America is still trying to process what happened during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. As the nation looks back on the riot a year later, lawmakers are answering how the event has affected the nation’s outlook on democracy.
When supporters of President Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, @AP had nine photographers on the scene.
They shot hundreds of photos that were transmitted within minutes, giving the world front-row seats to the unfolding chaos.
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 6, 2022
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris delivered remarks Thursday morning, examining the reasons behind the insurrection and its ongoing effects.
"On Jan. 6, we all saw what our nation would look like if the forces who seek to dismantle our democracy are successful — the lawlessness, the violence, the chaos," Harris said in her speech, per CNN.
"What the extremists who roamed these halls targeted was not only the lives of elected leaders. What they sought to degrade and destroy was not only a building, hallowed as it is. What they were assaulting were the institutions, the values, the ideals, that generations of Americans have marched, picketed and shed blood to establish and defend," she continued.
Both leaders discussed the current state of democracy, describing it as “fragile” and in dire need of protection as other countries like China and Russia look to America to watch its potential downfall.
1. Biden, during his speech, placed blame for the events on “the former president”
Biden made several comments aimed at his predecessor Donald Trump during his speech, though he didn't mention him by name. He also called on Americans to save democracy by looking to protect and ensure voting rights for all.
Despite what the former president says, there is simply zero proof that the 2020 election results were inaccurate. pic.twitter.com/TVpFxawr4M
— President Biden (@POTUS) January 6, 2022
"For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol. But they failed. They failed. And on this day of remembrance, we must make sure that such attack never, never happens again,” Biden said in his address, adding that the truth of Jan. 6, 2021, must not be hidden.
"Don't kid yourself. The pain and scars from that day run deep," the president said. "We are in a battle for the soul of America. A battle that by the grace of God, the goodness and gracious greatness of this nation we will win.”
Trump responded to Biden's speech with a statement, according to Fox News.
"This political theater is all just a distraction for the fact Biden has completely and totally failed," the statement read. "Our Country no longer has Borders, has totally and completely lost control of Covid (record numbers!), is no longer Energy Independent, Inflation is rampant, our Military is in chaos, and our exit, or surrender, from Afghanistan was perhaps the most embarrassing day in the long and distinguished history of the United States—and so much more."
2. Trump was acquitted of inciting the Jan. 6 riot
While the former president was impeached during his presidency, it was during his second impeachment hearings that he also faced an additional charge of inciting an insurrection.
As reported by Al Jazeera, the Senate fell just short of the two-thirds vote required in order to convict him.
3. Over 725 people have been arrested for the insurrection
According to Time magazine, more than 725 people were arrested for their involvement in the riot, with charges ranging from obstruction of an official proceeding to assault.
Of the more than 725 people, only 71 have received criminal sentences so far, with less than half receiving time behind bars as part of their punishment. The average prison sentence so far is 45 days.
A smaller percentage has been given home detention, while the majority of people arrested were given punishments of fines, community service and probation for misdemeanor crimes like illegally demonstrating in the Capitol.
The cases that involved more severe charges, like assaulting an officer, received heftier sentences. Robert Palmer, one of the more prominent cases, received 63 months in prison for throwing wooden boards and a fire extinguisher at law enforcement guarding the Capitol. Devlyn Thompson, who assaulted an officer with a metal baton, was sentenced to 46 months in prison.
4. Senate select committee has requested information from multiple sources
As the select committee moves forward with its investigation into the Jan. 6 riot, Chairman Bennie G. Thompson and Vice Chairman Liz Cheney have requested information from various people who are thought to have had some communication with those involved.
Most recently, the committee has asked Sean Hannity for information, along with others like Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. Scott Perry. In addition, the committee has also subpoenaed James P. “Phil” Waldron due to his alleged involvement in promoting fraud claims in regard to the 2020 election.