What You Need to Know About the Attack on the Capitol
February 5, 2021
After the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 2021, Eastsiders were left with many questions. Here are some answers.
“What did they hope to accomplish by storming the capital?” – Abel Medina Jimenez, freshman
On the day of the riot, Congress was meeting to certify the election results and confirm President Joe Biden’s win. The Trump supporters believed that by storming the Capitol, they could “stop the steal” of the election. Their efforts ultimately failed, as after the riot, some Republicans voted to certify the election rather than oppose as they had initially planned. In addition, some number of the rioters were calling for the death of certain political leaders who they saw as standing in the way, including former Vice President Mike Pence.
“What does a second impeachment attempt mean for our current presidency (as in will this create more hate against him, will he surpass it once again) and for the future of democracy?” Jonathan Solis, senior
Trump is the first President in United States history to ever be impeached twice. Many Americans question whether submitting the articles of impeachment was worth it because of the limited time Trump had left in his presidency, but Congress was determined to impeach him for inciting terrorism at the Capitol on Jan 6 — to punish him and to defend their co-equal branch of government against the possibility of future attack.. To let him leave the White House free of charges would set a terrible precedent and make it seem as though Trump had done nothing wrong.
“Why has Trump not been impeached yet? What are the arguments for why he shouldn’t be impeached?” – Alondra Zamora, junior
Back in Jan. 2020, the first impeachment trial for then-president Trump asserted the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. Trump has just been recorded on a phone call with the leader of Ukraine, looking for him to provide information that would discredit his political rival, Joe Biden. The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump but the Senate acquitted him, allowing him to stay in the White House. In the 2020 trial, only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney (R-Utah) voted to impeach Trump, the rest voted to acquit him as they claimed that Trump did nothing wrong.
This impeachment trial is somewhat different. So far, the House of Representatives has voted to impeach him, with support from 10 Republican representatives. While the articles of impeachment have not been decided in the Senate yet, a large number of Republican senators are opposed to impeaching Trump. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) said, “I think a lot of Americans are going to think it’s strange that the Senate is spending its time trying to convict and remove from office a man who left office a week ago.” While the House has brought the impeachment to the Senate to start a trial, and a date has been set for next month, the Senate looks more likely to acquit Trump again.
“Who were the ones who attacked? Were the police on their side?” – Kevin Hernandez, freshman
The attack on the Capitol was carried out by people who claimed that the election was stolen from former President Trump. Trump encouraged the rioters during a “Save America March” he hosted that morning, nearby in Washington D.C. He told his supporters that they should “ fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” In not accepting the results of the election, he called President Joe Biden an “illegitimate president” and said that he and his supporters “can’t let that happen.”
Some videos of the events seem to show police at the Capitol building opening the security barriers and allowing rioters to enter the Capitol area. In contrast, there were also police such as Officer Eugene Goodman who was filmed purposely leading the rioters away from the room where the Senate was holding their meeting. Therefore, it is unclear how many police may have sided with the rioters. In addition, people are calling for investigations of why requests made ahead of time for additional support from the National Guard were ignored. Clearly, not all officers failed to defend the Capitol, but it isn’t clear yet how much support the rioters had from within the security forces.
“Is it possible to impeach the president before inauguration day? Is it the fastest method or is there anything faster? If Trump is impeached, can he run again?” – Joshua Nickings, junior
The 25th Amendment allows the Vice President and the President’s Cabinet to remove the President from office if he is found “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”. If the president is removed, the vice-president takes on the role of President. The House immediately asked Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment after Trump encouraged the attack on the Capitol Building. However, Pence refused to invoke the 25th saying, “I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution.”
If the Cabinet had invoked the 25th Amendment, it would have been the fastest way to remove former president Trump from office.
An impeachment process is currently underway. The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump, with 10 Republicans going against their party and joining the Democrats to vote to impeach. This step is like an indictment in a court setting. Having been impeached by the House, the next step would be to hold the impeachment trial, which takes place in the Senate. The Senate reopened on Jan. 19 but will not start to talk about impeachment for about another two weeks. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has argued that they should wait in order to give former President Trump to gather a legal defense.
If the Senate votes to convict Trump and impeach him, even though he is already out of the White House, the Senate can then also consider disqualifying him from running for office ever again, which Trump has previously said he might choose to do in 2024. We should be able to see how the Senate votes on impeachment in the next couple of weeks.
“What will happen to the cops and the people who broke into the Capitol and how will people react to their punishment?” – Abigail Banales Sedano, sophomore
Some notable arrests include:
- Jake Angeli, the man who wore red, white and blue face paint along with a headdress with horns on charges of knowingly entering a restricted building, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
- Klete Keller, an Olympic gold medalist who was charged for obstructing law enforcement, knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
- Anthime Joseph Gionet, a former Buzzfeed employee and a far-right media personality known as Baked Alaska, who was charged for the same reasons as Angeli and Keller.
- Riley June Williams, a woman who took a laptop from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the riot. She reportedly planned to sell the laptop to a Russian friend who would then send it to Russian intelligence agencies but the sale did not go through. Williams turned herself in and was arrested for unlawful entry and disrupting the conduct of government business and disorderly conduct.
“Will the Capitol learn from this and step up its security?” – Joshua Banos, sophomore
After the riot, America realized how ill-prepared the Capitol police was to defend the Capitol from an angry mob. For extra protection, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy announced on Jan. 7 that a “7-foot non-scalable fence” would be installed surrounding the Capitol Building, for at least a month. Some 26,000 soldiers of the National Guard were deployed to Washington D.C. in the lead-up to the inauguration on Jan. 20, to protect the Capitol from any more mob violence. The inauguration took place without any major violent incidents.
With reporting by Joel Carpio, Juan Carlos Macias, Jennifer Garcia, Gaby Sainz-Medina and Stephanie Xiloj
January Political Updates:
Jan 22: Joe Biden was inaugurated as President of the United States on Jan. 20. He signed 30 executive orders in his first three days to reverse Trump-era policies involving coronavirus, climate change, and immigration.
The House of Representatives will send the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate on Jan. 25, but the case will not officially start for at least another week.
U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 14th congressional district Marjorie Taylor Greene posted a video on Twitter claiming to have filed Articles of Impeachment against President Biden for attempting to enrich himself and his son Hunter Biden in the Ukraine.
Jan 25: President Biden lifts the ban on transgender people serving in the military, implemented by Trump in April of 2019.
Jan 26: The Senate impeachment trial is set to take place on Feb. 8.