One Year Later, Trump-Dem Feud Over US Capitol Attack Rages On
06:52 GMT 06.01.2022 (Updated: 07:32 GMT 06.01.2022)
© AP Photo / Jose Luis MaganaIn this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. U.S.
© AP Photo / Jose Luis Magana
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Biden administration and a number of American lawmakers plan to hold events and deliver speeches on Thursday to mark the first anniversary of the attack on the US Capitol.
This comes just as a congressional panel is escalating pressure on ex-President Donald Trump over his purported role in the matter, while Republicans blast Democrats for politicising the issue.
On 6 January 2021, a large group of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to stop lawmakers from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, after Trump claimed the results were invalid due to voter fraud. At least five people died in connection with the riots.
The 6 January siege was the biggest attack on the US Capitol since the British Army burned the building and other landmarks down in the War of 1812.
The incident led to Trump's second impeachment by the Democratic-led House, which accused the then-president of inciting an insurrection. The riots also spawned a congressional probe and hundreds of prosecutions of those allegedly involved.
However, many Republicans have accused the Democrats of inflating and exploiting the situation. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy earlier this week said the rival party is using the one year anniversary of the attack as a "partisan political weapon".
On the other hand, many believe the incident - and Trump's handling of it - has fuelled extremism even within the US armed forces. Last month, three retired generals in a Washington Post op-ed called on the Pentagon to prepare for a coup by 2024.
University of Houston History Professor Gerald Horne warned that the Defence Department programme to root out extremists may be "too late".
"The country is more divided now than any time since the Civil War", Horne told Sputnik. "It [6 January] encouraged extremists, who - by all indicators - are planning a replay".
White House Set to Target Trump
US President Joe Biden plans to deliver a commemoration speech on Thursday during which the White House expects he will address the significance of what happened.
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki on Wednesday said Biden is likely to lay out "the singular responsibility President Trump has for the chaos and carnage that we saw, and he will forcibly push back on the lies spread by the former president in an attempt to mislead the American people and his own supporters".
The House of Representatives will also commemorate the anniversary of the 6 January events on Thursday, starting at noon with a prayer and moment of silence on the floor followed by remarks from lawmakers who will share their experiences of the day of the attack.
This will be followed by a "Historic Perspective" conversation between historians "to establish and preserve the narrative of January 6th", according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Other members of the House and Senate will also gather on the steps of the Capitol for a prayer vigil.
© REUTERS / Leah MillisAn explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump riot in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021.
An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump riot in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021.
Trump originally planned to hold a news conference on Thursday to discuss what he called the "rigged" 2020 presidential election. However, on Tuesday, Trump said he had cancelled the presser in light of the "bias and dishonesty" of the congressional panel probing the incident and "the Fake News Media".
In terms of security for Thursday, a US Homeland Security spokesperson told Sputnik they have detected no credible threats. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said they have no grave security concerns or intelligence that indicates there would be any problems while the Pentagon said no National Guard units are expected to be on the grounds.
With respect to the long-term, while Homeland Security said it has enhanced its ability to detect, analyse, and respond to threats since the riots, the Capitol Police are facing a manpower deficit. On Wednesday, Manger said the Capitol Police force is currently experiencing a shortage of 457 officers. They are planning to hire 280 officers this year and 280 more over the next three years to provide sufficient security for members of Congress.
Probe, Law Enforcement Efforts Heat Up
In the run-up to the attempt to block certification, the Trump campaign had lost more than 50 lawsuits alleging voter fraud in a failed bid to reverse the outcome of the election. Moreover, several US election security agencies and the Department of Justice disputed Trump's allegations of voter fraud.
The House Committee investigating the 6 January riot has made a massive effort to seek testimony from former Trump administration officials with knowledge of any behind-the-scenes activity that occurred the day of the Capitol attack. The committee is seeking a phone call Trump made a few hours before his supporters tried to disrupt the certification of the 2020 election results, chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) told The Guardian.
© AP Photo / Andrew HarnikMembers of the National Guard walk past the dome of the Capitol Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021
Members of the National Guard walk past the dome of the Capitol Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021
© AP Photo / Andrew Harnik
On Tuesday, the committee said it is seeking records from Fox News anchor Sean Hannity regarding communication he had with Trump and other then-White House officials.
The committee is also waging a legal battle to gain access to records against the objections of Trump's lawyers, who claim they must remain confidential due to executive privilege. The National Archives has identified approximately 1,600 pages of documents as relevant to the probe while Trump is seeking to prevent the investigators from accessing some 750 of them.
The House panel has also subpoenaed numerous former Trump White House officials and individuals who organised pro-Trump rallies in Washington the day of the attack. The House has held former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress while former Trump adviser Steve Bannon is already being prosecuted for failing to cooperate with the probe.
Meanwhile, US prosecutors have charged over 700 people for crimes related to the 6 January riot while at least ten Capitol Police officers have filed lawsuits against Trump for allegedly instigating the attack.
However, Reuters reported in August, citing officials, that the FBI found scant evidence the attack was the result of an organised plot and found insufficient evidence that Trump was involved in organising the violence.
The events of that day led to social media giants Facebook and Twitter banning Trump from their platforms. They insisted that the bans on Trump do not constitute censorship but were set up for public safety in response to the 6 January unrest at the US Capitol.
Trump had 88 million followers on Twitter before he was banned.
© AP Photo / Matt RourkeThis April 26, 2017, file photo shows the Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. A tech-focused civil liberties group on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, sued to block President Donald Trump's executive order that seeks to regulate social media, saying it violates the First Amendment and chills speech
This April 26, 2017, file photo shows the Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. A tech-focused civil liberties group on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, sued to block President Donald Trump's executive order that seeks to regulate social media, saying it violates the First Amendment and chills speech
© AP Photo / Matt Rourke
After failing to get the situation overturned via the courts, Trump instead decided to announce his own social media company. In October, the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) said it will become a publicly listed company as an alternative to liberal media and will launch a social network named "TRUTH" Social.
Trump, the company chairman, in a statement said he created TRUTH Social and TMTG "to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech".