By the time Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th U.S. president Wednesday, his scandal-tainted predecessor Donald Trump will already be far away, having helicoptered out of the White House a last time earlier that morning, an official said on Jan. 15.
For four years, Donald Trump downplayed the risk of white-supremacist violence and denied that racial bias is pervasive in law enforcement. In a single, searing day, the assault on the U.S. Capitol exposed the price of both of those choices—and may have provided Joe Biden new political momentum for reversing direction on each front.
At once, the rioters demonstrated how much the threat of white extremism has metastasized under Trump, while the restrained police response vivified a racial double standard in policing. The attack could strengthen the case for systemic police reform, both through congressional action and a revival of Justice Department oversight of local police practices that the Trump administration essentially shelved. Representative Karen Bass of California, the lead sponsor of a police-reform bill that passed the House last summer, told me she believes that the lower chamber will approve a new version “within the first quarter” of 2021. “This was yet another example in the disparity of treatment between African Americans and others,” Derrick Johnson, the president and CEO of the NAACP, told me. “This is yet another example of how police agencies viewed citizens differently.”
The attack could also make it tougher for congressional Republicans to resist the Biden administration’s expected efforts to dramatically increase enforcement against white supremacists through the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. “This isn’t just a Trump thing that goes away when Trump goes away,” Elizabeth Neumann, the former DHS assistant secretary for threat prevention under Trump, told me. “And this isn’t just a bunch of really crazy Trump people. This is something darker and deeper that has been around a very long time. We have aroused the sleeping giant … and we’re now going to be dealing both with [Trump’s] radicalized supporters and this white-power movement on steroids for the foreseeable future.”
Biden signaled his intent to invert Trump’s law-enforcement priorities when he unveiled his top Justice Department nominees at a press conference the day after the Capitol assault. When Biden introduced Merrick Garland, his attorney-general nominee, the president-elect pointedly noted that the Justice Department was formed to enforce the post–Civil War constitutional amendments ending slavery and promising equal rights under the law. The department’s founding mission, Biden said, was “to stand up to the Klan, to stand up to racism, to take on domestic terrorism. This original spirit must again guide and animate its work.” When identifying their priorities, Garland and Biden’s other top DOJ nominees pointed to the same two issues: tackling the threat of violent domestic extremism and confronting systemic racial bias in law enforcement.
The nominees bring unusually relevant credentials to each side of that equation. Garland, a federal judge, helped lead the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, in the mid-1990s. Lisa Monaco, Biden’s nominee as deputy attorney general, served in Barack Obama’s administration as assistant attorney general for national security and his White House adviser on counterterrorism. The other two nominees Biden announced were selected from the heart of the civil-rights legal establishment: Associate-attorney-general nominee Vanita Gupta, another Obama alumna, is the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Kristen Clarke, the nominee for assistant attorney general for civil rights, is the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Yet on both the white-extremist and policing fronts, the magnitude of the Biden administration’s challenge is formidable. The white-nationalist threat has been on “an upward trajectory” over the past four years, Neumann told me. Although white-supremacist organizations have always existed, and their efforts accelerated after Obama’s election as the first black president, Trump acted as a “kind of an accelerant,” she said. “There was already a fire, and he was adding fuel to it. He was expanding the number of people who were participating in the extremism.”
Greg Ehrie, a former section chief of the FBI’s domestic-terrorism operations center and now the vice president for law enforcement at the Anti-Defamation League, told me that throughout Trump’s presidency the white-nationalist movement has also felt more comfortable stepping out into public. “It is certainly growing in identified numbers, people who are coming out openly and saying ‘I believe in it,’” he said. “You are seeing people become emboldened.” At the same time, extremist groups are solidifying their organization, with more clearly identified leaders and something more akin to a chain of command. “Their structure is actually codifying itself, which is a really scary development,” Ehrie added.
While experts I spoke with agree that Trump’s rhetoric has dangerously encouraged these groups, they disagree on federal law enforcement’s response. Ehrie said federal agencies have made “some inroads” in combatting them. But others told me that the catastrophic attack on the Capitol made clear that the government has not treated the threat with sufficient gravity—either because of Trump’s own downplaying of any problem or because of cultural and racial blind spots in their own ranks.
“From what I watched, they made changes, they adjusted, but they were a little too slow, in my book,” including DHS, said Neumann, who resigned last year and publicly supported Biden during the election. “I still wonder, based on what happened on January 6, if there is kind of an unconscious bias—an assumption that a bunch of white guys like to yell at each other on the internet and play dress-up with militia [gear] but there are only a handful of them that we actually have to worry about.”
Many African American leaders see nothing to wonder about. Rashad Robinson, the president of the civil-rights advocacy group Color of Change, argues that federal law enforcement puts much more emphasis on monitoring and pressuring racial-justice advocates than white nationalists. Under Trump, federal officials “have treated NFL players who kneel as national threats and white men who are talking about overthrowing the government with guns as patriots,” Robinson told me.
“I don’t think they’ve dealt with it at all,” said Bass, referring to the Trump administration’s approach to white nationalism. “I don’t think they consider it a problem, and that’s a part of our history.”
Despite the heroism of individual officers resisting the mob, the Capitol Police’s strikingly muted response—as well as the presence of law-enforcement personnel from around the country among the rioters—raises a larger, often unspoken issue: the presence of white-nationalist sympathizers in law enforcement. The force’s reaction “brings [up] a lot of questions” related to whether there were “people internal to the [Trump] administration, within the Capitol Police, and others who were in collusion” with the attackers, Johnson, the NAACP president, told me. Adds Bass: “I think when all is said and done, you will find that [among] members of the Capitol Police, my Republican colleagues, and their staff, there was involvement at different levels and participation in what happened.” (Although no specific evidence has emerged, House Democrats have said they are investigating the possibility of collusion.)
More broadly, the lax response, as well as the decision to allow the rioters to leave the Capitol unmolested, dramatized in an unusually visceral way a key complaint from Black communities: that law enforcement treats white people differently in any kind of encounter—in this case, even an armed and violent attack on a foundation of the American government. The stark contrast between how the rioters were treated and how Black Lives Matter protests were handled last summer “further cements for people of color [that] America, for all of its good, has a long way to go in achieving its promises of equality under the law,” Sakira Cook, the Justice Reform director at the Leadership Conference, told me.
The Capitol riot could spur a new effort to overhaul police departments, including through Bass’s police-reform legislation, which the House passed in June without a single dissenting Democratic vote after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (The Senate did not take the bill up for a vote.) Among other measures, that bill would have banned chokeholds and no-knock warrants at the federal level; established a national registry of police misconduct; and scaled back the “qualified immunity” legal defense for officers accused of wrongdoing. Under Gupta and Clarke, the Biden Justice Department is certain to revive its oversight of local police departments through “pattern or practice” investigations of systemic bias, which can result in judicial consent decrees.
More contentious is whether Congress needs to provide federal law enforcement with expanded legal authority to confront domestic terrorists. Neumann and some other terrorism experts say yes, while many civil-rights advocates fear that law enforcement could turn such authority against minority communities. “Addressing white supremacy does not require creating a new statute,” Becky Monroe, who heads the Leadership Conference’s hate and bias program, told me. “It requires the will and investment in existing statutes and existing authority to ensure that these insurrectionists are held accountable.”
