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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:

One year later, congressman fears U.S. hasn't learned the lessons of Jan. 6

Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., had an immediate answer when asked Thursday if he believes the U.S. has learned the right lessons from Jan. 6, 2021.

"No," he told NBC News, standing under the U.S. Capitol Dome on the one-year anniversary of the attack. A photo of Kim cleaning up the rotunda the morning after the riot went viral last year.

"I believe that we are more divided as a country now than we were a year ago," he added. "Not only have we not learned the lessons, I think we've actually gone on an even more dangerous path."

Kim said the problem was evident when more than 140 Republicans voted to block the counting of some electoral votes for Joe Biden, then the president-elect, even after the attempted insurrection.

"There was a choice to be made in that room, down the hall, where the Republicans could have rejected what happened this day and used it as a moment to turn the corner. But they chose not to. And every day since then, they've continued to double down on that," he said. "And I just find that to be so disgraceful."

Does he believe things will get better in 2022?

"I don't know. Right now, I don't necessarily think so. I see a million ways where this gets worse. I see a handful of ways where it gets better. But I wouldn't be doing this job if I didn't have some hope that it could get better," Kim said. "I truly believe that the opposite of democracy is apathy."

House Democrats trapped in gallery on Jan. 6 serve lunch to Capitol Police officers

The group of House Democrats who were seated in the House gallery on Jan. 6 served food to Capitol Police officers on Thursday.

"Gratitude is the antidote," tweeted Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., alongside a photo of him handing out food.

Alexandra Bacallao / NBC News

Phillips told NBC News in an interview he had considered leaping from the observation balcony above the House floor to escape rioters. He was trapped with about 20 of his Democratic colleagues.

"I tried to calculate the distance down," Phillips recalled in the interview, noting that he concluded that the risk of grievous injury or death was too great.

Alexandra Bacallao / NBC News

Capitol police chief addresses officers on Jan. 6 anniversary

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger sent a video of thanks and encouragement to all the department's officers this morning on the anniversary of the attack on the Capitol. 

In the video, obtained by NBC News from two law enforcement sources, Manger acknowledges the failures of department leadership one year ago and says that it is his responsibility to ensure the department is “ready for our next test, our next challenge.” 

“One year after a day marked by departmental failures, leadership failures, I promise you that we will be better prepared for whatever we face in the future,” he says in the video. “The improvements we're making will be sustained for years to come. This is my responsibility. And I owe you my total commitment to fulfilling it.”

But, according to conversations with several officers, rank-and-file police officer morale remains poor and the department is just as strained as it was on Jan. 6, 2021, and possibly even more so as their responsibilities have grown.

Rep. Norma Torres shares videos of her experience during Capitol breach

Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., marked the anniversary of the Capitol riot by sharing videos of what she experienced in the House chamber during the attack. 

Torres, who took office in 2015, said she received multiple security alerts before the House and Senate were informed that the Capitol had been breached. 

One of the videos was taken at around 40 minutes into the assault, Torres said. By then, she said, tear gas had been deployed, a shot had been fired, and she had crawled the entire length of the gallery. At one point, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., began to pray.

After a previous failed evacuation attempt, Torres and her colleagues prepared to exit. They found a safe room where she said the lawmakers ultimately weren't truly safe.

Torres also said in a statement Thursday morning, "We won't forget, we won't let the American people forget and we won't stop working every day to preserve our freedoms." 

Dick and Liz Cheney only Republicans in House chamber for moment of silence

Image: Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, with his daughter Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the House panel investigating the Capitol riot, in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was on the House floor Thursday for the moment of silence with his daughter Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the House select committee investigating Jan. 6. 

They were the only two Republicans in the House chamber and sat in the first row together on the Republican side. The former vice president spoke with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., before the session began and a line of other Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., greeted him and shook his hand.

Speaking about the GOP leadership's handling of Jan. 6, he said, "Well, it's not a leadership that resembles any of the folks I knew when I was here for 10 years." Cheney served in Congress from 1979 until 1989, including serving as House minority whip and chair of the House Republican Conference.

He said the fact that no other Republicans showed up for the anniversary events "is a reflection of where our party is. Very concerning.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, the only other Republican on the Jan. 6 committee, who has bashed his other GOP colleagues and is retiring from Congress at the end of this year, said he wanted to be there Thursday but was awaiting the birth of his child. 

"Wish I could be there too, but I’m on baby watch. I am in spirit," he wrote on Twitter. 

