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Jan. 6 Capitol riot: Full anniversary coverage

Thursday marked a year since a mob of pro-Trump supporters ransacked the building in a deadly attempt to disrupt the electoral vote count formalizing President Joe Biden's victory.

Thursday marked one year since the Jan. 6 riot, where supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol to protest the 2020 election results.

In a speech Thursday morning noting the anniversary, President Joe Biden placed blame on Trump for the attempted insurrection and pushed back on many of the former president's false claims about the 2020 election.

Biden called Trump a "defeated former president" and vowed not to shrink from the fight against those who have sought to undermine the electoral process. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats reflected on the riot by renewing their voting rights push.

Key moments:

Kamala Harris calls for Senate to pass voting rights legislation in Jan. 6 speech

Image: Vice President Kamala Harris with President Joe Biden
Vice President Kamala Harris, with President Joe Biden, speaks at the US Capitol to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Capitol, on Jan. 6, 2022.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris called for the Senate to pass a wide-ranging voting rights package in her speech commemorating the anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

"How will January 6th come to be remembered in the years ahead?" Harris asked. "Will it be remembered as a moment of unraveling of the oldest, greatest democracy in the world? Or will it be seen as a moment we decided to strengthen our democracy for years to come?

Harris said Congress "must pass voting rights bills" before the Senate right now. In order to pass such legislation, the Senate will either need to gather 60 votes or change the filibuster rules. Republicans have expressed an openness to revamping the 1887 law that former President Donald Trump sought to exploit to overturn the election, but have no interest in the wide-ranging package proposed by Democrats.

In her speech, Harris said democracy "will falter and fail" if not defended by the American people. She recalled "the violent assault" on the Capitol and reflected on "how close we came to an election that got overturned." But she praised lawmakers for their "resolve" in proceeding with the counting of Electoral College votes immediately after the riot.

GOP Senate candidate in Ohio slams primary rivals for embracing stolen election lies

A Republican U.S. Senate hopeful in Ohio is using the anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to accuse his rivals of undermining democracy while amplifying or indulging former President Donald Trump’s debunked claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

“One year ago, our entire nation, the free world and America’s adversaries, watched the events of Jan. 6 unfold with stunning clarity,” Matt Dolan, a state senator from the Cleveland area, said in a campaign statement late Wednesday. “It was an attack on American democracy, our Constitution and the rule of law that must not be minimized, normalized or explained away.”

Dolan is the lone Republican in Ohio’s closely watched Senate race who is not aggressively seeking Trump’s endorsement. Although his statement did not single out anyone by name, each of his primary rivals to varying degrees has accommodated Trump’s election lies. Tops on the list is the GOP primary’s front-runner, Josh Mandel, whose central campaign message is the debunked claim that the last presidential election was stolen. Another candidate, Bernie Moreno, initially said he accepted the 2020 results but recently flip-flopped in a TV ad in which he explicitly said Trump was “right” to claim the election was stolen from him.

A year later, GOP accuses Democrats of 'exploiting' Capitol riot

WASHINGTON — A year ago, while Republican lawmakers tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election by blocking the certification of the results, President Donald Trump incited a mob to storm the Capitol in an effort to obtain the same objective.

Now, with official Washington observing the anniversary, Republicans are accusing Democrats of politicizing the attack and blaming them for what the GOP describes as lax Capitol security.

"Unfortunately, over the past 12 months, House Democrats have been more interested in exploiting the events of January 6th for political purposes than in conducting basic oversight of the security vulnerabilities exposed that day," Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., the ranking Republican on the House Administration Committee, wrote in a letter Monday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The common thread, according to political experts: They are playing down Trump's culpability, and their own, while giving Republican voters comfort, at a time when most Americans — but a minority of GOP voters — say the former president bears significant blame for the violence.

Read the story.

McConnell criticizes Dems for trying to 'exploit' Jan. 6 anniversary

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement Thursday that Jan. 6 was "a dark day for Congress and our country."

"The United States Capitol, the seat of the first branch of our federal government, was stormed by criminals who brutalized police officers and used force to try to stop Congress from doing its job," he said. "This disgraceful scene was antithetical to the rule of law."

McConnell said that he supports "justice for those who broke the law" and criticized Democrats, saying they are trying to "exploit this anniversary to advance partisan policy goals."

"It is especially jaw-dropping to hear some Senate Democrats invoke the mob’s attempt to disrupt our country’s norms, rules, and institutions as a justification to discard our norms, rules, and institutions themselves," he said. “A year ago today, the Senate did not bend or break. We stuck together, stood strong, gaveled back in, and did our job. Senators should not be trying to exploit this anniversary to damage the Senate in a different way from within.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who unlike McConnell was among seven Republican senators who voted last February to convict Trump on the impeachment charge of inciting the riot, released a statement Thursday saying, "We ignore the lessons of January 6 at our own peril."