Robinson said that truly defusing white nationalism’s rising threat will require more than prosecuting direct participants—or even pursuing sympathizers in law enforcement. Instead, the incoming administration and civil-rights advocates must look at the broader range of institutions that extremist groups rely on to grow, including social-media companies that spread their message and financial institutions that process their fundraising efforts. “Some of the biggest, most profitable institutions have also played a role in getting us here, because they have looked at so many of the people behind these groups and they have not seen them as a threat,” Robinson said. “They see people that look like them, that look like members of their families, and they don’t take the threat seriously because it’s not targeting them.”
Neumann pointed to another dimension. Because extremists are relying so heavily on Trump’s unfounded claims about the election to mobilize support, stunting them will be extremely difficult unless more Republican officials publicly refute him. “The biggest thing that could help the scope of the problem is for the bulk of Republicans to come out and say, ‘The election was not stolen, Donald Trump lied, I was complicit in that lie, and I apologize,’” she told me. An internal federal intelligence bulletin disclosed yesterday by The Washington Post also warned about more violence if the lie about the “stolen election” isn’t dispelled.
The responsibility for confronting this mounting threat now falls to Biden and his team. The president-elect has not appeared particularly enthusiastic about imposing consequences on Trump for his role in the Capitol attack through impeachment, and many legal experts believe that he will resist pursuing criminal charges against his predecessor. But throughout the campaign and the tumultuous transition period, Biden has focused on racial inequities more consistently and forcefully than even many civil-rights advocates expected.
By demonstrating both the danger of white nationalism and the bias in policing, last week’s assault has not only elevated those issues even further, but also exposed their common roots. “At its core, police brutality against people of color and white supremacy … in the way we have seen it displayed by Trump supporters are part and parcel of the same thing,” Cook told me. “What we want members of Congress to understand is that to address both of these problems, we must deal with the root causes of inequity and racial discrimination in this country.” Amid the wreckage of last week’s right-wing insurrection, and the ongoing threats of more violence looming over next week’s inauguration, that assignment looks only more urgent.
Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, a 12-term veteran of Congress, was holed up in her office when the mob arrived. Thousands of MAGA diehards had followed President Donald Trump’s call to march to the Capitol to protest the certification of the Electoral College vote. “It was like a declaration of war against the United States, issued by the president of the United States,” Schakowsky told me.
When she returned to Washington yesterday to impeach a president she holds personally responsible for the attack, she didn’t wear her members’ pin in public. The threat against lawmakers is ongoing—a reality driven home for Democrats like Schakowsky in a briefing they heard on Monday night, when leaders of the Capitol Police told them of a plot by insurrectionists to surround the Capitol, the White House, and the Supreme Court ahead of next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
So when congressional Democrats voted today to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection, they believed they were acting to remove “a clear and present danger” not only to American citizens and democracy at large, but to themselves specifically. And the fear that Democrats have following the assault on their Capitol extends beyond Trump to their own House colleagues. After impeaching Trump, Democrats are likely to pursue punishments against Republican members—including Representatives Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado—who either spoke at last week’s rally or applauded the rioters who stormed the Capitol. Brooks addressed the same rally as Trump and told the crowd, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” Boebert tweeted during the attack that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been removed from the House chamber, infuriating Democrats who saw the tweet as a signal to rioters of the speaker’s whereabouts.
“Absolutely they should be expelled,” Representative Mondaire Jones, a New York Democrat who took office just 10 days ago, told me. Representative Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey said last night that she saw Republican members, whom she did not name, leading “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol the day before the attack. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York detailed her terror to more than 100,000 of her Instagram followers, saying that she felt unsafe being in the same room with “white supremacist” members of Congress who she feared could disclose her location to rioters. “I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die,” Ocasio-Cortez said. Democrats were already angry at Republicans for refusing to wear masks while they hid together from the mob; three members in that room have since tested positive for COVID-19. And last night, Boebert and other GOP lawmakers clashed with the Capitol Police after Pelosi ordered metal detectors to be placed near entrances to the House chamber.
The drive to impeach and remove the president in the final days of his term gained momentum overnight, when five House Republicans declared their support for impeachment and multipleoutlets reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was open to voting to convict Trump. The chances that the evenly divided Senate will muster 67 votes to convict the president are higher than when House Democrats impeached Trump a little over a year ago. But even if Trump won’t leave office a minute before his term ends at noon on January 20, congressional Democrats—and at least a handful of Republicans—are bent on ensuring that he leaves in shame.
Several lawmakers told me they see the impeachment of Trump for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol as both a tool and a message. It’s a tool that the Senate can use to oust the president in the final days or even hours of his term if Trump acts again to stir up violence against Congress, pardons the rioters, or takes reckless military action. And failing that, they said, impeachment represents a message of accountability that Democrats are determined to send not only to Trump but also to the nation and the world: The president’s encouragement of the riot that left at least five people dead would not go unpunished.
“This was an attack on the Capitol,” Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a co-author of the single article of impeachment the House is considering, told me by phone yesterday. “The notion that we would simply say, ‘Oh, you know, this was an effort to overthrow the government, a coup and insurrection against the government, but he’s going to be gone in 12 days so we should just overlook it’ is completely unacceptable.”
In 2019, Democrats took weeks to draft and build support for the impeachment of Trump over his personal plea for Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden. Not a single Republican backed impeachment the first time, but 10 voted with Democrats today—making this the most bipartisan impeachment of a president in American history. The breakaway Republicans include the chair of the party’s House caucus, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who said Tuesday “there has never been a greater betrayal” by a president of his oath of office. The House last night approved a nonbinding resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to initiate the process of removing Trump through the Constitution’s Twenty-Fifth Amendment—a step that could be done immediately but would require support from a majority of the Cabinet—but Pence has ruled out such an effort.
Democrats have scoffed at suggestions by Republicans, and yesterday by Trump himself, that impeachment would further inflame divisions and undermine Biden’s pledge to “heal the soul of the nation.” Indeed, among the many unprecedented aspects of the current crisis is that lawmakers acted against a man who they believe unleashed not just an invasion of the seat of government, but an attack that put them in physical danger, their lives at serious risk. The sense of personal fear that pervades Congress extends to Republicans as well: Representative Jason Crow of Colorado, a Democrat, told MSNBC this morning that GOP lawmakers confided to him that they were “afraid for their lives” if they voted for impeachment. Despite the plots that Democrats have learned about, Biden told reporters earlier this week that he was “not afraid” of taking his oath outside the Capitol, on the same dais that rioters defiled last week and could threaten again. Schakowsky wasn’t so sure. “If I were him,” she told me, “I’d stay inside.”
Democrats are demanding that the Senate reconvene immediately to hold an impeachment trial, but they’ll need McConnell’s backing to end a recess scheduled through January 19. And McConnell told the Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, on Wednesday that he would not call the chamber back early, meaning that the trial will not begin until after Biden is sworn in the next day. Democrats would then be faced with the prospect that an outgoing president who craves attention would dominate the national spotlight days or even weeks into Biden’s term. A Senate trial could further delay the confirmation of Biden’s Cabinet and undermine his public pledges to turn the page on the Trump era and move rapidly to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control. Some House Democrats, including Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, the party whip and a close Biden ally, had suggested the House pass the article of impeachment but hold off on sending it to the Senate until after Biden’s first 100 days.
As the House prepared to vote, that option appeared to be off the table. Democrats were buoyed by the surprising news that McConnell might turn against Trump—a move that could serve as a permission slip for Senate Republicans to follow and potentially lead to a conviction. “If McConnell supported conviction, you’d likely see a lot more,” Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland told me shortly after The New York Timesreported that the GOP leader was considering it. Even before that news broke, Van Hollen told me that based on conversations he had had with Republican colleagues, it was clear to him that the number voting to convict the president would exceed the single GOP senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, who backed Trump’s removal a year ago. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska has sharply criticized Trump’s role in last week’s assault, and Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have said he should resign. “All I can predict now is that there will be more than before, but how many, we just don’t know,” Van Hollen said.