Pelosi says Jan. 6 was 'as if somebody in the White House dropped a bomb' on Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday reflected on her experience a year ago as the mob of Trump supporters violently breached the Capitol. 

In an interview that will air Thursday evening on "NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt," she recalled initially brushing off members of security in the House chamber telling her that she needed to evacuate, not realizing the seriousness of the threat. They were adamant, however, that she had to leave. Security whisked her away to an undisclosed location and that's when she saw visuals of the situation outside and inside the Capitol. 

"It breaks your heart — it’s as if somebody in the White House dropped a bomb on the Congress of the United States," Pelosi said.

Watch the full interview on "NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt" at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT.

Asked about her most memorable point of Jan. 6, Pelosi paused for a few moments and described the trauma of the entire day. She expressed shock about the Confederate flags being waved outside and inside the Capitol; violence against police officers by those who profess to support law enforcement; the noose  hung on the grounds; and chants of wanting to hang Vice President Mike Pence and shoot the House speaker.

"But the thing that is unforgivable about January 6 is the traumatic impact that it had on the people who serve our country," Pelosi said. "Whether it's our police officers, or the staff. Our staffs are young, idealistic people who believe in our country and that they should be hiding under tables or behind locked doors with people banging on the door to do violence to them, or seeking their bosses..."

Pelosi continued: "So when we came back from the undisclosed location, And I saw my staff, I saw in their eyes something I had never seen before. The trauma, the fear of it all."

With threats against lawmakers skyrocketing, Capitol Police will need more staff, chief says

In the 12 months since a pro-Trump mob stormed the halls of Congress, the U.S. Capitol Police has doubled the size of its investigative staff to address the rising number of threats against lawmakers.

“The biggest challenge I think we have is keeping up with the number of threats,” Capitol Police Chief J. Tom Manger said Wednesday in testimony before the Senate Rules Committee, on the eve of the Jan. 6 anniversary. “We have … doubled the number of officers that investigate these threats, agents that investigate these threats. And if they continue to go up the way they have, clearly we are going to need additional officers to assign to this responsibility.”

NBC News in November reported on the increased dangers facing members of Congress since the Jan. 6 riot, with Capitol Police saying they expected the number of threats in 2021 to substantially surpass the 8,600 reported the previous year. Many of those threats have been targeted at GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach or convict former Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riot with false claims of a stolen election, as well as Democrats who served as impeachment managers at the former president's trial.

Manger's congressional testimony comes as Congress examines the events of last year's attack and keeps pressure on the Capitol Police, which is responsible for protecting the building and all those who work there.

Senate, House hold moment of silence

The Senate and House are now both holding a moment of silence for those who lost their lives on January 6th. 

Sen. Cory Booker, presiding over the Senate chamber, announced that the moment of silence is "in observance of events of Jan. 6, 2021.”

Still no suspects in Jan. 6 pipe bomb attempt

The FBI has yet to figure out who planted two pipe bombs the night before the riot at Republican and Democratic national headquarters near the Capitol. Agents report no breakthroughs so far, despite releasing surveillance video showing the suspected bomber that night on Capitol Hill.

Federal criminal charges have been filed against 705 people in connection with the riots, and about one-fourth of them have pleaded guilty. Judges have imposed sentences on roughly 70 defendants, and 31 of them have been ordered to serve time behind bars for periods ranging from a few days to just over five years.

Read more about the ongoing FBI investigation here.

A growing list of Trump aides and allies who have sued the Jan. 6 committee

A growing list of officials and aides from former President Donald Trump's administration, and Trump himself, are filing lawsuits against the Jan. 6 panel, which has subpoenaed individuals who lawmakers believe to have knowledge of or involvement in the events leading up to the riot at the Capitol.

The panel is facing lawsuits from Trump, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, attorney John Eastman, and Sebastian Gorka, a conservative radio talk show host and ex-Trump aide.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a close ally of Trump, also filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the committee, as well as Verizon, to block a subpoena for his phone records.

Over the past few months, the Jan. 6 committee has been accelerating its investigation into the riot, as well as any actions or inaction by Trump and his allies. The House voted last month to refer Meadows to the Justice Department for a criminal charge over his refusal to answer the committee's questions.

The House previously voted to refer former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to the Justice Department for contempt charges after he defied the committee's subpoenas. Bannon has been charged with two counts of contempt and could face up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine if he is convicted. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial in July.