"Democracy is fragile; it cannot survive without leaders of integrity and character who care more about the strength of our Republic than about winning the next election," he said. "I said last year that the best way we can show respect for voters who are upset is by telling them the truth. The responsibility that elected officials have in this regard is fundamental to reversing the malaise gripping our current politics and ensuring that our democracy endures." 

Karl Rove: 'No absolution' for the 'attempt to overthrow our democracy'

Longtime Republican strategist Karl Rove urged his fellow Republicans to confront the "savagery" of last year's Capitol riot and not sweep it under the rug.

"I’ve been a Republican my entire life, and believe in what the Republican Party, at its best, has represented for decades," he said in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal published Wednesday evening. "There can be no soft-pedaling what happened and no absolution for those who planned, encouraged and aided the attempt to overthrow our democracy," said Rove, who was a top political advisor to former President George W. Bush.

"My criticisms are often aimed at Democrats; on the anniversary of Jan. 6, I’m addressing squarely those Republicans who for a year have excused the actions of the rioters," he continued.

He asked his fellow Republicans to engage in "a simple thought experiment: What if the other side had done it?"

"If Democrats had done what some Trump supporters did on that violent Jan. 6, Republicans would have criticized them mercilessly and been right to do so," he said. 

Stephanie Grisham says Trump was 'gleefully' watching TV coverage of Jan. 6 attack

Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Thursday during an interview on CNN that during the attack on the Capitol, Trump was "gleefully" watching the riot from the White House dining room. 

She said he kept hitting rewind and saying, "Look at all those people fighting for me." 

Her remarks echo recent comments made by Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the vice chair of the House select committee investigating the attack. 

"The committee has firsthand testimony now that he was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching the attack on television as the assault on the Capitol occurred. We know, as you know well, that the briefing room at the White House is just a mere few steps from the Oval Office," Cheney said Sunday on ABC News' "This Week."

Former President Jimmy Carter says he fears for U.S. democracy

Former President Jimmy Carter warned in a New York Times opinion article on Thursday that after Jan. 6, the country's democratic system still has the potential to collapse. 

Carter writes that "promoters of the lie that the election was stolen have taken over one political party and stoked distrust in our electoral systems. These forces exert power and influence through relentless disinformation, which continues to turn Americans against Americans."

"Politicians in my home state of Georgia, as well as in others, such as Texas and Florida, have leveraged the distrust they have created to enact laws that empower partisan legislatures to intervene in election processes," Carter says in the piece. "They seek to win by any means, and many Americans are being persuaded to think and act likewise, threatening to collapse the foundations of our security and democracy with breathtaking speed. I now fear that what we have fought so hard to achieve globally — the right to free, fair elections, unhindered by strongman politicians who seek nothing more than to grow their own power — has become dangerously fragile at home."

Extremists ‘resurfaced at the local level’ after Jan. 6

Domestic extremist groups ranging from the QAnon conspiracy movement and the Proud Boys to militia organizations and avowed white nationalists have re-emerged in recent months, frequently trying to effect change at the local level. 

But it’s not just the strategy that has shifted. Most far-right domestic extremist movements have also adapted their infrastructure and messaging, according to a report by the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council, a nonprofit international affairs think tank.

Read more about the shift.

Remembering being inside the House chamber as the Capitol was overrun

One year ago, I was one of a handful of journalists inside the House chamber when the Capitol building was breached by rioters. Three days later, I wrote about what it was like to scramble for a gas mask and to seek shelter alongside frightened members of Congress as an angry mob tried to breach the chamber doors.

On the anniversary of Jan. 6, in an essay for InStyle, I revisit the sights, sounds, and traumatic memories that I and so many other members of the Capitol Hill community have cannot forget. People are still hurting, and I am still trying to find the words for what we experienced that day.

Haley Talbot is an NBC News producer in the House of Representatives. Read the full essay here.


More than 100 groups argue Jan. 6 shows need for new voting rights law

Dozens of advocacy groups urged Senate Democrats on Thursday to pass voting rights legislation, arguing the Jan. 6 riot underscores the need for quick congressional action.

“Last January, our nation came too close to not having a peaceful transition of power. One year is enough. We cannot wait until the next violent attack to safeguard our nation,” over 100 national and state-based organizations led by Stand Up America wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The pressure campaign comes as Republicans condemn Democrats for linking last year’s attack on the Capitol to new election reform efforts. Schumer recently promised that the evenly split Senate would take up voting rights measures in January, while also vowing to hold a vote on changing the filibuster rules that require support from 60 senators to advance most legislation.

