divide the nation pose a serious threat to democracy. Overall, 55% think political tensions in their community have stayed the same, 39% believe they have intensified and just 4% think they have become less extreme.

In fact, many Americans believe the country and democracy itself are "in crisis and at risk of failing" — despite polarized views on voting rights and political violence.

A new NPR/Ipsos poll offers more insights into how Americans perceive the fragility of democracy as well as their views on the legacy of Jan. 6, the state of election integrity and voting rights and whether political violence is ever justified.

Among the key findings:

  • Overall, 64% of Americans agree that American democracy is in crisis and at risk of failing, and 70% feel that way about the country itself.
  • Around 1 in 3 Americans (32%) believe the Jan. 6 attack was an attempted coup or insurrection, while 28% say it was a riot that got out of control. Some 17% believe the events were carried out by opponents of Trump, including antifa and government agents. Perceptions vary by political affiliation, education level and political news consumption.
  • More than 1 in 5 Americans say it is sometimes OK to engage in violence to protect American democracy, culture or values, with Trump voters generally more inclined than Biden voters to agree with engaging in violence.
  • Around two-thirds of Americans accept the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. A third believe there was fraudulent voting, and another fifth say they are unsure. While 65% of Americans agree with the statement, “I accept the outcome of the 2020 presidential election," this number falls to fewer than half among Republicans, Trump voters and those who get their news from Fox News or conservative news media.
  • Most Americans are not very familiar with the efforts of Republican-led states to pass new voting laws, but after hearing a short description, most respondents said they thought the new laws would make elections less fair — 49% say standardizing voting rules across states will make elections more fair. And 44% said allowing any eligible voter to vote by mail will make the system more fair, though support falls starkly along partisan lines: 62% of Democrats and just 31% of Republicans agree.

Click here to read or listen to NPR's reporting on the survey and its context.

Politics

Obama warns that American democracy is ‘at greater risk today’ than it was a year ago

Posted January 6, 2022 at 11:55 AM EST
Former President Barack Obama speaks during an early vote rally for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in October, in Newark, New Jersey.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
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Getty Images North America
Former President Barack Obama said in a statement Thursday: “While the broken windows have been repaired and many of the rioters have been brought to justice, the truth is that our democracy is at greater risk today than it was back then.”

Former President Barack Obama is warning that America is under threat from a Republican Party effort to actively undermine democracy.

In a tweet on Thursday morning marking one year since the violent attack on Capitol Hill, Obama said that “while the broken windows have been repaired and many of the rioters have been brought to justice, the truth is that our democracy is at greater risk today than it was back then.”

He noted that after the attack, many Republicans had rejected the false claims of election fraud by then-President Donald Trump. Since then, however, they’ve “been embraced by a sizeable portion of voters and elected officials — many of whom know better.”

The Capitol Hill attack was triggered by congressional certification of the November 2020 election won by Joe Biden.

Obama said that state legislatures across the country are now making it more difficult to vote and that some “have tried to assert power over core election processes including the ability to certify election results.”

The former president also issued a statement on Jan. 6, 2021, calling the events of that day a “great dishonor and shame for our nation.”

On Thursday, Obama praised Republicans who “courageously stood their ground and rejected such anti-democratic efforts” only to be “ostracized, primaried and driven from the party.”

He said that Americans have always been “defenders of democracy and freedom around the world,” but that “we can't set an example when our own leaders are willing to fabricate lies and cast doubt on the results of free and fair elections.”

Photos

Biden made his Jan. 6 remarks in Statuary Hall. Here's what it looked like then and now

Posted January 6, 2022 at 11:12 AM EST

The images from the U.S. Capitol a year ago today are indelible (speaking of which, here's NPR's visual look back at the riot).

President Biden evoked the scene during his remarks from Statuary Hall — where supporters of President Donald Trump passed through velvet ropes and snappedphotos as they made their way deeper into the Capitol a year ago today.

"Close your eyes. Go back to that day," he said at one point. "What do you see? Rioters rampaging, waving — for the first time inside this Capitol — the Confederate flag that symbolized the cause to destroy America, to rip us apart ... What else do you see? A mob breaking windows, kicking in doors, breaching the Capitol. American flags on poles being used as weapons, as spears. Fire extinguishers being thrown at the heads of police officers."

Biden noted the historical significance of Statuary Hall itself: The House of Representatives met there for 50 years in the decades leading up to the Civil War. It's where a young Illinois representative named Abraham Lincoln sat at Desk 191. And above the door is a sculpture depicting Clio, the ancient Greek muse of history, who has watched and recorded more than 200 years of history in her open book.

