13 min read

TIMELINE: How January 6th happened

From September 2020 to the day itself, how the Capitol riot came to be.
TIMELINE: How January 6th happened

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Friday, June 10, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 151 days away. Election Day 2024 is 879 days away.

The first January 6th committee hearing was last night. In case you didn’t catch the hearing, or even if you did but want all the information presented in one place, I wanted to start today’s newsletter by summarizing the narrative the committee laid out and the new findings they revealed.

The committee made clear that their January 6th probe wasn’t just about the day itself — instead, in their view, the attack was merely the “culmination” of Trump’s months-long effort to overturn the 2020 election.

To that end, I’ll use a timeline format to allow you to easily digest the chronology they described. The bullet points below each date will be used to highlight new details that were newly presented at last night’s hearing. It’s worth reading in full to get a sense of what led to January 6th and what went on that day.

The committee’s presentation was multimedia, so this will be as well, with videos interspersed throughout. Obviously not every detail in the January 6th lead-up and attack is here, but the most essential elements described by the committee — and all of the new revelations — are below.

Timeline: How January 6th happened

After almost a year’s worth of investigation, the House select committee examining the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol began presenting its findings last night in a primetime hearing.

Using never-before-seen footage from the riot, pre-taped depositions from key figures, documents obtained in their investigation, and live testimony from two eyewitnesses, the committee sought to lay bare the carnage of January 6, 2021 — and pin blame for the attack squarely on then-President Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump was at the center of this conspiracy,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), declared. “Donald Trump — the president of the United States — spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the Constitution to march down to the Capitol and subvert American democracy.”

“President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” said the committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).

The nine members of the House January 6th committee. (Screengrab)

Here’s how it happened, according to the January 6th committee:

September 29, 2020: Asked to condemn the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist organization, at the first 2020 presidential debate, Trump tells the group to “stand back and stand by.”

  • A Proud Boys leader told the committee in a deposition shown last night that membership in the group “tripled” after Trump’s debate-night comment.

November 3, 2020: Election Day. In the wee hours of the next morning, Trump falsely declares that “frankly, we did win this election,” even though millions of votes had still yet to be counted.

  • “That was only the beginning of what became a sprawling, multi-step conspiracy aimed at overturning the presidential election,” Thompson said last night.

Late November and early December 2020: Trump continues to contest the election results and make baseless claims of fraud, eventually launching 62 lawsuits — 61 of which would fail.

  • The committee sought to make the case that Trump and his allies were aware that these claims were lies. The panel showed a deposition of former Attorney General Bill Barr, who said he told Trump that the allegations of election fraud were “bullshit.”
  • “I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he was saying,” Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter and senior adviser, was shown saying in another deposition.
Excerpts of former Attorney General Bill Barr’s deposition. (Video)

Late December 2020 and early January 2021: As his court losses pile up, Trump and his advisers attempted to install new Justice Department leadership, encouraged state and local officials to recalculate the results in his favor, created fake electoral slates, and pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject President Biden’s victory when he would preside over the Electoral College certification on January 6, which Pence did not have the power to do.

  • Trump knew the unconstitutionality of what he was encouraging Pence to do, Cheney alleged: “The former vice president informed former President Trump over and over again that what he was pressuring Mike Pence to do was illegal.”
  • Cheney also showed a letter that Trump wanted Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark — whom he was hoping to install as acting attorney general — to send to state officials, which claimed that the department had “identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election.” No such concerns had been identified.

December 19, 2021: On Twitter, Trump announces plans for a “big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” the day of the Electoral College certification. “Be there, will be wild!” he added.

  • A committee investigator who presented some of the panel’s evidence said the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, two far-right groups, “viewed this tweet as a call to arms.” One member of the Oath Keepers was shown posting, “The president called us to the Capitol. He wants us to make it wild.”
  • The panel showed depositions from severals members of the group who confirmed that they traveled to D.C. on January 6th because of Trump’s statements. “He personally asked for us to come to D.C. that day,” one said. “And I thought, for everything he’s done for us, if this is the only thing he’s gonna ask of me: I’ll do it.”
A committee investigator laying out January 6 planning conducted by the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. (Video)

January 5, 2021: Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, and Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, meet in a D.C. parking garage. It is unknown what they discussed, although a Justice Department indictment of Tarrio has said the Capitol was referenced.

