Two years have passed since a mob of supporters of President Donald J. Trump attacked the Capitol. On that day seven lives were lost. Among them were Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick and rioters Benjamin Philip, Rosanne Boyland, Kevin Greeson and Ashli Babbitt.
Since then, roughly 640 defendants have been charged with entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or grounds, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Over 225 defendants have been charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers. Within those 225, 75 defendants were charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.
“What matters is the fact that this was done by Americans and we all have a vested interest in how the course of this country is,” said Will Fleck, president of the University of Miami College Republicans and a junior studying law.
The United States House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Attack was formed to formally investigate the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Over the course of nine hearings, the committee presented evidence and witness testimony to investigate the truth behind the origins of Jan 6th.
The first hearing took place on June 9, 2021. The hearing included testimony from a Capitol police officer and a documentary filmmaker. The filmmaker presented disturbing footage of the Proud Boys, a far-right, exclusively male extremist group, forcing their way past security and into the building. The Capitol police officer who testified suffered a brain injury from his efforts to restrain the mob.
“If Republicans really are the ones that support police and law enforcement, how come they didn’t support them that day?” Fleck said.
Only four days later, former advisors to Trump, including his campaign chairman, Bill Stepien, and attorney general, William Barr, testified that Trump ignored their suggestions to stop repeating claims of election fraud. The evidence presented at this hearing indicated that Trump sided with those who pushed him to contest the election results.
At the third hearing on June 16, evidence presented proved that John Eastman, a lawyer advising Trump, sought a presidential pardon after developing an illegal plan to overturn the 2020 election results. Greg Jacob, attorney to former vice-president Mike Pence, testified that Eastmen acknowledged that the plot would ultimately fail in the courts.
On this day, Pence found common ground with a wider audience, including many in the Democratic Party, for his rejection of Trump’s view and plans.
On June 21st, several state officials testified that Trump and his allies pressured them to overturn losses in certain swing states. They also received threats for pushing against the plan.
During a surprise sixth hearing on June 28, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump’s chief of staff, testified that Trump planned to join the rioters at the Capitol building prior to it happening.
“He said something to the effect of: ‘He knows it’s over. He knows he lost. But we are going to keep trying,” Hutchinson recalled Mark Meadows saying, referring to Trump.
At the seventh hearing on July 12, the committee proved that after legal strategies to overturn the election failed, Trump and his advisors led his supporters to believe the election had been stolen.
On July 21, at the ninth and final hearing, the committee presented outtakes of a speech where Trump came close to accepting the election results and criticized the actions of those who breached the Capitol on Jan.6.
“No one should be using violence or threats of violence to express themselves,” the first draft had said. “Especially at the U.S. Capitol. Let’s respect our institutions. Let’s all do better.”
The speech was never released and Trump eventually presented a different version.
In late 2022, the committee issued a number of subpoenas for documents and testimony related to their ongoing investigation. In response to the subpoena, Trump sued the panel. The committee was set to close on Jan. 3, 2023. Due to a lack of time to obtain the documents and testimony, Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat representing Mississippi’s 2nd District, the subpoenas were withdrawn. Another subpoena was issued to Doug Mastriano, a member of the Pennsylvania Senate since 2019, who had been named a central figure in Trump’s plan to reverse the election results in Pennsylvania. Mastriano’s subpoena was withdrawn as well.
On Dec. 22, 2022 the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol released their final report. The 845 page document declared the central cause was “one man” — former President Donald Trump.
“None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him,” the committee wrote.
The final report was released three days after the committee voted to formally accuse Trump of inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the US and obstruction of an act of Congress. The report outlines the plan Trump orchestrated to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Along with evidence, the report lists supposed enablers of Trump, such as Mark Meadows, John Eastmen and Jeffrey Clark.
Although the document does not compel federal prosecutors to take action, legislative suggestions are included with hopes to prevent similar events from occurring. Among these is a recommendation for Congress to consider whether or not to bar Trump from future office under the 14th amendment’s ban on insurrections.
The Department of Justice is under no obligation to agree with the conclusions of the committee or follow recommendations. The impact of the Jan. 6 investigations will be determined by the future actions of the Justice Department.
“For the public, most people are not very attentive to politics and current events, and those who are — already have their minds made up.” political science professor Casey Klofstad said. “Either you don’t care, you hate Trump, or you love Trump, and no amount of evidence is likely to change any of this.”
In the case of extraordinary circumstances, the Department of Justice allows the attorney general of the U.S. to appoint special counsel. In order to ensure an unbiased investigation, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed American attorney Jack Smith as special counsel to oversee the investigation into Trump’s role in the events leading up to Jan. 6 and his decision to retain sensitive government documents in his Florida home.