A conviction in the Senate, even if it came after Trump had left office, still carries with it an additional sanction enticing to Democrats and possibly quite a few Republicans: The Senate could vote to punish Trump by barring him from holding office and preventing him from running for president ever again. “That’s a lot more than symbolic,” Representative Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania told me. “In almost any other scenario I would say, ‘Well, tough, we just got to go out and beat him the old-fashioned way.’ But I think he proved with this attack last week that he just simply should be disqualified from even seeking that office.”
For Democrats in the House, however, that consequence is beyond their control. The vote today was their final chance to affix one more infamy on Donald Trump’s legacy, to send him out of the White House not with a wave but with a kick. “It’s important,” Schakowsky told me, “that he be disgraced.”
My first Donald Trump campaign rally was memorable in all the wrong ways. I can’t recall anything Trump said that night in Pennsylvania during the 2016 race, but I won’t forget a tense exchange with one of his supporters. Minutes after I walked in, a man who looked to be in his 20s spotted the press pass pinned to my jacket: “Are you Jewish?” he asked. I bristled and, for the first time covering a political rally, wondered if I’d make it home safely.
How do these things happen? When the MAGA movement leader employs martial rhetoric to describe even the mundane rituals of American politics—warning that he’s the victim of a “coup,” fearmongering about treasonous rivals and disloyal staff and “fake news”—it’s not all that surprising that his aggrieved base seeks vengeance.
For that reason, shocking though it was to see an insurrectionist mob storm the U.S. Capitol this week, it also seemed as if the Trump train had reached its final destination. Previewing the rally that took place before the assault, Trump tweeted that it would be “wild.”
So much for his campaign theme celebrating “law and order.” A rally can be “wild” or it can be lawful and orderly, but it’s tough to see how it can be both. (On Friday night, Twitter took the extraordinary step of permanently suspending his account.)
Speaking to his supporters at the rally Wednesday morning, Trump said: “We’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and -women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
What did he believe might happen once they reached the seat of government? Congress was inside counting the final votes formalizing Joe Biden’s victory—votes that would uphold what Trump has baselessly told them was a fraudulent election. A more combustible situation would be hard to fathom. He could have instead told them to disperse, because what many of them want is something the U.S. political system can’t possibly deliver. They’re not tethered to democratic norms that call for compromise and conciliation. What they’re asking for can’t be accommodated in a lawful government serving one nation.
Outside the Capitol on Wednesday, I watched as a line of police in riot gear marched single file toward the melee. “Traitors get the rope!” one man shouted at them. Another stood near the west front and screamed: “They stole your election, and now they’re going to kill you! So you better stand up! I’m going to get my reinforcements!” A man shouted epithets at a television cameraperson, who patiently tried to explain that he was a reporter covering a story. “We’re the news!” another shouted at him. A 34-year-old who’d come up from Florida told me he had gotten inside the Capitol and spent an hour there before police escorted him out. “Why did you come?” I asked. I figured he’d say he wanted to somehow block Biden from becoming president and usher in a second term for Trump. The demands went well beyond even that antidemocratic outcome. He wanted to see a “peaceful separation of the country.” (Someone else who might want to see the United States splinter: Vladimir Putin.)
I’d been hearing similar fantasies long before the MAGA army overran Capitol Police and flooded inside. In September, two months before the election, I spoke with Trump supporters at a rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. One man parroted a claim that Trump has been making: that he could lose the election to Biden only if it were rigged.
That’s ludicrous, of course. Biden won the election because he got more votes. But if you accept the president’s heads-I-win, tails-you-lose scenario, you might be prone to the delusion that armed rebellion is the only patriotic remedy. That seems to be where we are today.
“People are not going to stand for it,” the man told me. “People aren’t stocking up on ammunition just to fill up their shelves … Patriots are buying weapons for a reason.”
A battle for the MAGA movement in the post-Trump era is now under way. Two ambitious Republican senators, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, seem bent on inheriting Trump’s core supporters. Both objected to the vote Wednesday certifying Biden as the winner. That may impress Trump’s base, if no one else. Yet in the end, Trump’s base may prove to be his undoing: His actions at the rally are sparking calls for his immediate removal from office. If the base devours its champion, it won’t spare Trump’s imitators.
Until the assault on the Capitol, Trump was poised to be a Republican kingmaker. Even in exile, he figured to be the party’s marquee draw, dispensing endorsements and campaign money from his home at Mar-a-Lago. Now he’s forever linked to one of the darkest episodes in U.S. history, one with a clear through line from his rhetoric to the hostility it ignites. Trump faces postpresidency with a diminished megaphone, while the party he left in tatters casts about for an identity. He seems to understand the depths of his isolation. Reading from a teleprompter, he gave a statement Thursday calling for “healing and reconciliation,” scripted sentiments at odds with every instinct he’s shown.
“He doesn’t care what you did for him yesterday; he cares what you do for him right now,” Brendan Buck, a former aide to the Republican House Speakers Paul Ryan and John Boehner, told me. “That’s something that every Republican who is building a political brand around this one person should keep in mind. He’s completely unreliable. You can’t count on him to be there for you, so why should you be there for him?”
This week, a mob of extremists, incited by President Donald Trump, bypassed police lines and entered the Capitol. They smashed windows and furniture, stole a lectern and laptops, and broke into the Senate chambers. They disrupted Congress and forced lawmakers to evacuate to security bunkers. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer, and about 50 other officers were injured. Three bombs were found on the Capitol grounds and at the Democratic and Republican national headquarters.
This insurrection revealed a shocking lack of security: The system meant to keep order at the seat of American democracy plainly failed. The rioters did not pass through metal detectors or any sort of security apparatus on their way into the building, and many seemed to be armed. One man was found to be carrying 11 Molotov cocktails “ready to go,” according to the Department of Justice. Officers arrested only about 20 rioters during the siege, allowing most of them to walk out of the Capitol as if they had done nothing wrong, and an officer may have even directed rioters toward the office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer when asked, according to The New York Times.
A breach such as this will have consequences. The chief of the Capitol Police has already resigned, as have the House and Senate’s chief law-enforcement officers. Congress must hold an inquiry to understand what happened and how the building could have been invaded. Hundreds of millions of dollars of post-9/11 security improvements did not prove sufficient to keep a few thousand people from storming the gates. Americans must understand, too, why the Capitol Police repeatedly turned down offers for reinforcements on the days leading up to the riot and during the invasion itself. This cannot happen again. We must have answers.
Yet getting those answers must be understood as necessary, but not sufficient, to prevent whatever happened this week from happening again. The question “How can we secure the Capitol?” is the means by which this week’s catastrophe will be blunted. One can already imagine the speeches: Whether you think pro-Trump loyalists or antifa broke into the Capitol, we can agree that the seat of our national government must be better protected, a lawmaker will say, on the verge of voting for a big, bipartisan bill to buy more roadblocks. Members of Congress have already started down this path. “U.S. Capitol security needs a total overhaul. The physical breaching and desecration of our temple of democracy must never happen again,” Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, said on Twitter. The thing is, he is right, but physical security improvements alone will not protect the Capitol from another insurrection.