Murkowski: U.S. 'tarnished' by Jan. 6

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on Thursday blamed former President Donald Trump for the violence of Jan. 6 and said U.S. democracy was still on shaky ground.

"A year later, the sadness and anger of knowing that it was Americans who breached the center of our democracy, to thwart certification of a lawful election, remains with me," she said in a statement, adding that "American institutions and ideals remain tarnished by this terrible event."

She continued, saying Americans "cannot ignore the riots of January 6th nor what led up to the insurrection at our Capitol."

"We must understand so that it is never repeated," she said.

Murkowski was one of seven Republican senators who last year voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial for his role in the Jan. 6 riot. Trump has since endorsed a challenger to Murkowski, Kelly Tshibaka. Murkowski is the only one of the seven senators to be on the ballot this fall.

One of the other seven senators, Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said Thursday in a statement, "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.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis calls Jan. 6 anniversary 'Christmas' for the media

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday dismissed coverage of the anniversary of the Capitol riot as a media craze.

“I mean, honestly, I'm not going to watch any of it,” DeSantis, a Republican, said at a news conference. “But you're going to see the D.C.-New York media — I mean, this is their Christmas, Jan. 6, OK?”

“They are going to take this and milk this for anything they could to try to be able to smear anyone whoever supported Donald Trump," he said.

DeSantis is seeking a second term as governor this year and has seen his national profile grow, with many Republicans cheering his hands-off management of the pandemic and willingness to fight GOP culture wars. National donors have flocked to his re-election campaign. And polls show he has established himself as a leading alternative to Trump if the former president doesn’t run again in 2024, although neither men have launched an official bid.

Warning against 'mob violence,' Schumer pushes voting rights bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., used a speech on the Senate floor Thursday marking the Capitol riot to push for Democrats' proposed voting reforms, warning "mob violence" could become the norm unless trust in elections is restored. 

"The warnings of history are clear," he said. "When democracies are in danger, it often starts with a mob. That's what happened a year ago here in this building, a mob attack. For mob violence to win the day, it doesn't need everyone to join in. It just needs a critical mass of people to stay out of the way, to ignore it, to underestimate it, to excuse it, and even condone it."

Schumer, who is Jewish, says he came within 30 feet of "nasty, racist, bigoted insurrectionists" on Jan. 6, some of whom he said yelled, "There’s the big Jew, let’s get him!" 

The Democrat added that the Republican plan to make more modest reforms to the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which governs how electoral votes are tallied, is "insufficient" and "even offensive." 

If political violence is allowed to rule, Schumer continued, "everything will be up for grabs by whoever has the biggest clubs, the sharpest spears, the most effective lies."

Analysis: Stepping away from unifier role, Biden taps Democrats' frustrations

In his remarks Thursday, President Joe Biden did something he hadn’t done in a year: forcefully tie the horrors of the Capitol attack to Donald Trump. Referring to his predecessor not by name but repeatedly as “the former president,” he then made his point in the simplest words, loud and clear: “A defeated former president … he can't accept he lost.”

He painted Trump as a sore loser, whose inability to embrace the truth of his defeat only deepened the political chasm dividing Americans.

“We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie. And here is the truth: The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He has done so because he values power over principle,” Biden said of Trump. “Because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest, than America’s interest. And because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution, he can’t accept he lost."

Stepping away from his preferred role as the great unifier, Biden tapped into the frustrations and anger of his own supporters who complain that Trump's stolen-election lie has acted as a cancer that has states stripping away voting rights or tinkering with local electoral processes. 

It is the kind of language that Democratic political leaders had hoped — and some had privately urged — the White House to employ as they’ve watched portions of the Republican Party break off into more radicalized factions. Many fear the precedent a denial of the election's true outcome, embraced by those in the party, would set for future elections. 

In remarks to reporters after his address, Biden was asked if pointing the blame at Trump only further politicized the day. 

“No, look, the way you have to heal, you have to recognize the extent of the wound. You can't pretend,” Biden said. “I'd just as soon not face it. You got to face it. That's what great nations do. They face the truth, deal with it, and move on.”

Biden deliberately steered clear of tying voting rights into his remarks as some had hoped. The purposeful move was intended to keep the focus on the depth and severity of the Jan. 6 attacks, according to a White House adviser. But the White House made clear the president and Vice President Kamala Harris intend to travel to Atlanta next week to focus on the right to vote. 

What happened to the people behind some of Jan. 6’s viral moments

Of the more than 700 people arrested in the Capitol riot, a few stood out after pictures of them went viral during and after the attack. Here's a look at what's happened to them.

