The United States on Thursday will mark the one-year anniversary of Jan. 6, 2021, when a violent mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election — an attack that left multiple people dead, scores of police officers injured and a democracy shaken to its core.
The same Capitol building will be the backdrop for a series of solemn events commemorating the deadly insurrection. In the morning, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver remarks from the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. At noon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will make a statement and hold a moment of silence on the floor of the House chamber. Members of Congress, who were forced to evacuate the Capitol that day, will give testimonials in the afternoon. In the early evening, lawmakers will gather outside on the steps of the Capitol for a bicameral prayer vigil.
“These events are intended as an observance of reflection, remembrance and recommitment, in a spirit of unity, patriotism and prayerfulness,” Pelosi said in a statement released by her office.
Yet they come at a time when Americans are deeply divided — over politics, the pandemic and, well, just about everything.
According to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll released this week, three-quarters of Trump voters (75 percent) falsely believe the 2020 election was “rigged and stolen” from him. (Just 9 percent think Biden “won fair and square” — down from 13 percent in January 2021.)
But perhaps more troubling is what Biden and Trump voters do agree on: According to the poll, 88 percent of the former and 89 percent of the latter say they are “worried about the future of U.S. democracy.” And a full 6 in 10 (60 percent) of the 1,537 U.S. adults Yahoo and YouGov polled believe an attack like the one that happened a year ago could happen again.
That fear is driven mostly by the false accusations of fraud being peddled by Trump. According to the survey, 75 percent of Trump voters believe his fabrication that there was enough fraud “to influence the outcome” of the 2020 election.
The former president had planned to mark the anniversary with a press conference at Mar-a-Lago, where he was expected to assail the bipartisan select committee that Pelosi formed to investigate the siege. But Trump canceled the event, saying he would discuss topics related to the probe at a rally in Arizona later this month.
Five people died in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, including Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by police as she tried to break into the House chamber, and a Capitol Police officer who died from a stroke one day after being pepper-sprayed during the riot. More than 140 other police officers were injured defending the Capitol; four have since taken their own lives.
According to the FBI, more than 725 people have been criminally charged in connection with the riot, which occurred after a rally during which Trump repeated false election fraud claims and told supporters they needed to “fight like hell.”
The rioters got within two doors of Vice President Mike Pence's office. See how in this 3D explainer from Yahoo Immersive.
In recent interviews, Trump has taken his Sharpie to that reality, calling his rally speech “calming,” the attack on the Capitol a “protest” and Biden’s election as the real “insurrection.”
“It was a protest,” Trump told Fox News host Laura Ingraham last month. “The insurrection took place on Nov. 3, which was Election Day. This was a protest, and a lot of innocent people are being hurt. A lot of innocent people are being injured.”
The former president’s repeated attempts to whitewash one of the darkest days in American history appear to be working, at least among his faithful. According to the Yahoo News/YouGov poll, more than twice as many Trump voters now say the events of Jan. 6 were justified (23 percent) as said the same immediately after the siege itself (11 percent).
Trump also told Ingraham he has “nothing to hide” from the Jan. 6 committee, even as his lawyers have appealed to the Supreme Court in an attempt to block the panel from obtaining a vast swath of White House documents relating to its investigation. (Federal judges have rejected Trump’s claims of executive privilege.)
The select committee has issued more than 100 subpoenas to people, businesses or entities, including for the phone records of former Trump officials and his associates. It has heard from nearly 300 witnesses and obtained over 30,000 pages of records to date.
This week, the committee said it would like to speak with former Vice President Mike Pence — who resisted Trump’s public pressure to upend Congress’s certification of the election — and Fox News host Sean Hannity, one of Trump’s closest media allies, about his communications with the former president and ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
And it is planning a series of public hearings — some potentially during primetime — to determine whether the Jan. 6 attack was planned.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the committee, would not say whether the panel has uncovered evidence that the president and his allies were involved in planning the insurrection.
“Let me say that what we have been able to ascertain is that we came perilously close to losing our democracy,” he said.