Today, the hall was the site of somber, forceful remarks by Biden and Vice President Harris. But it's easy to imagine — and remember — what it looked like last Jan. 6.

Here's the stark contrast:

President Biden stands at a wooden podium in Statuary Hall, with red and gold curtains above him.
Drew Angerer
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Getty Images North America
President Biden delivers remarks on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in Statuary Hall.
People wearing red jackets and Trump hats walk between the velvet ropes of Statuary Hall.
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AFP via Getty Images
A year ago today, supporters of President Donald Trump walk through the historic Statuary Hall after breaching the Capitol.
A side view shows President Biden speaking at a podium in Statuary Hall, reading off a teleprompter surrounded by journalists and photographers.
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AP
President Biden on Thursday denounces his predecessor's "web of lies" that led to the insurrection and continued divisions.
Police officers walk through the doorway of Statuary Hall.
J. Scott Applewhite
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Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies found themselves in Statuary Hall that day one year ago to quell the mob.

Elections

'We're done.' Arizona's Maricopa County officials issue final rebuttal of election fraud claims

Posted January 6, 2022 at 10:50 AM EST
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Bill Gates testifies during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing to examine a Republican-led Arizona audit of the 2020 presidential election results, on Capitol Hill in Washington, in October.
Joshua Roberts/AP
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Then-Vice Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Bill Gates testifies during a House hearing to examine a Republican-led Arizona audit of the 2020 presidential election results, in Washington in October.

Officials in Arizona’s Maricopa County are using the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection to once again push back on claims of election fraud there that many Republicans believe helped Joe Biden win the 2020 presidential race.

"We're done. This is the end of the 2020 election. We have addressed the issues; we have debunked them,” said Bill Gates, the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Officials in the county, the most populous in the state with Phoenix as its seat, issued a comprehensive rebuttal to election fraud claims in a report titled Correcting the Record.

"We actually went and researched every single voter,” County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican elected in 2020, said Wednesday ahead of the anniversary of the Capitol insurrection. “If, in the very rare instance, there was anything that was potentially unlawful, it was referred to the attorney general.”

Shortly after the election, the county conducted a three-week investigation and found no significant evidence of fraud. Arizona’s Republican-controlled state Senate then hired a contractor, Cyber Ninjas, to carry out a follow-up probe. That investigation was widely seen as partisan and unreliable.

Richter’s office said the Cyber Ninjas’ final report “inaccurately challenges the legitimacy of thousands of voters who participated in the November 2020 General Election and/or the validity of ballots counted and included in the official results.”

“The Elections Department reviewed every finding” made in the Cyber Ninjas’ report, the country officials said.

They said they found misleading and inaccurate claims in the report. “This includes faulty conclusions about voters who moved, early voting files, certified results, voter registration information, the County’s ballot duplication processes, and ballots for military and overseas voters.”

“At the heart of these inaccuracies is a basic misunderstanding or ignorance of election laws and procedures,” the county officials said.

Politics

Republicans criticize Ted Cruz for calling Jan. 6 a violent terrorist attack

Posted January 6, 2022 at 10:28 AM EST
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 15: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) participates in a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on oversight of the airline industry, in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on December 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. The air transportation executives testified about the current state of the U.S. airline industry during the oversight hearing. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla
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Getty Images North America
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz said on Wednesday: “Anyone who commits an act of violence should be prosecuted, and anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer should go to jail for a very long time,”

On the eve of the Jan. 6 anniversary, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz called the riot “a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol,” drawing the ire of several Republican pundits, including Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson.

“Of all the things that Jan. 6 was, it was definitely not a violent terrorist attack,” Carlson said Wednesday night. “It wasn’t an insurrection. Was it a riot? Sure. It was not a violent terrorist attack — sorry!”

Carlson called the arrest of the perpetrators a “purge.”

Cruz’s remarks came at a Senate Rules Committee hearing with U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger to review how similar threats could be handled differently in the future.

The Texas senator called Jan. 6 “an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol, where we saw the men and women of law enforcement demonstrate incredible courage.”

“Anyone who commits an act of violence should be prosecuted, and anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer should go to jail for a very long time,” Cruz added.

In response to Cruz, Sebastian Gorka, who was a deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, stated on Twitter, “I’m so done with Ted Cruz.”

Gorka is currently fighting a subpoena for his phone records that was filed by the House select committee that’s investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

Among Democrats, some welcomed Cruz’s remarks, even as they called it hypocritical for him to seek the moral high ground after voting against certifying the 2020 election results that cemented Joe Biden’s defeat of Trump.