'QAnon Shaman'

Jacob Chansley of Phoenix was photographed in the Capitol on Jan. 6 with his face painted red, white and blue while wearing a horned helmet and carrying a U.S. flag and a bullhorn. The longtime supporter of QAnon conspiracy theories was already known as the "QAnon Shaman" for attending protests wearing the elaborate horned fur costume.

Prosecutors described him as the “public face of the Capitol riot” in court papers, and he pleaded guilty in September to felony obstruction of an official proceeding. He was sentenced to 41 months in prison, and is now appealing his plea and sentence.

Image: Jacob Chansley
Jacob Chansley yells inside the Senate Chamber on Jan. 6, 2021.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

 

Richard "Bigo" Barnett

Barnett was arrested after a news photographer took a picture of him sitting with his feet up on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office. He told a reporter for The New York Times that he left Pelosi a nasty note and took one of her envelopes, but "I put a quarter on her desk" to pay for it.

The Arkansas man is awaiting trial on charges that include entering and remaining on restricted grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, violent entry, theft of public property and disrupting official proceedings. Prosecutors said he was carrying a 950,000-volt stun gun, which Barnett's lawyer said didn't have batteries. Barnett's pleaded not guilty, and at one point was selling autographed pictures of himself with his feet up on his desk to raise money for his legal defense.

Image: Richard Barnett
Richard Barnett sits inside the office of Nancy Pelosi as he protest inside the Capitol, on Jan. 6, 2021.Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images file

 

Adam Johnson

Johnson, 36, of Parrish, Florida, was photographed smiling and waving in a Trump winter hat as he carted off a lectern with Pelosi's seal on it. The lectern was later recovered in a different part of the Capitol. He pleaded guilty in November to a misdemeanor count of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and faces up to six months behind bars when he's sentenced next month.

Image: Congress Holds Joint Session To Ratify 2020 Presidential Election
A protester waves to a photographer as he carries a lectern in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

 

The man in the "Camp Auschwitz" hoodie

Robert Keith Packer, 57, of Virginia, was arrested on Jan. 13, according to court documents

A store owner in Newport News, Va., recognized Packer as a customer and contacted law enforcement. Surveillance cameras at the store captured Packer about a month before the siege wearing the same “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt, and authorities used that information to help identify and locate him.

Packer was charged with two counts: entering and remaining in a restricted building, and violent entry and disorderly conduct and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building. He pleaded not guilty and was released on a personal recognizance bond on the condition he stay away from Washington.

A man wears a "Camp Auschwitz" shirt during protests at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Robert Keith Packer wears a "Camp Auschwitz" shirt during protests at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.EOG

The Confederate flag man 

Kevin Seefried, 51, came to Washington on Jan. 6 with his 23-year-old son Hunter to hear then-President Donald Trump speak. He also brought with him a Confederate battle flag that he normally displays outside of his home in Wilmington, Del.

Both were identified after the FBI received a report from a co-worker of Hunter Seefried that Hunter had bragged about being in the Capitol with his father on Jan. 6, according to court documents

The five charges that both men face are: obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.

Image: Supporters of President Donald Trump protest in the Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 6, 2021.
Supporters of President Donald Trump protest in the Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 6, 2021.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images file

 

Capitol Police chief told Congress of 'significant improvements' since Jan. 6

The U.S. Capitol Police chief told Congress on Wednesday that while much more work needs to be done, the agency has made "significant improvements" to protect the building in the year since a pro-Trump mob violently clashed with its officers and desecrated the halls of Congress.

"January 6 exposed critical deficiencies with operational planning, intelligence, staffing, and equipment," Chief J. Tom Manger said in a prepared statement to members of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. "I'm pleased to report that we have addressed a significant portion of the many recommendations issued to the department."

Lawmakers are examining the events of last year's attack and keeping pressure on the agency, which is responsible for protecting the Capitol. 

Read more from Manger's testimony.

What's been proposed in Congress to protect against election coups

One year after the deadly attack on the U.S. CapitolCongress is eyeing new laws to prevent future attempts to subvert democracy, with the goal of passing legislation this year.

The House committee investigating the riot is considering "enhanced penalties" for presidential dereliction of duty, as Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., says it has evidence that former President Donald Trump sat idly by and watched the violence unfold on television.

Read more here.

Biden explains why he didn't refer to Trump by name in his speech

After Biden concluded his speech marking the Capitol riot anniversary, he explained to reporters why he decided not to mention Trump by name.

