“Jan. 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House select committee examining the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, said Thursday in his opening remarks at the panel’s first prime-time hearing. “The violence was no accident.”
“As we provide answers to American people about January 6th, it’s important we remember exactly what took place. That this was no tourist visit to the Capitol,” Thompson said.
Security camera footage
Footage recorded by security cameras outside the U.S. Capitol presented a never-before-seen bird’s-eye view of the riot — from the time the mob first gathered near the Peace Monument to the moment it pushed past police lines and entered the building.
A camera positioned on the northwest roof captured the first breach of the Capitol complex. According to the committee, at 12:54 p.m., rioters pushed pastbarricades and officers. A second camera, on the west side of the dome, showed rioters flood the plaza over the next minute, as police were pushed back onto the inaugural platform.
“We just had protesters at Peace Circle breach the line,” a previously unheard audio communication from U.S. Capitol Police played over the video. “We need backup.”
“We are going to give riot warnings,” D.C. police Cmdr. Robert Glover, who goes by the call sign Cruiser 50, shouted into his radio. “We are going to try and get compliance, but this is now effectively a riot.” He made the call around 1:37 p.m., according to the committee. Over the course of more than an hour and a half, from the time he arrived on the scene, Glover would request backup at least 17 times, according to a previous Washington Post analysis of events, as the mob on the west side of the complex grew to at least 9,400 people, outnumbering officers by more than 58 to 1.
Security footage recorded from the east side of the dome showed a similar scene at 1:59 p.m., according to the committee. Video shows rioters pushing past metal police barricades and streaming toward the building’s entrance. The American flag, as well as flags reading “Don’t tread on me” and “MAGA,” wave in the wind above the mob.
The committee also played clips of security footage from inside the Capitol, including the evacuation of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office and the moment that rioters breached a window and entered the building.
Similar internal security footage, showing the proximity between rioters and lawmakers, was played during the second impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump. The Post’s previous video investigation first revealed the 41 minutes between when rioters entered the Capitol and the evacuation of lawmakers to safety.
The committee presented body-camera footage illustrating the intensely physical confrontations between rioters and officers over the course of the day. Some of this footage was previously made public in court filings, but it was not immediately clear which videos were being shown for the first time.
In one video, recorded deep inside the scaffolding that held risers on the west side of the Capitol at 2:27 p.m., a D.C. officer said, “We can’t hold this. We’re going to get too many f---ing people.” The officer, identifiable as part of the D.C. force by his yellow vest, pointed down at the police line and shouted over the roar of the crowd, “Look at this f---ing vantage point. We’re f---ed.”
Body-camera footage recorded a minute later shows rioters pushing against police. One shoved an officer with such force that another officer had to carry his colleague away from the mob. A rioter then attempted to take the officer’s night stick out of his grasp, dragging him in circles for several seconds as police were overrun. The line of defense fell at 2:28 p.m., according to The Post’s previous reporting and the bird’s-eye footage shown by the committee.
A filmmaker’s perspective
Nick Quested, a British documentary maker, was in Washington filming a right-wing extremist group, the Proud Boys, for a project on American polarization and had unique access to members of the group on the eve of Jan. 6 and throughout that day. He provided the committee with footage he and his crew recorded. ABC News first published some of Quested’s footage on Thursday before the hearing.
“I am not allowed to say what is going to happen today,” a woman standing in front of the Washington Monument tells the filmmakers. “Because everyone is just going to have to watch for themselves. But it’s going to happen. Something is going to happen.”
Quested and his crew followed the Proud Boys from the Washington monument, east toward the Peace Monument, across the first metal barricades, onto the inaugural platform and finally inside the Capitol. He recorded the crowd winding up a staircase, chanting “Nancy! Nancy! Nancy!” The next shot is of the rioters flooding the halls outside of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.
“I documented the crowd turn from protesters to rioters to insurrectionists,” Quested testified on Thursday. “I was surprised at the size of the group, the anger and the profanity.”
Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards recounted her experience and the injuries she and her colleagues sustained that day. In the last 15 minutes of the hearing, Thompson asked Edwards to share one memory from that day. “What I saw was just a war scene. It was something like I had seen out of the movies. I couldn’t believe my eyes,” she said.
The Jan. 6 insurrection
The report: The Jan. 6 committee released its final report, marking the culmination of an 18-month investigation into the violent insurrection. Read The Post’s analysis about the committee’s new findings and conclusions.
The final hearing: The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol held its final public meeting where members referred four criminal charges against former president Donald Trump and others to the Justice Department. Here’s what the criminal referrals mean.
The riot: On Jan. 6, 2021, a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. Five people died on that day or in the immediate aftermath, and 140 police officers were assaulted.
Inside the siege: During the rampage, rioters came perilously close to penetrating the inner sanctums of the building while lawmakers were still there, including former vice president Mike Pence. The Washington Post examined text messages, photos and videos to create a video timeline of what happened on Jan. 6. Here’s what we know about what Trump did on Jan. 6.