There are just too many pieces to the dystopian puzzle that has transformed Washington D.C., into a war zone to count. But one thing is clear: the keystone piece, the person most responsible for the chaos of January 6th and the last four years is Donald Trump. Almost by definition, Trump is the inspiration and driving force behind one of the darkest days of government in recent times.
Trump, the only president to be impeached twice, more than anyone else, excited and, very likely, incited the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. His four-year battle against American institutions, including a free press and, later, his weeks long, non-stop tirade that ‘the election was stolen…a sham…rigged’ and that he, and not Joe Biden had won, nursed the appetite for violence that fed the insurrectionists. (Note: More than fifty courts have ruled there was no election fraud.) That much, Democrats and a growing number of Republicans agree on.
“Well, he asked all the people to come to Washington for the rally,” Arkansas Governor and former Republican Congressman Asa Hutchinson explained in a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace. “And then he used very aggressive language in the rally itself and he misled people -- and his followers -- as to what happened during the election, that it was stolen and that our checks and balances are not working.”
The result of Trump’s unending dog whistles and campaign of division, which nurtured anarchists, skinheads, and white supremacists, and his desire to achieve one-man rule has turned Washington, America’s citadel of democracy, into an armed camp. There are today more troops in the city than there were following the 9/11 attacks, and more than the combined forces currently stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
An estimated 20,000 troops, including 200 Colorado National Guard members, now occupy the city. There may also be several thousand still to be deployed. All are there to prevent a disruption of the Biden-Harris inauguration and repeat of January 6th.
In addition, airlines have banned weapons, concealed, or checked, along with liquor, on flights into Washington. The military is also strictly enforcing its no-flight restrictions over the city.
But despite the preemptory stationing of troops to ensure an orderly Presidential Inauguration there will still be thousands of Trump faithful nearby, many of whom are the same insurrectionists who actually stormed the Capitol.
The insurrection, whose origins are under investigation to determine if it was planned or conducted with inside help from one or more members of Congress, staffers, or Capitol Hill police, left the building in a state never before seen or even imagined. But as it unfolded, from the tearing down of security fences to the breaking of doors and windows, the world watched.
It would be another day or two before members of Congress, whose work of certifying the election was disrupted, would see the damage inflicted by the mob. “I was in my office when there was a surge in the crowd,” said Ed Perlmutter, who represents Colorado’s 7th Congressional District. Perlmutter watched on television as the mob’s anger grew and boiled over.
“Whoa,” he thought. “What’s going on here…people going up stairs and pushing their way into the Capitol…what is happening?’” Later, viewing the damage first-hand, Perlmutter called it heartbreaking. “Broken windows…some of the destruction, some of the things I saw…I’m stunned.”
Video of the insurrection shot by a journalist from The New Yorker showed it was even worse, perhaps, even choreographed. Insurgents roamed freely, pounding on doors, searching offices and desks in both chambers. It was like a horror movie with invaders seemingly wanting to arrest Nancy Pelosi and even Vice President Mike Pence. It was no daytrip to Washington. It may have even been a preparatory reconnaissance mission.
Over his term, Trump has rarely criticized his most ardent supporters. Fantasy-based Qanon? “Don’t know much about them…but they like me,” he once said. Charlottesville’s Nazis and skinheads? “Very fine people.” January’s insurrectionists? A simple, “We love you.”
Since the election, he urged supporters to come to the capitol, that it would be ‘wild,’ not even imagining just how wild it would get. And he wasn’t alone. Washington was also caught off guard. A full scale investigation into the overall security failure is underway. What is clear, though, is Trump was the inspiration.
“We’re going to walk down---and I’ll be there with you,” Trump told the rally crowd as it grew more frenzied. From behind bullet-proof glass, he reminded them of the stakes. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength.”
Two senators in particular, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Missouri’s Josh Hawley have become targets of suspicion and derision for endorsing Trump’s election fantasy. Also, Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks. “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” he exhorted them. Other members of Congress may also face investigation.
Federal investigators have already located and arrested at least eighty insurrectionists, including two easily identifiable; one dressed in a cartoonish outfit replete with horned animal head and another who posed with his boots on Speaker Pelosi’s office desk. Both are charged with a variety of federal crimes.
Local and state officials are concerned that Trump’s call to action may spread beyond Washington. State capitols, including Colorado’s, have been fortified with extra security, both materiel and personnel. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has ordered city buildings to operate with minimal staff and reduced hours. Some offices may be closed altogether. He urged those who may have business in city offices to call ahead.
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann joined fellow DA’s from around the country in condemning the insurrection. ”We are committed to preserving First Amendment rights,” the nationwide group said. “But as law enforcement leaders, we know that those rights do not include fomenting violence, interfering with fair elections, or rioting and looting in the halls of the heart of government.”