Storming of the US Capitol: What we know now about January 6th

Trump allies worked to keep him in power but it is unclear if riots were part of strategy

Little by little it has become clear that individuals close to Donald Trump were working on plans aimed at facilitating the then president holding on to power after he lost the November 2020 election to Joe Biden.

It remains unclear as to whether the storming of the Capitol building in Washington by Trump supporters a year ago on Thursday in a bid to stop Congress from affirming Biden's victory formed part of this strategy, or actually hindered political manoeuvres under way elsewhere by Republicans.

American presidents are not elected on the basis of who wins the most votes across the country, but rather through an electoral college system based on results in each of the states.

Democrat Joe Biden won both the popular vote and the majority of electoral college votes in the election. However, from the night of the election Trump raised the issue of irregularities and voter fraud.


Navarro said the plan started 'flawlessly' on January 6th when Republican politicians questioned the results from Arizona. However, he said the process was then overtaken by the violence in the Capitol

No evidence of any widespread election irregularities was ever presented and courts rejected challenge after challenge.

The focus of Trump and his supporters turned to January 6th – historically a day of political ritual where the votes of the state delegations are certified at a joint session of Congress.

Just before Christmas Trump tweeted an invitation to his supporters to come to Washington on that day. “Be there, will be wild!”

Over recent months more details of what happened on January 6th and the days preceding it have emerged, some as a result of good journalism, others from details released by a congressional committee investigating the issue, and more from books and interviews involving key figures close to the Trump White House.

The Green Bay Sweep

While the Capitol riots received the bulk of the world's attention, just across from the White House at the Willard Hotel a group of top Trump advocates had been working on a legal and political strategy aimed at ensuring that he remained in power.

Those who attended meetings at the Willard included Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former White House strategist Steve Bannon and conservative lawyer John Eastman, who developed a theory that vice-president Mike Pence could take actions that would essentially deny Biden the presidency.

A book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of the Washington Post last autumn revealed details of a memo drawn up by Eastman which outlined scenarios under which Trump could secure a second term.

In a new book and in an interview with Rolling Stone, former Trump economics adviser Peter Navarro set out further details of the plan.

The “Green Bay Sweep” (named after an American football play) involved getting Congress to debate the electoral results of six swing states which had been won by Biden.

Following a TV spectacle the results in these states would be declared in dispute. The issue would be sent back to the states in question, which would, under the theory, withdraw their original certification of the results in their area based on the allegations of irregularities.

Ultimately it would then fall to the House of Representatives to decide the winner on the basis of one vote per state congressional delegation. Navarro argued that as the Republicans controlled the majority of state delegates – not the majority in the House overall – it was likely that Trump would be elected.

Navarro said the plan started "flawlessly" on January 6th when Republican politicians questioned the results from Arizona. However, he said the process was then overtaken by the violence in the Capitol.

What did Trump do during the Capitol riot?

On January 6th, Trump addressed his supporters close to the White House and then urged them to march to the Capitol, where the vote certification process was taking place.

Last weekend the top Republican on the congressional January 6th committee, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, said it had "first-hand testimony now that [Trump] was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching the attack on television".

“We have first-hand testimony that his daughter Ivanka went in at least twice to ask him to please stop this violence.”

The chairman of the committee, Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said last Sunday: "We have significant testimony that leads us to believe that the White House had been told to do something."

Fox News texts to the White House

Documents released by the January 6th committee appear to show some prominent figures on the conservative Fox News network providing advice to senior White House officials about the events of the day.

The committee has asked Sean Hannity to respond to questions about his communications with Trump and his staff in the days surrounding the riot.

Text messages from Hannity appear to suggest that he was aware of and worried about what might happen on January 6th, and that the plan to lean on Pence about his role in the certification of the votes could lead to the mass resignation of senior White House lawyers.

"We can't lose the entire WH counsels office," Hannity wrote to Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, on December 31st, 2020.

In another text in January, Hannity wrote:“I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told … He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to [Florida] and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen.”

Hannity wrote on January 10th to Meadows and Republican congressman and key Trump ally Jim Jordan: "He can't mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him [Trump] today. And worse, I'm not sure what is left to do or say, and I don't like not knowing if it's truly understood. Ideas?"

Other messages sent to Meadows as the violence unfolded, by Hannity and Fox News presenters Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade, have also been released by committee members.