"I think we just have to face the facts of what happened, draw a clear picture for American people," he said as he was departing the Capitol. "It's not about me. It's not about the vice president. It really isn’t. That's the thing that bothers me most about this sort of attitude that seems to be emerging to some degree in American politics: 'It's not about you. It's about me.'"

He continued, "It's about the system and about somebody who decides to put himself above everything. And so, but I did not want to turn it into a contemporary political battle between me and the president. It's way beyond that. It's way beyond that."

In his remarks from Statuary Hall, Biden repeatedly identified his predecessor as "the former president" rather than by name. Likewise, former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, would often not refer to Trump by name. 

Biden's sharp tone splits partisan reaction

Immediate reaction to President Joe Biden's unusually forceful speech condemning former President Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection split along predictable partisan lines, with Republicans calling it "brazen politicization" and Democrats calling it a "vocal defense of democracy."

In his remarks, Biden appealed for bipartisan unity against the political violence of last year's riot and recognized Republicans who condemned the attack, but also minced no words against the "defeated former president" for stoking the attack.

"What brazen politicization of January 6 by President Biden," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tweeted. "I wonder if the Taliban who now rule Afghanistan with al-Qaeda elements present, contrary to President Biden’s beliefs, are allowing this speech to be carried?"

Trump himself in a statement responded to Biden's speech by calling it "political theater" that is "just a distraction for [sic] the fact Biden has completely and totally failed."

Meanwhile, Democrats praised Biden's tone. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, called Biden's forceful address a "vocal defense of democracy" on MSNBC, saying he hopes it will lead to an "awakening" about the danger he believes Trump still represents.

Trump responds to Biden, fundraises off speech

Former President Donald Trump didn't let the cancellation of his planned Thursday news conference stop him from repeating his election lies and raising money.

While Biden slammed Trump from the Capitol, the former president sent out a fundraising email to his supporters, offering a chance to meet him and take a photo at his Jan. 15 rally in Florence, Arizona.

And afterward, Trump sent out a statement calling the 2020 election "rigged" — the same lie that fueled the pro-Trump mob that tried to sack the Capitol a year ago.

"They want all conversation concerning the Election 'canceled,'" Trump said, despite Biden having spoken at length about his own victory and Trump's defeat.

In the fundraising pitch, Trump offered to fly the winning donor and a friend to Florence and pay for their hotel accommodations. Florence is in Pinal County, where Trump won 58 percent of the vote to Biden's 40 percent in 2020.

House Jan. 6 panel pushes out flurry of tweets

When Biden wrapped up, the select committee investigating the attack launched a flurry of retweets from members of the panel. 

"On this solemn anniversary, the danger to our democracy is greater than ever," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., wrote.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., warned that if America does not defend its democracy, "we will lose it."

One of the panel’s two Republicans, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, offered his thoughts on how to “make sure it never happens again.”

Biden calls out 'phony partisan audits' that did not change results

In his speech addressing the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Biden blasted the "phony partisan audits" that were undertaken in response to false claims of widespread voter fraud as well as Trump and allies repeated failures in court to try and overturn the election.

"The truth is that no election in American history has been more closely scrutinized or more carefully counted," Biden said. "Every legal challenge questioning the results ... was rejected. Often rejected by Republican appointed judges, including judges appointed by the former president himself, from state courts to the United States Supreme Court."

"Recounts were undertaken in state after state," he continued. "Georgia counted its results three times, with one recount by hand. Phony partisan audits were undertaken, long after the election in several states. None changed the results. And in some of them, the irony is, the margin of victory actually grew slightly."

The audits Biden mentioned include the partisan ballot review carried out earlier this year by the Arizona state Senate in Maricopa County, Arizona's most vote-rich locale. To carry out the review, state Republicans brought in the "Cyber Ninja's" firm, which was run by a person who promoted election conspiracies. Elections experts have criticized the group's tactics as illegitimate, but ultimately, their final report said Biden won the county by even more votes than the certified tally.

The legal effort from Trump and his allies to overturn Biden's victory went nowhere. Dozens of lawsuits were filed in swing states across the country. They were dismissed by judges or withdrawn and ultimately did not lead to any change in the electoral results. 

GOP Senate candidates in Pa. won't say if they would have certified Biden's victory

Republican Senate candidates in Pennsylvania — home to one of the most competitive races of 2022 — are dodging questions about whether they would have voted to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state.