“This anniversary serves as a solemn reminder that our democracy remains under threat. One year after the deadly insurrection at our nation’s Capitol, not a single federal bill has been signed into law that would protect our democracy and our freedom to vote,” said Sean Eldridge, Stand Up America’s founder and president, in a statement.

Stephanie Grisham says ex-Trump officials planning effort to quash Trump 2024 run

Former Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Thursday that she's part of a group of about 15 other ex-Trump officials who are developing a plan to try to stop Donald Trump if he decides to run for president again. 

Grisham said in an interview on CNN that some of the officials in the group were both junior and senior to her in the White House. In addition to serving as Trump's press secretary, she also worked as Melania Trump's press secretary and chief of staff before resigning on Jan. 6, 2021.

The group's members have held several video and conference calls so far. They plan to meet next week, with some in-person and some participating virtually, she said. 

Grisham met Wednesday evening with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack and said she cooperated fully. 

Capitol Police to activate civil disturbance unit

The Capitol Police will activate their civil disturbance unit to address any demonstration activity that may arise around the Capitol on Thursday, and tactical and uniformed units will have an increased presence on and around Capitol Hill, the Senate Sergeant at Arms says. 

The notice, sent to all Senate staff, says they are “not aware of any specific threats to the U.S. Capitol complex or Senate state offices," but that there are two permitted candlelight vigils planned for Union Square, in front of the Capitol Building. 

The plaza on the east side of the Capitol will be closed to the public.  

Asked whether they would increase their security posture in light of potential threats, a Capitol Police spokesman said, "We cannot discuss potential intelligence or potential security plans.”

How Jan. 6 shaped the way these 2 freshman lawmakers viewed Congress

Reps. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, and Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., were only a few days into their tenures as lawmakers on Jan. 6 when a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol, trapping them in the House chamber.

They are just two of the 64 House freshmen who arrived in Washington a year ago. But even after they experienced the riot that day in the same room, their reflections about what happened couldn’t be more different, emblematic of the divisions about that day that remain on Capitol Hill.

Read more about their experience here.

Feds see uptick in unspecified threats associated with Jan. 6 anniversary but no credible plots

Federal law enforcement and intelligence officials have observed an uptick in calls for unspecified acts of violence in the past 48 hours associated with the Jan. 6 anniversary, a senior U.S. intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News Wednesday.

Some of the unspecified threats cited by the senior intelligence official are directed at lawmakers who voted to certify the 2020 presidential election the same day a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol attempting to prevent Congress from confirming President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

The official added that some websites are circulating conspiracy theories that the Jan. 6 riot was a false flag operation organized by the FBI, while other websites associated with foreign governments are amplifying those false narratives.

Read the story.

Most Republicans don't view Jan. 6 riot as violent threat against democracy, polls show

Most Americans view last year’s deadly riot at the Capitol as a violent threat to democracy, according to two polls released this week ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack inspired by former President Donald Trump’s election lies.

But most Republican respondents aligned with Trump, who has downplayed the attack and clung to his  debunked claim that a second term was stolen from him in 2020. A 52 percent majority of GOP adults surveyed in an ABC/Ipsos poll said the Jan. 6 rioters were “protecting democracy” as they stormed the Capitol and tried to block certification of Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. Forty-five percent of Republicans said the attack was a threat. 

In another poll, conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, a 39 percent plurality of Republicans described the riot as “extremely” or “very” violent. The remaining 61 percent were split between “somewhat” violent and “not very” or “not at all” violent.

Although an overall majority of respondents in both surveys held a more critical view of the riot and Trump’s responsibility for it, the data found deep splits between Democrats and Republicans. A 71 percent majority of GOP respondents in the ABC poll, for example, said they believed Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 election. He wasn’t.

Biden remarks, conversation with historians among Jan. 6 anniversary events

President Joe Biden is set to deliver remarks at the Capitol about the anniversary around 9 a.m. ET along with Vice President Kamala Harris from Statuary Hall. 

Around 10 a.m., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is scheduled to make a statement and hold a moment of reflection on the House floor. At 12 p.m., the House is expected to hold a moment of silence. 

The House will then hold a "historic perspective" session at 1 p.m., a conversation moderated by Library of Congress' Dr. Carla Hayden between historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham. 

At 2:30 p.m., lawmakers are expected to deliver testimonials about the Jan. 6 attack at a session led by Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo.

In the early evening at 5:30 p.m., Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other members of Congress will hold a prayer vigil on the Capitol steps. 

Former President Donald Trump had planned to hold a press conference Thursday evening, but announced Tuesday that he decided to cancel the event. 

A year after Capitol riot, American democracy still at risk, experts say

America survived the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but the explosion of political violence exposed the republic’s fragility. A year later, after an impeachment and amid federal investigations, the risk to America’s system of governance remains high, according to many elected officials and advocates. 

Read more here.