Because, really, no amount of security paraphernalia can prevent what happened this week from happening again. The head of the executive branch incited a group of armed supporters to attack the legislative branch. It is impossible to protect the Capitol against such a threat with more barricades and officers. I don’t just mean that this sort of reinforcement is difficult; I mean that it is impossible: Congress will never be able to muster the same weapons available to the president. You can design a legislative complex to withstand many threats, but warfare among the co-equal branches is not one of them. The government cannot be a fortress against itself.
So the response to this week’s insurrection cannot merely be about the physical security of the Capitol building. The acquisition of new weapons and barriers must not be our primary response to the siege. The Capitol grounds themselves are gloriously open to the public. Any person can wander through the same gardens as a senator. The Capitol complex—the dozen-plus buildings that comprise the House and Senate offices and the Library of Congress—is the last seat of federal power that any American can enter without an appointment. (The Capitol itself requires more planning to enter, but it is open to the public in a way that the White House is not.) It is a crowded, egalitarian mecca, where on any average Tuesday you can see unionized nurses, men in cowboy hats, uniformed military officers, and gawking tourists. It is one of the final working public places in Washington. To protect its status as a monument to democracy, we must not sacrifice what actually makes it democratic.
WILMINGTON, Del.—What, exactly, is Joe Biden supposed to do with this? What is he supposed to say?
Today in Washington, D.C., a mob urged on by President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. Trump’s decisions led to police tear-gassing protesters in front of the White House in June. His decisions led to the same outcome in the Capitol Rotunda today, and Vice President Mike Pence and Vice President–elect Kamala Harris were rushed away.
But there was neither excitement nor harassment on the streets of Wilmington today. Secret Service agents milled about, but none of them were in riot gear. There were no busloads of white nationalists or conspiracy theorists wandering around outside, no showdowns with police. No buildings needed to be evacuated for safety. No one was accosted. No property was stolen or damaged.
Before he came out to speak, the president-elect watched the TV footage with a mix of outrage and dismay. Between sentences, his mouth would drop into a scowl of disgust as he visibly considered whether he was going to stay on script or tear off. Biden has spent his life dreaming of being president—but not like this. His instinct is to be a conciliator, a dealmaker, the man constantly in pursuit of the middle ground. He’s spent his career insisting that people are good, that they can get along, that America isn’t the country it’s become under Trump. This afternoon, he was supposed to give a short speech about small businesses, some subtle counterprogramming to Trump’s rally in Washington. Biden aides worried about what Trump was up to, but ultimately regarded it as a distraction: They felt they could safely get out the popcorn and enjoy watching the Republicans try to justify Trump’s actions.
But there’s no ignoring what members of Congress have called everything from “banana-republic crap” to “domestic terror.” There’s no reaching across the aisle when the president’s oldest son and self-styled political heir started the day by telling rally attendees, “These guys better fight for Trump. Because if they’re not, guess what? I’m going to be in your backyard in a couple of months!” and then panicked into backtracking when he saw that his words were being taken seriously, literally, and violently.
Throughout the past year, Biden often struggled to simultaneously campaign for president while delivering the message that America needed to hear from its leader. This afternoon, as Trump kicked back in his limo heading to the White House, after telling rioters that he’d be going with them to the Capitol, the role of responsible politician again fell to the president-elect.
“The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not represent a true America,” Biden said in a speech from the stage of the reclaimed theater that he’s been using for events during the pandemic. “What we’re seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness.” He called the crowd that stormed the Capitol a mob, and their actions an insurrection. He said it “borders on sedition, and it must end now.” He accused Trump of shirking his oath of office by not immediately joining Biden in calling for the mob to go home. (Trump tweeted a video later in the day telling people to go home, but it was removed from the site because in it he still claimed to have won the presidential election by a landslide.)
Biden decided to run against Trump because of the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, which Trump at the time described as having “very fine people on both sides.” Never before, Biden has repeatedly insisted with disgust, had a president said anything like that.
Today was the bookend—for the country, and for Trump, as he again failed to condemn far-right insurrectionists during a moment of national chaos and fear. “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” Trump tweeted.
Should there be any question of what Biden thought of the day’s events—he’s been constantly accused, even through the weekend, of not taking the attacks on his legitimacy seriously enough—he quoted Abraham Lincoln: “We shall nobly save or merely lose the last, best hope on earth … The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just—a way, which if followed, the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.”
If you’re reading this article, you were probably watching live on TV, or saw what he said in news articles or tweets soon after he finished. If you’re reading this article, you probably weren’t among those storming the seat of our federal government, either to pose for pictures in the Senate president’s chair or to steal a lectern or to threaten the reporters, members of Congress, and law-enforcement officers there to do their jobs.
Biden is not speaking to the members of the mob. Like cheese dip that’s been left out in the sun too long, they’re probably spoiled. They won’t ever come back to reality, where sometimes politicians win elections and sometimes they lose elections.
But Biden is speaking to Republicans—Republican leaders, specifically. More than 150 congressional Republicans embraced Trump’s call to challenge the (not close) election, hoping to demonstrate their loyalty to him, or get a leg up for the 2024 GOP presidential primaries. Many, perhaps most, of those members knew that the election wasn’t actually stolen. But those who aren’t in the know didn’t realize it was all a show. “The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken,” Mitch McConnell, the majority leader for a few more days, said on the Senate floor in admonishment of what his colleagues were about to do. “If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.”
In the past year, Biden has seen these same Republicans play dumb about Trump’s efforts to barter the integrity of American foreign policy and military aid in exchange for helpful dirt on Biden and his son. He’s seen most say nothing about the Trump campaign’s dragging his son’s addiction into the presidential race. He often said while campaigning that the American people know who Trump is. He knows who Trump’s water carriers are, and he won’t forget. He’ll try to get them to work on common-ground legislation, but now that the two Senate victories in Georgia will give Democrats full control of Congress, he won’t necessarily need to. He will try, but those who have spoken with Biden say he does know that when McConnell and his colleagues call for bipartisanship, they’re often bluffing.
They’re mostly a lost cause too, he knows. Biden is still trying, desperately, to talk to the people outside the Washington bubble. Trump made fun of him in the debates for looking right into the camera and talking to the people at home, calling that a politician’s trick. But Biden is hoping he can reach people like the Georgians who abandoned Trump since voting for him on November 3, or those who maybe looked away from the cable coverage today to see the Trump-Pence lawn signs they still had up, and began to think about taking them down.
Trump is interested only in talking to those who already like him, and places value on people in direct proportion to how much they can do for him. Biden is never going to spend his days yelling at the TV about MSNBC coverage. He likes being told that he’s wonderful (most people do), but he builds his own faith in himself on the idea that he can win over those who do not agree with him.
Three days before the election, at a campaign stop outside Miami, I asked Harris whether she was worried about Trump trying to seize power if he lost. “I really do believe that the American people have a line that they will be unwilling to cross—and that line is, whoever they vote for, that there will be a respect for the election and the outcome, and they want a peaceful transfer of power, and they will stand for our democracy, whoever they vote for.” On Monday evening in Washington, I asked her if she would call what Republicans in Congress had planned—raising objections to the Electoral College results, as they were starting to do when the mob poured in—a coup. She was more succinct. “Let me just tell you something: We’re going to be inaugurated. Period.”
Biden will be hoping his vice president is correct: that there is a line the American people won’t cross, and that he and Harris will be inaugurated. Right now, though, they’re only sure of the second part.
“I am not concerned about my safety, security, or the inauguration. I’m not concerned,” Biden said today, stepping back toward reporters to add something to his prepared statement. “The American people are going to stand up, and stand up now. Enough is enough is enough.”
