On January 6, Congress held a joint session overseen by Vice President Mike Pence to nationally certify the victory of President-elect Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.
As the session was underway, outgoing President Donald Trump addressed a crowd of his supporters, where he repeated the lie that Democrats orchestrated widespread election fraud to deliver a false victory to Biden.
Trump continued his months-long calls for his supporters to "fight" for them, warning they wouldn't "have a country anymore" if the free and fair election results were certified. He then urged his supporters to "peacefully and patriotically" march to the Capitol and make their grievances known.
When it became clear that Pence wouldn't acquiesce to Trump's demands for him to throw out electoral votes in swing states Trump lost, the pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol in an unprecedented attack. Pence and other lawmakers were forced to evacuate as the rioters smashed windows, ransacked offices, smeared excrement across the walls, and paraded around the Senate floor.
Jacob Chansley—a former actor known as the QAnon Shaman (a nod to the QAnon conspiracy web)—went viral for sitting in the Senate President's chair on the dais, where Pence had been sitting only minutes before.
Photo of Senate right now. 'Where's Pence, show yourself!' protester shouts https://t.co/xGVKMnsf3T— Steven Nelson (@Steven Nelson)1609963294.0
Chansley has since been arrested and recently made his first court appearance.
Chansley's lawyer, Albert Watkins, said his client was under delusions propped up by the President, saying:
"My client had heard the oft-repeated words of President Trump. The words and invitation of a president are supposed to mean something."
He went on to urge Trump to pardon Chansley and others who stormed the Capitol:
"Given the peaceful and compliant fashion in which Mr. Chansley comported himself, it would be appropriate and honorable for the president to pardon Mr. Chansley and other like-minded, peaceful individuals who accepted the president's invitation with honorable intentions."
The argument further contradicted claims made by pro-Trump Republicans that the President wasn't responsible for inciting the violence and that his supporters were acting on their own. In addition to Chansley's claim that he was invited by the President, more video has surfaced of other rioters insisting to Capitol police that they were "invited by the President of the United States."
With Trump's impeachment trial heading to the Senate in just a few days, these developments are unlikely to help his case.
[sound of impeachment managers furiously taking notes] https://t.co/lCwWpgF9kA— Gerry Doyle (@Gerry Doyle)1610672346.0
Jacob Chansley is QAnon Viking helmet guy. Couple observations: 1.) Why is everybody involved named "Watkins" and… https://t.co/SRtVEnb8MJ— Brooke Binkowski (@Brooke Binkowski)1610671463.0
Trump’s attempts to prove that there was no connection between what he said and what they did is going to be consta… https://t.co/WVzLCbFW5S— Amanda Weaver (@Amanda Weaver)1610680853.0
and thusly ensuring he gets quoted in the Senate during the impeachment trial. https://t.co/F3IW7DQohO— kaijabat (@kaijabat)1610673689.0
Please jot all this down, whoever is in charge of presenting at the impeachment trial... https://t.co/fxjIr8zVF4— Brad Reed (@Brad Reed)1610671567.0
Nice bit of evidence for Trump’s trial. https://t.co/ogwAKKGwa9— Brian Rosenwald (@Brian Rosenwald)1610671003.0
With arrests still ongoing in the wake of the attack, people expect more of Trump's supporters who stormed the Capitol to claim the President made them do it.
There’s going to be a lot more of this “The President made me do it” coming from those charged with sacking the Cap… https://t.co/B3j7csdlP6— Sarah Longwell (@Sarah Longwell)1610673185.0
I was just wondering how many will use the 'trump made me do it' defense! Here we go! https://t.co/GBYu1U44Rh— Theresa Cleary (@Theresa Cleary)1610673400.0
According to FBI Director Christopher Wray, more than 100 people have been arrested so far for last week's attack.