  • “There’s mutual respect there. We’re fighting the same fight,” Tarrio told Nick Quested, a documentarian who was embedded with the Proud Boys at the time, referring to his group and the Oath Keepers. Quested testified last night and portions of his footage was shown for the first time.
  • The committee also said they learned that the Oath Keepers set up “quick reaction forces” just outside of D.C., in Virginia, to store arms in case Trump invoked martial law.

Morning of January 6, 2021: While Congress prepared to meet to certify Biden’s victory, Trump held a rally outside the White House. “We fight. We fight like hell,” he said, adding: “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol.”

  • Quested testified that “a couple of hundred” Proud Boys left the event early, before Trump even spoke, and marched to the Capitol, where they saw a minimal police presence at that time. Thompson alleged that this “allowed them to see what defenses were in place and where weaknesses might be.”
Excerpts of Nick Quested’s testimony on the Proud Boys’ actions on January 6. (Video)

Afternoon of January 6, 2021: As Republican lawmakers attempted to object to the certification inside the Capitol, the protests outside the building begin to turn violent, as rioters attack police officers and bust through barricades, eventually breaking windows and entering the Capitol.

  • The committee showed harrowing, never-before-seen footage of the rioting and the carnage that ensued. The panel emphasized the role of the Proud Boys in instigating the protests’ violent turn, showing video of the group’s members making the first breach of the Capitol — at the exact location they had scoped out earlier in the day.
  • According to Cheney, Trump was aware of the violence as it was happening but “he placed no call to any element of the United States government to instruct that the Capitol be defended.” The panel showed a deposition from Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who revealed that Pence — not Trump — ordered the National Guard be deployed.
  • As Trump posted another tweet attacking Pence, the committee showed videos of a rioter reading the missive aloud outside the Capitol in real-time. Cheney revealed that, when he learned the rioters were chanting “hang Mike Pence,” the committee was told Trump responded: “Maybe our supporters have the right idea. Mike Pence deserves it.”
  • Trump did eventually issue tweets calling for peace at the Capitol (although he also referred to the rioters as “patriots”). Cheney said a White House aide told the panel that Trump “did not really want to put anything out calling off the riot.”
The footage of the January 6 riot showed by the House committee. (Video)

Night of January 6, 2021: While lawmakers complete the Electoral College certification, Trump Cabinet officials discuss invoking the 25th amendment to remove the president from power, as he continues to waver in his condemnations of the riot.

  • “No more stolen election talk,” Fox News host Sean Hannity encouraged then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany the next day, according to texts showed by the committee. “Yes, impeachment and 25th amendment are real, and many people will quit.”

Late January 2021: As the Trump administration came to a close, his advisers sought to “land the plane” — in the words of one aide who was deposed by the committee — and keep him focused on the transition. Trump issued several pardons in his final days, including to close allies.

  • Cheney alleged that Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) — who led the congressional efforts to overturn the election — and “multiple other Republican congressmen” contacted the White House in Trump’s last days there, hoping for presidential pardons “for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election.” Cheney did not name the other congressmen, nor did she reveal the source of this claim.

One more video worth watching

Quested was only one of two witnesses who testified before the panel last night. The other was Caroline Edwards, a Capitol Police officer who suffered a traumatic brain injury during the January 6th riot.

Below is a video of a crucial piece of Edwards’ testimony, in which she likens the riot to a “war scene.”

Key line: “There were officers on the ground: They were bleeding. They were throwing up. I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was sleeping in people’s blood... It was carnage. It was chaos.”

A key excerpt from Caroline Edwards’ testimony. (Video)

Another key moment: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), one of the committee’s two Republicans, narrated much of the hearing. At one point, she addressed her GOP colleagues directly: “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain,” she said.

However, many congressional Republicans lobbed attacks at the House committee throughout the proceedings, suggesting investigations should instead be held into the Biden administration.

“Tonight’s J6 committee hearing is the most blatant attempt to distract the American people from the disastrous and failed policies of the Democratic Party,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) tweeted.

“Where’s the primetime hearing on President Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal?” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked.

What’s next for the January 6th committee? The panel has several more hearings planned, including three next week: on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Monday’s hearing will make the case that Trump and his allies knew their claims of election fraud were false. Wednesday’s will focus on the attempts to install new Justice Department leaders after the election. Thursday’s will focus on Trump’s attempts to pressure Pence to overturn the election.

Breaking: U.S. inflation hits 40-year high

Here’s what you need to know, via the Associated Press:

“The costs of gas, food and most other goods and services jumped in May, raising inflation to a new four-decade high and giving American households no respite from rising costs.”