The Ellipse was a deep sea of delusion. Thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters drove or bused or flew from all corners of the United States to meet here, in the treeless space beside the White House, in their quest to overturn the results of the 2020 election with the help of congressional Republicans. “As I live and die, we will never give up until we have a fair-and-square election!” a small child in a rainbow hat yelled into a megaphone.
But the morning’s fevered theorizing about election fraud and “Stop the steal!” chants, which at first felt more pitiful than threatening, gave way to violence by the afternoon. The mob stormed the Capitol, chased police officers up the marble steps, and forced the evacuation of the vice president as hundreds of lawmakers and congressional staff huddled under desks and reached for gas masks. It was a grave moment for American democracy, and a clarifying one as well: Today was one of the few times that Trump’s most extreme supporters actually encountered the Republican lawmakers who have stoked their anger and encouraged their delusions for years.
The politicians who enabled Trump did not expect the president’s followers to ever break through the glass windows of the Capitol and ascend the Senate dais. They did not anticipate that a man wearing a Camp Auschwitz shirt or others, with Confederate flags or dressed as fur-clad Vikings, would breach the building; that a woman would lie dying by one of the building’s entrances, shot by Capitol Police. Trump, for them, has been a blunt instrument they can use to retain power, appoint conservative judges, and pass tax cuts. Today, these Republicans finally confronted the monster they’ve created.
The insurrectionists started their march to the Capitol before Trump had even finished his midday address at the Ellipse. Members of Congress had just begun to debate the certification of Arizona’s electors. “Move in—let them hear your voice!” a man shouted from the West Lawn, urging people across the barricades that other members of the mob had crushed earlier. As the area around the Capitol filled up, insurrectionists began climbing the scaffolding set up for Joe Biden’s imminent inauguration. Capitol Police fired pepper balls. Some Trump supporters, recognizing that their rally had turned into something more sinister, left the area. (“I was just trying to demonstrate peacefully,” I heard a man tell his female companion as the two quickly fled the scene.) But many others moved in closer, pulling gas masks out of their backpacks, apparently well prepared for this moment.
Steve and Wendy Meek, who’d driven to the nation’s capital from northeast Ohio, were watching the chaos from a few yards away, covering their faces to avoid choking on the swirling clouds of pepper spray. “There will never be another fair election in this country” if Biden is inaugurated, Steve told me, as the crowd around him chanted, “Whose house? Our house!” He and Wendy could see plainly the mob attempting to storm the Capitol building. “I get what those people are feeling,” Steve said. “These congresspeople, they just lock themselves in behind their doors and they don’t care what we think out here, just as long as they get what they feel this country needs. It’s not about the people anymore. It’s just about the people in that building.”
Behind the Meeks, three grimacing, middle-aged men passed a bottle of water between them, pouring it directly into their eyes. A few minutes earlier, after they had pushed through a set of gates and climbed the Capitol’s western steps, police had sprayed them twice with tear gas. “We’re trying to occupy the Capitol to show them what we’re about as Americans,” a man named Tom told me, his eyes shut tight. “We’re trying to occupy the Capitol building with a million people or however many will fit in there.”
Just before we spoke, the House and the Senate had abruptly adjourned their session as the mob infiltrated the building. Vice President Mike Pence, who’d been presiding over the chamber, was rushed to a secure location. By early afternoon, the entire Capitol complex was locked down. Insurrectionists took photos of themselves posing in the House speaker’s office. Reporters inside the House chamber said shots had been fired inside. The woman who was shot in the building was pronounced dead. The mayor of Washington, D.C., declared a 6 p.m. curfew, and the National Guard began arriving to clear the seat of the country’s legislative power. The president had all but encouraged this revolt in his rally speech just hours before, and in a video released on Twitter this evening, Trump appeared to justify the insurrection. (Twitter subsequently removed the video.)
At sundown, metal bike racks that had been used as barricades lay in heaps on the east plaza. A line of police stood sentry halfway up the Senate steps as demonstrators walked back and forth below, wearing gas masks and resting Trump flags on their shoulders like rifles. “Traitors! Socialists!” one of them shouted at the police.
A man near the steps called for people to gather around. “I’m going to get my weapons, and I’m coming back,” he told them.
Peter Nicholas and Russell Berman contributed reporting.
The probability that Republicans will lose both of this week’s Senate runoff elections in Georgia crystallizes the risk the party has accepted by allowing Donald Trump to refashion the GOP in his image.
In a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic senator since 2000, Democrats now appear to have elected two on a single day by dominating the largest population centers, particularly the Atlanta metropolitan area, with the help of powerful turnout among Black voters. The electorate’s strong movement toward Democrats in more populous places allowed the longtime pastor and activist Raphael Warnock to oust the GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler, and also propelled fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff to a relatively narrow but likely insurmountable lead over the Republican Senator David Perdue. The Democratic candidates succeeded despite solid majorities, and even relatively large turnout, for the two Republicans in exurban, small-town, and rural areas where Trump remains revered.
In that way, the race functioned as a microcosm for the electoral trade that Trump has imposed on his party through four years of relentless turmoil, conspiracy-theory-mongering, and assaults on small-d democratic norms—all of which will culminate in today’s unprecedented attempt by dozens of House and Senate Republicans to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
Trump has expanded the GOP advantage among non-college-educated, nonurban, and evangelical white voters, a pattern that allowed him to turbocharge Republican turnout in November, help his party beat back well-funded Democratic Senate challenges in GOP-leaning states, and recapture at least 13 House seats, mostly in similarly conservative-leaning terrain. But in the process, Trump has virtually exiled the GOP from the fast-growing, economically dynamic urban centers and inner suburbs in almost every state—powering historic levels of turnout against him among young people and minority voters (despite gains in some Black and Latino communities), and repelling many previously Republican-leaning college-educated white voters.
In effect, as Georgia’s results underscored, Trump has accelerated the emergence of what could be called the blue beltway: a growing Democratic tilt nationwide in the racially diverse, well-educated (and in many cases more religiously secular) city centers and inner suburbs of large metropolitan areas in nearly all corners of the country. That electoral shift predated Trump, but he has significantly intensified it.
The widening divide between town and country in Georgia and elsewhere leaves both parties on edge. Democrats worry that their weakness in rural areas hurts them in the battle for control of the House and, especially, the Senate, where Republicans have established a stranglehold over seats in sparsely settled, mostly white and Christian interior states. Many Republicans in turn fear that they are surrendering areas with the most voters and the most jobs: Biden this year won 91 of the country’s 100 largest counties, and though he won only about one-sixth of the nation’s counties overall, his accounted for fully 71 percent of the country’s total economic output, according to calculations by the Brookings Institution.
This fundamental geographic and demographic realignment has allowed Trump, on balance, to strengthen the GOP position in the Rust Belt (despite Biden’s advancement in several key states’ metropolitan areas). But the same changes have notably weakened the GOP’s position across much of the Sun Belt during Trump’s tenure. Although North Carolina and Florida have remained out of reach for Democrats, Virginia and Colorado have shifted from swing states to solidly Democratic. Since 2016, Arizona, long a Republican bastion, has elected two Democratic senators and backed Biden. Even Texas has become more competitive for Democrats as the party has established a clear advantage in the biggest urban centers and inner suburbs there.
With Democrats’ gains there since November, Georgia has emphatically shifted out of the “safely red” category that it’s occupied since at least the turn of the 21st century. Until Biden’s victory two months ago, the only Democratic presidential nominee to carry the state since native son Jimmy Carter was Bill Clinton in 1992—and even he won just 43.5 percent of the vote in a three-way contest. Until this week, Georgians hadn’t elected a Democratic senator since Zell Miller in 2000; Miller was a former governor so conservative that he endorsed George W. Bush for reelection in 2004. And a Democrat hasn’t won a Georgia governor’s race since 1999.
