On the afternoon of January 6, 2021, a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters descend on the U.S. Capitol, attempting to interfere with the certification of electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election.
The rioters assaulted the Capitol police force and ransacked the complex, destroying property and sending members of Congress and their staff into hiding in offices and bunkers. A protester who was shot by police died in the chaos and more than 100 members of law enforcement were injured.
At noon on January 6, at a rally on the Ellipse one mile from the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Trump claimed election fraud and called on Vice President Pence to overturn the 2020 election results by refusing to certify certain electoral votes. Trump told his assembled supporters, "We’re going to walk down to the Capitol" and “if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.”
Near the conclusion of his speech, several thousand attendees began marching towards the U.S. Capitol, where a crowd had assembled and was clashing with police. By 2 p.m., the rioters broke through the police barricades. The mob then entered the Capitol building, with some rioters smashing through windows and doors. Soon after, both the Senate and House of Representatives—which were in the middle of debating a Republican objection to Arizona’s electoral votes—adjourned. Vice President Pence and his family were immediately evacuated from the Senate chambers. Some members of Congress were escorted to an underground bunker while others barricaded themselves in offices or sheltered in place in the House chamber.
For several hours, rioters looted and ransacked congressional offices, including the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; invaded the Senate chamber; and posed for pictures.
At around 2 p.m., Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller called up 1,100 members of the D.C. National Guard, according to a statement from the National Guard. Guard members eventually secured the perimeter, allowing law enforcement and FBI to clear the chambers and offices of the U.S. Capitol. Around 4 p.m., President Trump, who was in the White House, posted a video message on social media in which he repeated his false claims of election fraud, but told his supporters to "go home in peace."
By 8 p.m., the Capitol complex was declared free of rioters, and Vice President Pence called the Senate back into session. At 9 p.m., Speaker Pelosi did the same in the House. Congress voted to confirm Joe Biden's electoral college win at 3:24 a.m. the following morning.
One week later, on January 13, President Trump was impeached for incitement of insurrection. Unlike his first impeachment, 10 House Republicans joined Democrats in voting in favor of impeachment. Trump was found not guilty in the Senate trial, though seven Republican senators joined Democrats in voting to convict.
In July of 2021, Speaker Pelosi formed a bipartisan House select committee, modeled after the commission formed in the wake of the September 11 attacks, to investigate the January 6 riot. On December 19, 2022, the committee investigating the attack voted to refer former President Trump and others to the Justice Department for potential criminal charges, including inciting or aiding an insurrection.
By December 2022, at least 964 people had been arrested and charged with crimes, making it the U.S. Justice Department's largest criminal investigation in history.