By Beverly George, ACE Leader
On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, a group of Americans took control of the U.S. Capitol Building for several hours, blocking the function of our Congress as it met to certify electoral votes from the November 3, 2020 election.
I suffer from insomnia occasionally, and it came as no surprise when I tossed and turned that night. Did anyone sleep well?
I woke around 2:30 a.m. and read the news and found the daily Letters from an American by Heather Cox Richardson, professor of history at Boston College. After reading her essay, I read the early morning Washington Post article reviewing the January 6 events with time stamps. The timeline troubled me greatly, even though I had watched the TV coverage all day.
Between the two sources, here’s what I found. NOTE: All times are EST.
11:33 a.m.: President Donald Trump speaks to the crowd and lies about having won by a landslide and that the election was stolen from them. He invites supporters to walk with him to the Capitol. However, he returns to the White House at 12:59 p.m. while they make their way to the Capitol. At some time in the middle of the day, Rudy Giuliani speaks to the crowd and says “Let’s have trial by combat.”
12:05 p.m.: Congress meets in joint session to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s win. Dozens of Republicans are present to object to counting the submitted Electoral College votes from Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and other states.
12:10 p.m.: Vice President Mike Pence says he will not intervene to change the election outcome.
12:45 p.m.: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warns overturning Biden’s election would put our democracy into a “death spiral.”
12:46 p.m.: GOP members object to Arizona’s electoral votes for Biden.
12:49 to 12:54 p.m.: More GOP members object and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urges the Senate to accept the electoral votes, which reflect the voters’ decision.
12:55 p.m.: Republican National Committee headquarters is evacuated over “suspicious package,” according to the Washington Post. Hours later—at 2:58 a.m. on January 7—Heather Cox Richardson reports “police found two pipe bombs near the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C., as well as a truck full of weapons and ammunition, and mobs gathered at statehouses across the country, including in Kansas, Ohio, Minnesota, California, and Georgia.”
1:17 p.m.: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks and defends his challenge to Biden’s win in Arizona.
1:34 p.m.: Trump lashes out at Pence while his supporters breach U.S. Capitol.
1:34 p.m.: House and Senate recess as protesters enter and roam the Capitol.
1:48 p.m.: Washington Post reports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, 12th District) requests deployment of National Guard troops to Capitol. For two and a half hours, the White House, the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security all remain silent, according to Richardson and the Washington Post. During this time, President-elect Joe Biden speaks to the country and urges President Trump to tell his supporters to go home.
4:17 p.m.: Trump issues his video from the Rose Garden, which reiterates his lies about his huge election victory having been stolen and ends with a call to supporters to “go home, we love you, you’re very special.”
5 p.m.: Heather Cox Richardson reports that “by 5 p.m., acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller issued a statement saying he had conferred with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, Vice President Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and had fully activated the D.C. National Guard.” Trump was not mentioned in the statement. This was three and a half hours after the Washington Post reported Pelosi had requested help.
5:46 p.m.: Speaker Pelosi calls for Electoral College certification to continue Wednesday night.
Prior to 7:30 p.m.: custodial staff thoroughly scrubs the Capitol chambers.
7:34 p.m.: Senate reopens with message to get back to work.
8:20 p.m.: Speaker Pelosi brings House back into session.
9:17 p.m.: Senate rejects challenge to Arizona’s electoral votes.
10:15 p.m.: House rejects challenge to Arizona’s electoral votes.
11:01 p.m.: Congress resumes counting votes.
11:03 p.m.: Georgia’s electoral votes certified for Biden after Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) withdraws objection.
11:29 p.m.: House and Senate adjourn to debate objection to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes.
11:48 p.m.: Senate rejects challenge to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes.
2:13 a.m.: House rejects challenge to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes.
2:46 a.m.: Pence officially affirms Biden’s win.
Heather Cox Richardson reported that, at day’s end, four people had died, at least 52 perpetrators had been arrested, and 14 law enforcement officers had been injured.
Prior to yesterday’s events, the following Trump staff purges occurred.
On Nov. 13, 2020, CNN reported the Trump administration had removed Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and four senior civil officials and placed loyalists in their place.
On Nov. 18, 2020, CNN reported Trump’s firing Chris Krebs, Homeland Security’s Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, after he reported there was “no evidence” any voting system had been compromised by deleting, losing, or changing votes. Matt Travis, the number 2 official, also resigned.
All of this begs several questions.
The Capitol Police were quickly overwhelmed by the breach. Why was security so weak? Why weren’t the National Guard troops nearby, ready and on stand-by?
Before January 6, who in the government knew the plans, details, and the extent of this coup attempt? Was the FBI following any noise on the internet? Where was Homeland Security? Trump was tweeting and seeking the support of his followers and had invited them to D.C. for the formerly ceremonial event.
To what extent will the 52 arrested coup members be prosecuted?
What future in American politics will Josh Hawley (R-MO), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), John Kennedy (R-LA), Roger Marshall (R-KS), and new Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) have? Remember their names.
This was the first time in our history the Capitol was breached by American citizens. I feel both anger and sadness and the resolve that this must not happen again.
ACE Leader Beverly George also is a member of Indivisible, the Naperville League of Women Voters, and the Citizens Climate Lobby. She also volunteers with her parish PADS group. A former chemist, George worked in clinical chemistry and hematology research at the Centers for Disease Control for six years and taught chemistry and freshman science at Naperville North High School for 20 years.