The Democratic revival in Georgia was fueled by the same factors that have lifted the party across most of the Sun Belt. Over the past several decades, the state has steadily grown more racially diverse, primarily because of a reverse migration of African Americans back to the South. Georgia’s Latino and Asian American populations have grown rapidly too; people of color have increased from roughly 30 percent of the state’s eligible voters in 2004 to about 40 percent this year. Younger, white college graduates moving to the state’s bustling economic centers also boosted the audience for Democratic candidates. These voters “have been gravitating toward the Democrats and have been pushed away by the direction of the Republican Party … before Trump, but even more so under Trump,” Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, told me.
An unprecedented grassroots-organizing effort led by Stacey Abrams, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2018, has converted the raw material of that demographic change into a torrent of new registrations and voters, particularly among young people and people of color. (White people accounted for less than one-fifth of the 520,000 new voters registered in the state since 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.) All signs suggest that Black turnout was perhaps the crucial ingredient in this week’s Democratic success; Fulton and DeKalb Counties, each with huge Black populations, provided backbreaking advantages of more than 200,000 votes for Warnock and Ossoff alike.
Going forward, “Georgia absolutely is a competitive state; it is a battleground state, where it is a game of inches,” Nsé Ufot, the CEO of the New Georgia Project, the voter-mobilization group founded by Abrams, told me. Candidates “are going to have to come and see” Black, Asian American, and Latino voters “if you seriously want to win and win big in our state.”
As in Virginia, Colorado, Arizona, and even Texas, the second major factor in the Democrats’ Georgia gains was their strength in big suburban counties with large numbers of college graduates. Those places are shifting, in part, because they are much more racially diverse than they once were: Nonwhite residents, for instance, constitute more than a third of the population in Gwinnett County and just over half in Cobb. (Ufot told me that although many political observers remember those northern Atlanta suburbs as the places that first elected the Republican firebrand Newt Gingrich during the 1970s, “when I think about suburban communities, I think about the most ethnically diverse part of our states.”) The evidence also suggests that although Republicans are still winning most college-educated white voters in Georgia, Biden and the Senate candidates ran much more competitively among them than the party did even six or eight years ago.
The Democrats’ suburban gains in Georgia are especially noteworthy because of historical context and immediate circumstance.
The historical context is that in Georgia, as in most southern states that voted reliably Democratic for the first century after the Civil War, Republicans established their initial beachheads in what were then “white flight” suburbs around Atlanta. Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who once lived and worked in Georgia, notes that when the GOP started seriously competing with Democrats in the 1980s and 1990s, Gwinnett and Cobb were the party’s first strongholds. “As Republicans, we used to get 60-plus percent in Cobb and Gwinnett,” Ayres told me. By contrast, both Warnock and Ossoff won almost exactly 60 percent of the vote in Gwinnett, and between 56 and 57 percent of the vote in Cobb.
The immediate context is that Republicans suffered this erosion in the big Atlanta suburbs with two candidates who, on paper, should have been a good fit for their many prosperous subdivisions. Both Perdue and Loeffler are buttoned-down, multimillionaire former corporate executives who had never held public office before taking their Senate seats. (Perdue was elected in 2014, and Loeffler was appointed last year to replace the retiring Republican Johnny Isakson.) And each spent enormous sums on advertising trying to disqualify their opponent as an un-American socialist who would fundamentally, and irrevocably, transform America.
Less than seven years ago, Perdue won his GOP primary race against Representative Jack Kingston, a much more doctrinaire conservative, primarily because of his strong performance among business-oriented Republicans in the Atlanta suburbs. Governor Brian Kemp selected Loeffler in part because he believed that she could help reel back the suburban white women who have been drifting from the GOP in the Trump era.
Instead, Perdue and (especially) Loeffler tried to reinvent themselves as born-again Trump-style populists. Both supported the president unreservedly—to the point of denouncing the state’s Republican election officials and backing challenges to the November vote that would invalidate the results, and disenfranchise the voters, in their own state. The apex—or nadir—of their reinvention came on Monday night, the day before the election, when Loeffler (in person) and Perdue (via video) shared a stage in rural northwest Georgia with Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican representative who has openly embraced the corrosive QAnon conspiracy. To see “two corporate executives standing on the same stage with [the] QAnon congresswoman creates a head-snapping picture,” Ayres told me.
The price of their political makeover may be most apparent in their weak showing in metropolitan counties across the state. Figures provided to me by J. Miles Coleman, the associate editor of the newsletter Sabato’s Crystal Ball, show that from 2014 through the 2020 general election, Perdue increased his share of the vote in nearly 120 of the state’s 159 counties, most of them smaller, rural, and exurban. But over that same period, Perdue’s share of the vote declined in 42 counties, including all 10 of the state’s largest. In six of the 10 largest (including Cobb and Gwinnett, both of which he won last time), his vote share declined by double digits from 2014 to 2020. Notably, he declined not only in the racially diversifying inner suburbs, but also in preponderantly white but well-educated exurban counties. Though the Republican strongholds of Forsyth and Cherokee Counties still gave him large margins in November, in each of them his advantage was far smaller than it was six years ago.
The picture looked very similar in the unofficial results from last night. Perdue won Forsyth and Cherokee, but by about the same diminished margin as in November; he lost Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, and DeKalb by about as much as he did two months ago, all considerably bigger deficits than in 2014. His problem wasn’t only in and around Atlanta: Perdue’s deficit in Savannah (Chatham County) was nearly double his shortfall in 2014. Generally, Loeffler ran even a little further behind Perdue in the state’s most populous places. The results in the Atlanta suburbs, Ayres told me, amounted to nothing less than “a revolution” in Georgia politics.
Both sides agree that it’s an open question whether this “revolution” in Democratic strength across the nation’s inner suburbs will stick once Trump leaves the White House and fades at least somewhat from the headlines. But it’s equally uncertain whether Republicans in Georgia and elsewhere can rely on the super-hot turnout among nonurban white voters that Trump has generated since 2016. Yesterday’s turnout in Republican bastions remained very strong by historic standards, but generally not quite as strong as in the more populous Democratic areas.
“One of the big questions that this runoff today raises is whether Republicans in Georgia can generate the kind of turnout in small-town and rural Georgia that they need to offset the growing Democratic strength in the metropolitan areas, including the suburbs, when Trump is not on the ballot,” Abramowitz, the political scientist at Emory, told me.
Looking nationwide, the evidence strongly suggests that the metro-based Democratic coalition is now larger than the Republican coalition rooted in nonurban America. With Biden’s victory, Democrats have won the popular vote in seven of the past eight presidential elections—a feat no party has managed since the formation of the modern party system in 1828. Assigning half of each state’s population to each senator, and assuming Ossoff holds his lead, Democrats will represent more than 56 percent of the nation’s population in the new Senate, according to calculations by Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at the centrist think tank New America.
Yet it still seems fitting that the two parties will likely emerge from yesterday’s elections with the Senate divided exactly in half and with Democrats holding only a minuscule majority in the House—one of the most closely divided Congresses in American history. Though larger, the Democratic coalition remains geographically limited in ways that allow Republicans to maximize their leverage, an advantage magnified by aggressive GOP gerrymandering and voter-suppression laws in many red states.