The Philadelphia Inquirer attempted to survey five of the top GOP contenders angling to succeed Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican who is not seeking another term in this year’s midterm elections. (Toomey stood by the 2020 results in Pennsylvania, where Biden narrowly beat then-President Donald Trump, and did not object to certification.) Jeff Bartos, a real estate developer and the party’s losing candidate for lieutenant governor in 2018, was the only candidate to respond. Bartos acknowledged Biden won the 2020 election but did not say if he would have voted to certify Pennsylvania’s results.

Republican hopefuls who did not respond, according to the Inquirer, were: Mehmet Oz, the TV doctor who entered the Senate race in November; Carla Sands, Trump’s former ambassador to Denmark; conservative commentator Kathy Barnette; and David McCormick, a former hedge fund executive who is exploring a bid and expected to launch an official campaign soon.

Biden says the U.S. is 'in a battle for the soul of America'

Biden said that the "pain and scars" of Jan. 6 "run deep" and that the U.S. is in a "battle for the soul of America." 

"We will win," Biden said. "I know how difficult democracy is and I'm crystal clear about the threats America faces, but I also know that our darkest days can lead to light and hope from the death and destruction."

Biden said he didn't seek the fight brought to the Capitol a year ago, "but I will not shrink from it either." 

"I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation, and allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy," he continued. 

His comments come as Democrats try to move forward on their push for voting rights reforms to protect and expand access to the polls and casting ballots. Congress is also eyeing new laws to prevent future attempts to subvert democracy, with the goal of passing legislation this year. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have opened the door to revising an obscure 1887 law that governs the process of counting electoral votes sent to Congress by states for presidential elections.

Analysis: Could this be Biden's unofficial re-election launch?

If there is to be a Biden-Trump rematch in November 2024, Democrats will be able to look back at Thursday as the day their man fully joined the fight.

"He isn't just a former president," Biden said of Trump. "He's a defeated former president." 

In his most personal and political remarks since taking office, Biden repeatedly took aim at Trump — for watching the riot unfold on television and "doing nothing" and for spreading lies about both the outcome of the 2020 election and its integrity.

"Here’s the truth: The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election," Biden said. "He has done so because he values power over principle."

Biden delivered his attack on Trump from the Capitol in a made-for-viral-clips address memorializing the anniversary of a riot that has parallels to the violent 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va., that Biden said informed his decision to run in 2020.

If the political implications of his speech weren't clear from his rhetorical shots at Trump, Biden repeated the theme of his 2020 campaign near the end of his remarks: "We are in a battle for the soul of America."

 

Biden calls Trump 'a defeated former president'

Biden said that even before the first ballot was cast in the 2020 election, "the former president was pre-emptively sowing doubt about the election results."

Biden said that Trump and his supporters decided that the only way for them to win is to suppress the vote and subvert U.S. elections. He said that the second big lie told by Trump and his supporters was that the results couldn't be trusted. Biden never referred to Trump by name, only as "the former president."

Biden said that there's "zero proof" that the election results were inaccurate. He said that Trump and his supporters have never been able to explain how they accept the other election results from November 2020 in which their choices for governor and members of Congress were elected. 

"He's not just a former president. He's a defeated former president," Biden said.

Biden says Trump, Republicans have 'spread a web of lies' about the 2020 election

Image: Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks at the US Capitol to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Capitol, on Jan. 6, 2022.Drew Angerer / AFP - Getty Images

Biden said in his speech that Trump has "created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election." 

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

He continued, "He can't accept he lost even though that's what 93 United States senators, his own attorney general, his own vice president, governors and state officials in every battleground state have all said."

Biden said that too many Republicans are not standing against Trump and "seem to no longer want to be the party, the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan, the Bushes or whatever my other disagreements are with Republicans."

"At this moment, we must decide what kind of nation are we going to be?" he added. "Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm? Are we going to be a nation where we allow partisan election officials to overturn the legally expressed rule that people are going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth?" 

Biden slams Trump for Jan. 6, but says 'we the people prevailed'

Speaking from the Capitol's Statuary Hall, President Joe Biden said Thursday that "democracy was attacked, simply attacked" on Jan. 6, 2021.

In remarks noting the anniversary of the deadly riot, Biden slammed Trump for trying to prevent a peaceful transfer of power and inciting a riot. 

"Our democracy held, we the people endured, we the people prevailed," said Biden, who said that people should remember on this day that such an attack should "never, never happen again." 

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.