Immediately after Cruz spoke, Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat from California, said that he appreciated Cruz’s recognition of the attack, which he called a deadly assault on the U.S. political process.

“We should also agree on a bipartisan basis to ask some questions: Was it organic and spontaneous, or was it organized and premeditated?” Padilla asked, noting that Republicans in the Senate had quashed attempts to establish a bipartisan panel to investigate those questions.

Karl Rove, another prominent Republican who is respected for his intellect and political acumen, wrote an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal in which he attacked members of his own party who have sought to excuse the actions of people who violently attacked the Capitol, as well as those who “aided the attempt to overthrow our democracy.”

“The GOP has a duty to condemn the riot and those who refuse to acknowledge it,” Rove wrote.

On Thursday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell released a statement calling Jan. 6, 2021, “a dark day for Congress and our country,” adding, “This disgraceful scene was antithetical to the rule of law.”

Echoing other congressional Republicans on the anniversary, McConnell also accused Democrats of politicizing the event for strategic gain.

Politics

Biden lashes out at Trump in a speech marking insurrection anniversary

Posted January 6, 2022 at 9:58 AM EST
President Biden speaks from Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol to mark the one year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot.
Andrew Harnik
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AP
President Biden speaks from Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol to mark the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot.

President Biden on Thursday called out his predecessor in a rare and forceful denunciation of the election lie that he said threatens American democracy.

In a speech marking one year since the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, Biden did not call Donald Trump by name, but said the former president had “created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election.”

The day a year ago marked the first time in history that a former president tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, he said.

“He's done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interest as more important than his country's interest and America's interest,” Biden said. “And because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution.”

He said that the fight ahead to preserve democracy was a fight for “the soul of America.”

“Phony partisan audits were undertaken long after the election in several states. None change the results,” the president said, speaking from Statuary Hall at the Capitol. “And in some of them, the irony is the margin of victory actually grew slightly.”

“So let's speak plainly about what happened in 2020, even before the first ballot was cast,” Biden said.

“The former president was preemptively sowing doubt about the election results," he said. “He built his lie over months. It wasn't based on the facts. He was just looking for an excuse, a pretext to cover for the truth. He’s not just the former president. He's a defeated former president.”

Biden said the lies have not abated and called for protections for voting rights — a case he plans to make in greater detail in a speech slated for Jan. 11 in Atlanta.

He said too many Republicans are transporting the party of “Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan, the Bushes” into “something else” and said the country was at an inflection point, urging people to fight for democracy.

Remarks

Vice President Harris calls on the Senate to protect voting rights

Posted January 6, 2022 at 9:48 AM EST

Vice President Harris marked the anniversary of Jan. 6 by noting both the strength and fragility of American democracy and by calling on lawmakers to pass voting rights legislation to protect it.

Watch the remarks here:

Harris compared the attack on the Capitol to other infamous events like Pearl Harbor and 9/11 and described the lawlessness, violence and chaos as "what our nation would look like if the forces who seek to dismantle our democracy are successful."

She urged lawmakers and constituents alike to stand up for democracy.

“Let’s be clear: We must pass the voting rights bills now before the Senate," she says. "But we, the American people, must also do something more. We cannot sit on the sidelines. We must unite in defense of our democracy.”

The Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act are intended to ensure access to voting in all states and to limit discrimination.

Harris will travel with President Biden next week to Atlanta to press for the legislation. As president of the Senate, she could cast a tiebreaking vote in the evenly divided chamber, but the bill may never reach that point as fellow Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is resisting changing the filibuster so that the two bills could pass along party lines.

She said that when young people ask her about the events of that day, she tells them that Jan. 6 reflects "the dual nature of democracy." On the one hand, she said, it means rule of law, equal treatment for everyone, free and fair elections and empowering the people. On the other hand, it is at risk of faltering without protection.

“The violent assault that took place here — the very fact of how close we came to an election overturned — that reflects the fragility of democracy," she said. "Yet, the resolve I saw in our elected leaders when I returned to the Senate chamber that night, their resolve not to yield, but to certify the election, their loyalty, not to party or person but to the Constitution of the United States, that reflects its strength.“

The heroism of the law enforcement officers who responded to the attack also reflects the strength of democracy, Harris said, noting those who succumbed to wounds "both visible and invisible."

Harris also reflected on her own experience that day, noting she had left a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing at the Capitol hours before it was breached, but that her staff sought refuge in her office using filing cabinets as makeshift barricades.

Her predecessor, Vice President Mike Pence, was also there and was an intended target of the violence.