Georgia has likely provided Biden and Democrats with a much stronger hand to advance their agenda than seemed possible on Election Night, and the outcome has underscored the electoral trends that most threaten Republicans at the convulsive end of the Trump presidency. But it’s hardly left Democrats in a secure position to dominate the political competition of the coming decade, despite all the demographic trends that favor them. The work of constructing such an advantage begins for Joe Biden two weeks from today.
Mitt Romney’s flight to Washington, D.C., hadn’t even taken off yesterday when the chants from the back of the plane began: “TRAI-TOR! TRAI-TOR! TRAI-TOR!”
The Republican senator from Utah is used to angering Donald Trump’s most die-hard fans. But Romney’s latest sin against MAGA orthodoxy—the one that had so riled his fellow passengers—is especially egregious: He’s refused to go along with a plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
“A huge portion of the American public has been misled by the president about the outcome of the election,” Romney told me over the phone, a few hours after his flight. He sounded fairly sanguine for a man who’d spent the day getting harassed in airports, and showed little interest in venting about his hecklers. Instead, Romney’s frustration was aimed at Republican leaders cynically fanning conspiracy theories about the November vote for their own political gain. In combustible moments like this one, Romney said, “you can either be a fire extinguisher or a flamethrower. And President Trump has been a flamethrower.”
The spectacle set to play out today on Capitol Hill—where at least a dozen Republican senators plan to challenge Electoral College votes from states the president lost—vividly captures the partisan incentives on the modern right. The Trump-era Republican Party has become a laboratory for innovations in illiberalism. Status flows to those who conjure the most creative defenses of corruption; rising stars prove themselves by smashing democratic norms. And anyone who voices dissent risks swift retribution from the president and his followers.
This dynamic has only intensified since the election, as Trump’s allies have scrambled to keep him in power by whatever means necessary—or at least be seen trying. They’ve amplified baseless voter-fraud claims and championed failed lawsuits; they’ve strong-armed state election officials and assembled pro-Trump “electors” to replace the real ones. That none of these tactics has come close to succeeding hardly matters to enterprising Republicans such as Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, who are leading today’s gambit. What matters are the millions of MAGA diehards enthusiastically cheering them on at every turn.
As the Trump era draws to a close, this is the state of the Republican Party: fractured, out of power, and bitterly fighting over core tenets of democracy. The president’s departure from office may be imminent, but the future of the party he’s leaving behind is less certain than ever.
Romney told me that he was outraged, if not entirely surprised, by the president’s recent machinations. He noted that Trump’s efforts to pressure Georgia’s secretary of state into subverting the vote bore an eerie resemblance to the president’s infamous 2019 call with the Ukrainian president, which led to Trump’s impeachment. “It was disrespectful of voters, it was dishonoring to the democratic process, and it disgraces the office of the presidency,” said Romney, the lone Senate Republican to support Trump’s removal from office. “The president was right that there was an effort to corrupt the election, but it was not by Joe Biden. It was by President Trump.”
Romney said he’s focused on persuading his Republican colleagues not to go along with Trump’s undemocratic scheme. He’s spent recent days working on a floor speech designed to appeal to his fellow senators’ sense of their own legacies. “In the eyes of history, all the nuance of the arguments made to object to electors being seated will probably be lost,” he told me. “And instead, it will be: Did you support this effort carried out by President Trump, or did you not?”
Such lofty arguments won’t work on everybody. Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky, a staunch Trump supporter, told me that he opposes the Electoral College challenge on constitutional grounds, and thinks most of his colleagues understand that Congress can’t actually reverse a presidential election. But he’s also clear-eyed about the political realities. “Trump has a 94 percent approval rating among my Republican electorate—I’ve actually polled it twice,” Massie said. “Those are people that vote in the primaries in Kentucky’s Fourth District … I’m going to have a lot of explaining to do.”
Jeff Flake, an outspoken Republican critic of the president who retired from the Senate in 2019, told me that too few of his former colleagues have been willing to level with their base during the Trump years. “Sometimes it’s your job to tell your constituents they’re all wet,” he said. “There’s been very little willingness to do that.”
Meanwhile, some Republicans are beginning to grapple with how the broken precedents of the Trump era could reshape politics in the years ahead—especially now that Democrats appear on the verge of controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska has been urging his fellow Republicans to take the long view on the Electoral College challenge. “If politicians use a tactic once, they’ll use it again,” Sasse told me. “If these votes become a cost-free way to signal dissatisfaction with the outcome of an election, this is going to be a tradition every four years.”
For Romney, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which a presidential power grab like Trump’s might actually succeed in the future. “Instead of being represented by Larry, Moe, and Rudy, a future presidential candidate may have highly competent counsel,” he told me. “There may be state election officials with less backbone. So the precedent itself is dangerous.”
After all, Romney noted, accusations of voter fraud are unlikely to vanish from American politics anytime soon. “You may not believe this,” he said, “but there are people who come up to me today and say, ‘You were robbed [in 2012]. You won; the Democrats stole your election.’”
When I expressed surprise at this, Romney laughed. “It was my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law,” he confessed. “I said, ‘Oh my, you’re wrong.’”
What started as American lawmakers’ bipartisan denunciation of the Capitol Hill riot, and Donald Trump’s role in stoking it, quickly grew to include condemnation from many U.S. allies: World leaders as far afield as Britain, Canada, and India voiced distress and alarm at the vandalism taking place at the seat of U.S. democracy, as did officials from the European Union and NATO.
Before long, even some of Trump’s most vocal supporters abroad began joining the chorus: Nigel Farage, the British politician and longtime Trump ally, tweeted that “storming Capitol Hill”—as Trump had all but encouraged his supporters to do—“is wrong.” Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s far-right League party, said that “violence is never the solution, never.” Geert Wilders, the far-right Dutch politician known as the “Dutch Trump,” reacted to the live coverage by stressing that “the outcome of democratic elections should always be respected, whether you win or lose.”
Where have Trump’s friends gone? For years, populists and nationalists around the world have looked to the president as something of a global champion—a leader who not only spoke their nativist, iconoclastic language, but proved that the populist political project each of them was attempting in their own country was possible. If it can happen in America, one of the greatest democracies on Earth, they surmised, it can happen here too.
That vision might have dimmed following Trump’s defeat in last year’s presidential election, but it didn’t disappear completely: Many of the European figures who have an affinity for the American president remained supportive of him in the fraught, contested aftermath of the vote. The far-right French politician Marine Le Pen continued to call into question Biden’s victory well after the results were announced (an outcome she publicly acknowledged only this week). Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša went as far as to prematurely congratulate Trump on the election. But by Wednesday, both politicians had changed tack. Janša tweeted, “All should be very troubled by the violence taking place in Washington D.C.” Le Pen condemned “any violent act that aims to disrupt the democratic process” and urged Trump to do the same.
This wasn’t an ideological break. Many of the same figures who decried the violence in the U.S. had openly stated their desire that Trump win reelection. Even after his defeat, few of them rushed to acknowledge Biden’s victory, let alone condemn the president’s efforts to undermine trust in American democracy with baseless claims of voter fraud or calls to force the election outcome in his favor—the consequences of which were on full display in the Capitol. Virtually all of them stopped short of assigning Trump blame for the violence.
But perhaps the break was a practical one. Even populists who show nothing but disdain for democratic institutions don’t want to be associated with an insurrection, or be seen to be inciting one. The scenes of red-capped Trump supporters waltzing through the halls of Congress, some wielding Confederate flags and sporting sweaters emblazoned with messages such as Camp Auschwitz, are enough to make anyone bristle.* For Europe’s far-right leaders such as Le Pen, whose efforts to distance her party from its history of xenophobia and Holocaust denial have had limited success, those images would have served as a reminder of exactly the fascist association they are trying to avoid.
