On Jan. 6, tens of thousands of Americans, including many self-proclaimed supporters of President Donald Trump, protesting President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 presidential election, stormed the Capitol Building, forcing officials to evacuate as the states’ electoral votes were certified.
Rioters, invigorated by the President’s remarks at a morning rally near the building, breached security and made their way into the Capitol’s Rotunda shortly after 1 p.m. ET, according to reports from CNN.
The insurrection was incited by President Trump following a phone call with Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump pressured Raffensperger to “find” votes that would flip the state in his favor. The President continued to pressure Raffensperger, but no extra ballots were found in Georgia’s election database.
After Christmas, Trump continuously tweeted about the “big rally” that would take place on Jan. 6 with the hashtag #StopTheSteal, regarding the presidential election he believes was “stolen.”
“January 6th. See you in D.C.,” Trump tweeted on New Year’s Day.
“We’re gonna walk down to the Capitol, and we’re gonna cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women…” Trump said before the rally, referring to officials who objected to the election results. “We’re not gonna cheer so much for some of them,” he said.
Rioters committed heinous crimes that desecrated The People’s House, including breaking into and scaling the walls of the Senate Chamber. The Confederate Flag was flown in a United States federal building for the first time.
Police cleared rioters from the building at approximately 5:40 p.m. ET, after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed a citywide 6 p.m. curfew.
Vice President Mike Pence, the president of the Senate, certified 306 electoral votes for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and 232 for Donald Trump and himself shortly before 4 a.m. ET the following morning.
Days after the riots were quelled, on Jan. 10, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) announced on Twitter that she would be introducing articles of impeachment against Trump for the second time the following day for “One, Abuse of power for attempting to overturn the election results in Georgia, (and) second, Incitement of violence for orchestrating an attempted coup against our country.” All House Democrats, along with 10 Republicans, formally voted to impeach Trump on Wednesday.
There has also been continuous pressure from Democrats and some Republicans in the House and Senate for Pence to invoke the 25th amendment of the Constitution, which would immediately remove Trump from office, if Trump was deemed not capable of serving his presidential duties, and place Pence in power for the remaining days of his term.
Pence openly turned against Trump on Jan. 6, condemning the riots on social media and accepting the election results in spite of pressure from the president. However, Pence has reportedly said he would not be invoking the 25th Amendment, recently writing a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) directly saying so.
Acts of treason are not new in United States history. When President James Buchanan let pro-slavery southern states secede from the Union during his lame duck period in 1860, he incited a Civil War for anti-slavery President Abraham Lincoln to deal with once he took office.
But Buchanan’s actions were merely based upon economic discord. Slavery, the most accessible and most profitable source of income for white men in the south, contradicted worldwide economic ideals in the midst of an industrial revolution.
What President Trump has done is much more broad. Unable to process the fact that he lost the election, Trump has taken what would have been a free and fair transitional process and fabricated false claims to bring our country to the brink of another Civil War. President Buchanan’s flawed attempts to benefit two separate economies in a capitalist nation are nowhere near President Trump’s deliberate and violent attempts to completely overthrow United States democracy.
Though President Buchanan faced heavy scrutiny from members of Congress, he was able to retire to his home when his term ended. But President Trump, who has already been permanently banned from Twitter, suspended from Instagram and its parent company Facebook at least until the end of his term, and suspended from uploading clips to his YouTube channel, faces a questionable future.
For the entirety of his term, Trump has unconventionally relied on these private social media companies, rather than his press office, to engage with the American people.
Consequently, the outcome of the second impeachment trials leave chances of a 2024 campaign slim. Trump has been censored so heavily by social media that only alt-right news stations like NewsMax and One America News (OAN) will continue to broadcast him unconditionally.
Given a 6-3 conservative majority in the Supreme Court, however, and burdensome resistance from Senate Republican to overturn Biden’s win, it is unlikely Trump will end up in federal prison for his actions.
Though many prominent Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), reportedly stand by the House’s decision to impeach, their decisions on whether Trump should be convicted or acquitted is still in question.
The Senate remains majority Republican until Jan. 20, when Georgia’s Democratic Senator-Elects Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock create a 50-50 tie. Vice President-Elect Harris can cast a tie-breaking vote. Harris’ vote could also make Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) the new Senate Majority Leader.
While some Senate Republicans, including McConnell, a longtime Trump ally, have turned against Trump for his actions, most are against invoking the 25th Amendment or convicting him in the impeachment trials.
The Senate is not set to reconvene until Inauguration Day, leaving many former Trump allies worried about a peaceful transition of power if impeachment trials were to begin. The sentiment among Democrats, however, is immediate conviction.
Donald Trump incited the terrorist attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. Evidently, the most plausible way Trump winds up in prison is if he gets convicted by the New York District Attorney once he becomes a civilian for bank/tax/insurance fraud, but no one truly knows what will happen to a man with such a symbiotic base – both him and his supporters feed off of each others baseless fabrications and conspiracy theories.
What became, as President Franklin Roosevelt once said, a day which will live in infamy, was hyped up a great deal on social media. But whenever I encountered a brainwashed Trump supporter on my TikTok “For You” page shouting “wait till January 6th,” I thought nothing of it, assuming they were referring to the date when Mike Pence certified Joe Biden’s victory in a joint session of Congress. I did not even put into consideration what actually happened that day.
As we drove home after visiting my mom’s childhood Hyde Park neighborhood, the radio was turned up to the max as we listened in silence, the disbelief and worry for the state of our democracy enveloping us all.
As people who may not even be allowed to vote, us children and teens must deal with the ramifications of the Capitol riots while feeling powerless to stop anything from happening. Us high schoolers can draw no comparisons to what happened on January 6th, nor can we draw any conclusions as to what might happen next. All we can do is hope.