Social media

We'll be taking your questions on Twitter

Posted January 6, 2022 at 9:46 AM EST

Join us at 11 a.m. ET for a Twitter Spaces conversation with NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas, senior political editor/correspondent Domenico Montanaro and congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. They'll be joined by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Wehle for a discussion on the insurrection, looking back at the last year, what will happen Thursday in Congress and updates regarding the Jan. 6 House Committee.

This conversation will be recorded and shared on the NPR Twitter account.

➡️ Click the link here to set a reminder for 11 a.m.

Looking Ahead

A retired general warns the U.S. military could back a coup after the 2024 election

Posted January 6, 2022 at 9:25 AM EST
General Paul Eaton faces the camera in a U.S. Army uniform.
Brent Stirton
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Getty Images North America
Along with two other retired generals, Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton in a Washington Post op-ed wrote, "We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time."

The military must prepare now for an insurrection in 2024, according to three retired U.S. generals.

Paul Eaton, Antonio Taguba and Steven Anderson warn that another violent insurrection could occur after the 2024 presidential election and that the military could support it.

"In short: We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time," they wrote in a recent Washington Postopinion piece.

Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton told NPR recently that the idea of a military-backed coup was “low probability, high impact.”

“It's an eventuality that we need to prepare for,” Eaton said.

“The real question is: Does everybody understand who the duly elected president is? If that is not a clear-cut understanding, that can infect the rank and file or at any level in the U.S. military.”

Eaton said the military needs to “war-game” that possibility and make sure active members understand the U.S. Constitution.

“Civics and the development of the philosophical underpinnings of the U.S. Constitution, I believe that bears a reteach,” he said.

Read the full story here or Listen.

Looking ahead

Why one expert fears the worst of Jan. 6 is not behind us

Posted January 6, 2022 at 9:03 AM EST
People vote in stand-up voting booths that say "vote" on them, with an American flag diligence.
Mario Tama
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Getty Images North America
A democracy expert says federal legislation is needed to protect against election sabotage.

The Capitol riots have become a focal point for political violence, but the attacks on the foundations of our electoral system and democracy have continued since then, says Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.

“We are seeing now, also, legislation that would enable partisans literally to sabotage election results. In some states, new bills that give partisans power over election administration, allow them to interfere in it, criminalizing aspects of it, meddling in ways that are really jarring and new,” Weiser says.

She worries that Jan.6, 2021, is not behind us.

“Across the country, we're seeing efforts to rile up Americans against our electoral system,” she says.

“I am worried that if we don't pass federal legislation, if we don't put in place strong protections against election sabotage, that we are going to see a repeat of Jan. 6 and that this movement's not going to go away."

Listen to the full interview with Weiser onAll Things Consideredhere or read the transcript here.

GOP reaction

Cheney and Kinzinger, who broke ranks to oppose Trump, say America must reckon with Jan. 6

Posted January 6, 2022 at 8:40 AM EST

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the most prominent Republican to vote to impeach Donald Trump for helping to incite the Jan. 6 insurrection, is not backing down from criticizing her party — saying it must make a choice between loyalty to the former president and loyalty to the Constitution.

“I think the country needs a strong Republican Party going forward, but our party has to choose,” Cheney said in a Sunday interview with CBS’ Face the Nation. “We can either be loyal to Donald Trump or we can be loyal to the Constitution, but we cannot be both.

“Right now, there are far too many Republicans who are trying to enable the former president, embrace the former president,” she said.

Cheney is one of 10 House Republicans who joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump on Jan. 13, 2021. She has drawn withering criticism from her party for her outspokenness and for agreeing to sit on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, another vocal GOP representative who voted for impeachment, issued a video statement Wednesday, calling last year’s insurrection “one of the worst days in American history.” Kinzinger, who like Cheney has been largely ostracized from the Republican Party for his stand, announced in October that he would not seek reelection.

“Some say it’s time to move on from Jan. 6th," Kinzinger said. "But we can’t move on without addressing what happened or by pretending it never happened."

“The 2020 election was not stolen. Joe Biden won. Trump lost. We have to admit it,” he said.

Media

Trump holds off on a news conference. GOP Reps. Gaetz and Taylor Greene plan their own

Posted January 6, 2022 at 8:18 AM EST
Former President Donald Trump stands at a microphone during a rally in Perry, Ga., on Sept. 25.
Sean Rayford
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Getty Images North America
Former President Donald Trump stands at a microphone during a rally in Perry, Ga., on Sept. 25. Trump is opting not to hold a public event on Thursday for the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Former President Donald Trump canceled a planned news conference on the anniversary of the bloody assault on the nation’s Capitol, opting for public silence on the day that resulted in death and mayhem over his election loss. A day later, Trump allies Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene announced they plan to hold their own "Republican response" Thursday afternoon.

