US Capitol attack 4 months later — what’s changed?

It has now been about four months since a marauding mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, leaving several people dead and more than 100 law enforcement officers injured, and leading to one of the largest criminal investigations ever undertaken by the Justice Department.

More than 400 people now face a wide range of charges, and congressional hearings will soon resume to try to find out more about what went wrong and what security improvements can be made so that a similar attack never happens again.

President Joe Biden, during his recent joint address to Congress, called it “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”

But while a great deal has transpired in the past 120 days, many Republican lawmakers are ready to move on. It’s not that they don’t condemn the rioting at the Capitol, but their tone has changed.
That’s been made clear by the decision of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise to open the way for a GOP conference vote next week to oust Rep. Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, from her post as the No. 3 GOP leader.

Cheney has frustrated many House Republicans for months by refusing to back off of criticism of former President Donald Trump and his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him — claims which instigated the Jan. 6 attack on Congress as it was counting the Electoral College votes that made Biden’s election victory official. She was also one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, which led the Wyoming GOP to censure her.

McCarthy, who initially said Trump “bears responsibility” for what happened on Jan. 6, then backed off of that comment, has decided it is not in his party’s political interest to move on from the man in Mar-a-Lago.

As a result, the most powerful Republican woman in the House is about to lose her leadership post. She’ll likely be replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, who has been a vocal supporter and defender of Trump.

The former president endorsed her Wednesday, in a statement from his PAC.

Will there be a 9/11-type commission?

There was a lot of bipartisan talk about establishing such a commission in the wake of the attack on the Capitol. But it’s looking less and less likely that will occur.

Discussions related to such a panel have continually stalled in the months since Jan. 6.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially proposed a commission that would include more Democrats than Republicans. That didn’t fly with the GOP, and she backed off.

But while she has said she remains hopeful a bipartisan panel can still be agreed to, there’s been little progress.

Democrats want the commission to take a deeper dive into what specifically led to the attack on the Capitol. But Republicans, wary that Democrats will try to cast more blame on former President Trump, have argued that the scope of the panel should be much broader, suggesting that a commission also look into the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred last summer.

What’s happening with the arrests?

While more than 400 people now faces charges related to the attack, prosecutors are still struggling with a key issue: how to prove whether there was a clear plan to invade the Capitol.

The most serious charges have been filed against more than three dozen members of two far-right groups — the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Prosecutors in court filings have suggested the two groups loosely worked together to provide guidance and planning related to the break-in of the Capitol.

Attorneys for members of the groups have denied there was a specific plan.

According to a running count by CBS News, at least 100 people face charges related to assaulting, resisting or impeding law enforcement officers.

While some people face charges involving attacks on Capitol Police officers, it does not appear anyone will be charged specifically with the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. An autopsy released last month by the D.C. medical examiner found that he died a day after the attack of a stroke, from natural causes.

A D.C. police officer and another Capitol Police officer died of suicide after the attack. A woman who was trampled to death died of acute amphetamine intoxication after being trampled. Two others died of natural causes.

Also, a woman was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer outside the House chamber.

At least 140 law enforcement officers were injured.

Jan. 6 revisionism

Despite the deaths, injuries and fierce fighting that took place for hours with police officers on Jan. 6, former President Trump and some GOP lawmakers have sought to downplay what actually happened.

Trump has told Fox News he believes the rioters posed “zero threat.” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-WI, has repeatedly questioned media accounts of what happened. He was criticized for saying he wasn’t worried about the predominantly white protesters, but might have been if it was a protest involving Black Lives Matters protesters.

During a House vote, a dozen Republicans voted against honoring Capitol Police officers who helped defend the Capitol during the riot. One of them, Rep. Louie Gohmert, of Texas, said he did not believe the word “insurrection” should be used to describe what happened.

Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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