Bloodshed

A ton of reporters contributed to this Washington Post feature today about how the insurrection of January 6 played out. It starts off with these damning first five paragraphs.

Live television news coverage showed the horror accelerating minute by minute after 1:10 p.m., when Trump had called on his followers to march on the U.S. Capitol. The pro-Trump rioters toppled security barricades. They bludgeoned police. They scaled granite walls. And then they smashed windows and doors to breach the hallowed building that has stood for more than two centuries as the seat of American democracy.

The Capitol was under siege — and the president, glued to the television, did nothing. For 187 minutes, Trump resisted entreaties to intervene from advisers, allies and his elder daughter, as well as lawmakers under attack. Even as the violence at the Capitol intensified, even after Vice President Mike Pence, his family and hundreds of Congress members and their staffers hid to protect themselves, even after the first two people died and scores of others were assaulted, Trump declined for more than three hours to tell the renegades rioting in his name to stand down and go home.

During the 187 minutes that Trump stood by, harrowing scenes of violence played out in and around the Capitol. Twenty-five minutes into Trump’s silence, a news photographer was dragged down a flight of stairs and thrown over a wall. Fifty-two minutes in, a police officer was kicked in the chest and surrounded by a mob. Within the first hour, two rioters died as a result of cardiac events. Sixty-four minutes in, a rioter paraded a Confederate battle flag through the Capitol. Seventy-three minutes in, another police officer was sprayed in the face with chemicals. Seventy-eight minutes in, yet another police officer was assaulted with a flagpole. Eighty-three minutes in, rioters broke into and began looting the House speaker’s office. Ninety-three minutes in, another news photographer was surrounded, pushed down and robbed of a camera. Ninety-four minutes in, a rioter was shot and killed. One hundred two minutes in, rioters stormed the Senate chamber, stealing papers and posing for photographs around the dais. One hundred sixteen minutes in, a fourth police officer was crushed in a doorway and beaten with his own baton.

All in the first two hours.

Trump watched the attack play out on television and resisted acting, neither to coordinate a federal response nor to instruct his supporters to disperse. He all but abdicated his responsibilities as commander in chief — a president reduced to mere bystander. The tweets Trump sent during the first two hours of rioting were muddled at best. He disavowed violence but encouraged his supporters to press on with their fight at the Capitol. And throughout, he repeated the lie that the election was stolen.

The whole thing is harrowing to read.

October 31, 2021


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