“In light of the total bias and dishonesty of the January 6th Unselect Committee of Democrats, two failed Republicans, and the Fake News Media, I am canceling the January 6th Press Conference at Mar-a-Lago,” Trump said in a statement on Tuesday. Trump said he would instead save his remarks for a rally in Arizona later this month.

Gaetz and Taylor Greene are expected to speak a few hours after Biden delivers his remarks, expected at 9 a.m. ET, in which the president is expected to place blame on Trump’s shoulders for his role in peddling misinformation about his election loss and inciting the Jan. 6 crowd.

Unlike in years past, Trump will not have personal access to his favorite mode of communication — Twitter. The platform last year permanently banned the former president from its services based on how Trump’s messaging around the insurrection was being “received and interpreted on and off Twitter.” Taylor Greene, too, has been banned from Twitter over misinformation related to the coronavirus. She had been suspended temporarily a year ago, too, for endorsing QAnon conspiracy theories.

Investigation

The House Jan. 6 panel has interviewed hundreds of witnesses so far, despite opposition

Posted January 6, 2022 at 8:10 AM EST
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairs the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
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U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., (center) chairs the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The bipartisan House committee looking into the Jan. 6 insurrection has been plugging away since its formation in the aftermath of the violent pro-Trump mob attack on the U.S. Capitol a year ago.

Hundreds of witnesses have been interviewed, and the panel is expected to soon hold public hearings on the events of that day, when the mob overran police and attempted to block the certification of Joe Biden’s win in the November 2020 election.

But there has been opposition — if not outright stonewalling — by many former Trump administration officials who have refused to cooperate with the panel’s request for testimony. The committee has sought contempt of Congress charges against two — former Trump strategist Steve Bannon and former chief of staff (and former congressman) Mark Meadows, who although has refused to testify has turned over a trove of documents to the panel. Bannon was subsequently formally charged by the Justice Department with contempt.

But there are many others whom the committee is still hoping to hear from.

➡️ See the full tracker of the committee's actions and subpoenas here.

➡️ Here are all of the people who have been arrested in connection with the riot. As well as five takeaways from the criminal cases.

Looking ahead

1 Capitol Police officer fears a violent repeat

Posted January 6, 2022 at 7:52 AM EST
A man in a police uniform looks to the side with his lips pursed and a tear running down one cheek.
Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images
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Getty Images North America
U.S. Capitol Police officer Aquilino Gonell cries as he watches a video during a July hearing of the House panel investigating the Jan, 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

A year after the Jan. 6 attack, Aquilino Gonell still can't raise his left arm because of injuries he sustained guarding the west entrance to the U.S. Capitol.

"This whole year has been horrific,” Gonell, a Capitol Police officer, told NPR recently.

Protesters dragged him by the leg. He could barely breathe.

“This is how I'm going to die, trampled defending this entrance,” he thought to himself, as a joint session of Congress met inside the building to affirm the results of the 2020 presidential election.

In addition to the physical trauma, the psychological wounds have also not healed for Gonell or his family.

"They see me cry. They cry with me. They see me in pain. And they also cry because they can't do anything for me other than try to make me feel a little bit better," Gonell said.

In the days before the one-year anniversary of the attack, Gonell said he was anxious at the specter of an insurrection happening again.

"A lot of the officers have in mind the possibility of this being a recurring annual or every four-year thing, which is why officers like myself are being outspoken about it, because we don't want to go through this again," Gonell said.

Read the full story here.

Events

What to expect during Thursday's events

Posted January 6, 2022 at 7:46 AM EST
A view of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Congress is preparing to mark the one year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot on Thursday.
Drew Angerer
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Congress is preparing to mark the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot with several events on Thursday.

It will be a day of solemn commemorations on Capitol Hill as lawmakers mark the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 attacks by mob of Trump supporters on the Capitol, trying to prevent the certifying of Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election.

President Biden and Vice President Harris will begin the day with remarks at 9 a.m. ET.

Other events will include:

  • A moment of reflection with staff on the House floor at 10 a.m.
  • A moment of silence on the House floor with a statement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at noon.
  • A conversation with historians Doris Kerns Goodwin and Jon Meacham, moderated by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden at 1 p.m. The event is to “establish and preserve the narrative of January 6th,” according to Pelosi’s office.

Lawmakers will also give testimonials to the events of a year ago, and there will be a prayer vigil on the Capitol steps led by Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Check Schumer, D-N.Y., at 5:30 p.m.
Former President Donald Trump canceled a planned news conference for Thursday, but GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene said Wednesday that they would hold their own, framing it as a "Republican response."