“Consumer prices surged 8.6% last month from 12 months earlier, faster than April’s year-over-year surge of 8.3%, the Labor Department said Friday. The new inflation figure, the biggest yearly increase since December 1981, will heighten pressure on the Federal Reserve to continue raising interest rates aggressively.”

“On a month-to-month basis, prices jumped 1% from April to May, much faster than the 0.3% increase from March to April. Behind that surge were much higher prices for food, energy, rent, airline tickets and and new and used cars.”

More news you should know

— Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley was arrested by the FBI on Thursday and charged with four misdemeanors related to his participation in the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

Kelley’s arrest is only the latest development to roil the chaotic Michigan primary: five of the other GOP gubernatorial candidates in the race, including the frontrunner, were disqualified from the ballot last month because their nominating petitions had too many invalid signatures.

A Michigan gubernatorial candidate was arrested by the FBI on Thursday. (Ryan Kelley / Facebook)

House Democrats left town for the weekend without voting on a Senate-approved bill to provide security for the families of Supreme Court justices, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.” The delay reportedly sparked a “screaming match” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Democrats said they were waiting to hold a vote until language can be added that would also provide security for clerks and other court employees. “Nobody is in danger over the weekend because of us not having a bill,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said — although an armed man was arrested just this week with attempting to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

A man attempted to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh earlier this week. (Fred Schilling / Supreme Court)

New documents reveal the extent of Uvalde police officers’ inaction during the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School late last month. The documents, reported by the New York Times, reveal that armed officers waited to confront the gunman for more than an hour — even though they were aware that there were children trapped with him who needed immediate medical attention.

The officers apparently waited because Uvalde’s school district police chief, Pete Arredondo, was worried officers could be killed if they entered the classroom without protective shields. The Times reported on body camera footage that reveals Arredondo agonizing over the decision. “People are going to ask why we’re taking so long,” a man believed to be Arredondo can be heard saying at one point.

Uvalde police officers waited for over an hour before intervening in a deadly school shooting. (Don Holloway)

What’s going on in government today

All times Eastern.

President Biden is in Los Angeles. He will deliver remarks on inflation and supply chain challenges at the Port of Los Angeles (1:45 pm), before returning his focus to the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of leaders from across the Western Hemisphere.

As part of he summit, he will join his fellow heads of state to adopt a declaration on migration (4:05 pm), take a family photo with the other heads of state (4:45 pm), and host a retreat and working luncheon with them (4:45 pm). Later in the night, Biden will participate in two fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee (8 pm and 10:10 pm).

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to South Carolina. She will deliver remarks at a fundraising dinner for the state Democratic Party (7:30 pm). At least in past cycles, South Carolina has been a key state on the Democratic presidential nominating calendar; Harris is a likely future contender for the White House, possibly even in the 2024 election.

Celebrity chef José Andrés will testify before the House today. (Flickr)

First Lady Biden will host a lunch at the Walt Disney Concert Hall (3 pm) for the spouses of heads of state attending the Summit of the Americas. The lunch will feature performances from the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles and the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Bird Singers, with food from 10 local female chefs.

The House and Senate are not meeting today.

The Supreme Court has nothing on tap either.

Plus: Celebrity chef José Andrés will be one of the witnesses for a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on the humanitarian response to the war in Ukraine (9 am).

Links to watch for yourself: Biden inflation speechBiden, leaders adopts migration declarationUkraine hearing

Before I go...

Here’s a story to make you smile before you start your weekend: It starts out with disappointment, when Colorado sixth grader Brody Ridder came home upset a few weeks ago after he was only able to get two classmates to sign his yearbook. Brody had added a third signature: “Hope you make some more friends,” he wrote himself.

But when Brody’s mom posted to a parent’s group on Facebook about the yearbook, multiple groups of students in older grades found out about it and all separately decided to do something.

The next day, “a swarm of older students filed into Brody’s sixth-grade classroom, ready to sign his yearbook.” Brody ended up collecting more than 100 signatures — and some of the older students even took him out for ice cream later. Their actions set a positive example for his peers: as the upperclassmen started filling up the yearbook, some of Brody’s classmates — who had originally turned their noses at signing it — got up and added their names too.

“Just seeing him light up, it felt really good,” Joanna Cooper, an 11th grader who helped organize the effort, said. “It was a small thing but it made him so happy.” Here’s more from the Washington Post.

Brody Ritter with some of the older students who signed his yearbook (Simone Lightfoot / Washington Post).
A page from Brody’s yearbook after more than 100 older students who signed it. (Cassandra Ridder / Washington Post) 

That’s it for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe