A new Washington Post investigation examines the causes, cost and aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Letter from Washington Post Executive Editor Sally Buzbee about The Post’s Jan. 6 investigation


The insurrection that took place on Jan. 6 at the United States Capitol was one of the most consequential moments in American history. The events of that day led to an expansive federal investigation that has already resulted in 650 arrests and triggered an ongoing congressional inquiry.

Yet nearly 10 months after the attack, key questions remain: What did law enforcement officials know in advance? How did President Donald Trump respond to the deadly clash that day? What has been the fallout for Americans’ faith in their elections?

Throughout much of this year, a team of 75 Washington Post journalists has been working to produce a definitive account of Jan. 6 — its causes, its costs and its aftermath. The result of that investigation, a three-part series being published today, makes clear that the violence that day was neither a spontaneous act nor an isolated event.

“The Attack: Before, During and After” lays out in striking detail the red flags that went unheeded in advance of Jan. 6, the consequences of Trump’s inaction as his supporters laid siege to the Capitol and the continuing threats to American democracy. It provides intimate accounts of why rioters joined the siege, the unsettling threats faced by local election officials around the country, and the pain and trauma that Capitol Police officers still suffer.

The Post began this project in late spring, after efforts in Congress to create a bipartisan panel to examine the Jan. 6 attack collapsed. We launched more than 25 reporters from across the newsroom to examine different aspects of what led to the Capitol siege and its implications. Our photo, video, audio and design teams spent months mapping out a gripping presentation for the project.

The series’s findings are based on interviews with more than 230 people and thousands of pages of court documents and internal law enforcement reports, along with hundreds of videos, photographs and audio recordings.

The Post is proud to publish this revelatory project examining the Capitol attack and what it means for the future of our nation.


Sally Buzbee