Trump’s erstwhile cheerleaders abroad might be keen to distance themselves for another, deeper reason: While populists have no problem attacking institutions and other threats to their power, they still claim to have a democratic mandate. Their legitimacy hinges on the populist notion that they represent an imagined “real people” against corrupt elites. Being seen to openly support undermining the democratic process, as Trump has, would undermine their very claim to power. “Anyone who violently attacks parliaments aims at the heart of democracy,” Tino Chrupalla, the spokesperson for the far-right Alternative for Germany, said in a tweet.
It was perhaps because of the widespread condemnation, from both his own party and his allies overseas, that Trump felt compelled on Thursday to characterize those involved in the insurrection as “intruders” who “do not represent our country”—the same individuals he had expressed sympathy and love for only a day earlier.
Not all of Trump’s fellow populists see what happened in Washington as a cautionary tale. Notably, those who are already in power (and therefore less reliant on maintaining appearances) had no trouble staying out of the fray, or even backing the president. Polish President Andrzej Duda dismissed the attack on the U.S. Capitol as an “internal matter,” and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a vocal supporter of Trump’s reelection, opted against interfering in “America’s business.” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has his own history of refusing to concede elections when the outcome doesn’t go his way, also declined to take a position. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who modeled his election campaign on Trump’s, told journalists that Brazil could face “a worse problem than the United States” in its election next year, an apparent suggestion that he may follow the Trump playbook once more.
For a while, other like-minded leaders seemed to be laying the groundwork to do the same. But by egging on his most violent supporters, Trump may have deterred other populists from hitching their wagons to a fallen star.
* An earlier version of this article misidentified clothing worn during the riots. Sweaters with the message 6MWE were not confirmed to have been seen.
Bryson Gray, a 29-year-old rapper and Donald Trump superfan from North Carolina, wants to make one thing clear: It was a group of the president’s most loyal supporters that rioted in the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday, and nobody else. When I spoke with Gray yesterday, he said he had been “too late” to get inside the Capitol itself with the rest of the mob, which broke windows and chanted through the halls of Congress in an ultimately futile attempt to disrupt the confirmation of Joe Biden as president. So he stood outside the building with a crowd and sang the national anthem.
“When I left the Capitol, I actually thought I was going to get on Twitter and see a bunch of support, because it was actually a very beautiful thing,” Gray said. Instead, he was met with a strange message spreading across the site: Trump fans weren’t behind the riots. Instead, it was antifa, the decentralized left-wing group that has become a bogeyman for Republican commentators and politicians, and for President Trump in particular. Many of Gray’s former #StopTheSteal allies had disavowed the insurrection, and a good number of them were using leftist antagonists as their scapegoat. “The first tweet I saw was somebody saying ‘Patriots don’t storm buildings; there were no patriots in the Capitol,’” Gray told me. “I’m like, Uh, that literally makes no sense; what are you talking about?”
As early as 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, just as the mob was taking over the Capitol building, claims that antifa had “infiltrated” the group started to go viral on Twitter. The far-right blog The Gateway Pundit insisted that a whole busload of “Antifa thugs” was on the scene. Others claimed that a well-known figure in the QAnon movement, Jake Angeli, was a “paid actor” and a secret liberal supporter of Black Lives Matter, or they labeled random photos of members of the crowd “ANTIFA supporters dressed in MAGA clothing.” By the evening, the theory had been picked up by several Republican members of Congress, including Representatives Paul Gosar of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Matt Gaetz of Florida. (None of these representatives’ offices returned a request for comment.)
The theory is false. There is no credible evidence of involvement by antifa, which is not an organized group and has been responsible for very little violence, while Gray and numerous other known MAGA figures actually were involved in the insurrection. But empirical reality notwithstanding, the antifa story has become a dividing line within the MAGA world this week—and a telling symbol of its internal upheaval.
Over the past two days, Trump loyalists have been bickering online over whether to take credit for and celebrate their most dramatic action yet, or distance themselves from the scene by calling up familiar conspiracy theories to explain it away. Some may genuinely believe, as they say, that paid “crisis actors” are responsible. Many don’t seem to know what they believe, or what is most savvy to present, and pivot from post to post. Still others, like Gray, are consistently frustrated and outraged that anybody on their side wouldn’t be proud of what happened Wednesday afternoon. “The blue-check conservatives, all the popular ones, put ‘1776’ in their bios and tweet about how it’s time for patriots to stand up and fight,” he told me. “Then they turn around and condemn patriots doing exactly that.”
The coalition, in other words, is experiencing a schism—and you can watch it on Twitter, or by flipping through Instagram Stories. As soon as #StopTheSteal went offline in a serious, dangerous way, everyone who had been posting about it had to choose a side, or a reality. Broadly, the Republican establishment and its voters have had to grapple with whether they want to continue claiming the party’s radical flank. Wednesday “was probably the most visceral experience of watching a political party fracture,” says Joan Donovan, the research director at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. “It seems to me that we’re in the midst of watching MAGA become its own movement.”
The antifa rumor is unsurprising and sort of stale—a knee-jerk response at this point to anything that certain right-wing commentators see in public and don’t like. “This is such a repetitive tactic that many in the [disinformation] field don’t even track it anymore, because it’s so glaringly obvious,” Donovan told me. Nevertheless, it caught on easily—just as it did last summer, when antifa was repeatedly blamed for stoking unrest during the Black Lives Matter protests, and the summer before, when Trump first tweeted that the “Radical Left Wack Jobs” were a “major Organization of Terror.” By Wednesday evening, the Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson were on air suggesting that it was not clear how many people at the Capitol were actually Trump supporters. Ingraham also tweeted the link to a now-debunked story on the Washington Times website, which claimed that members of antifa had been identified using facial-recognition technology. (The story is now inaccessible on the Washington Times site. The site’s digital editor did not return a request for comment.)
As the disinformation exploded across social media, Donovan points out, it benefited both from the openness and scale of major sites such as Facebook and Twitter and from the fact that it was shared enthusiastically in private Facebook groups, making its virality harder to track. Of the public Facebook posts about the story, Representative Gaetz’s was the most influential, according to data from the social-media-monitoring tool CrowdTangle. His initial post has been shared more than 7,000 times. In addition, his tweet of the link has been retweeted more than 11,000 times. (Gaetz also cited the false story in a speech on the House floor Wednesday night, saying that it provided “compelling evidence” that “some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters; they were masquerading as Trump supporters.”)
After the story took off, Facebook added an overlay to the post, labeling it “false information”—but it was still shared on the platform more than 90,000 times, according to CrowdTangle. A Facebook spokesperson told me that the company was “reducing distribution” of several claims about antifa, though it is not removing them. This was a step further than Twitter: Currently, Twitter users who search for antifa are presented with a text box informing them that the group wasn’t responsible for Wednesday’s events, but beyond that, it is unclear whether Twitter has done anything to slow the spread of the conspiracy theory. (The company has not returned a request for comment.)
Oddly, these platforms were joined in their effort to correctly identify the mob’s political allegiances by Trump diehards who were proud to accept credit. Samantha Marika, a right-wing social-media personality with 293,000 Twitter followers, appeared enthralled by the insurrection and frustrated by the claims that it was staged by antifa. “Those people aren’t Antifa,” she tweeted. “They are patriots.” On her Instagram Story, she reposted a tweet from the pro-Trump blogger David Leatherwood: “I don’t know how some of you have spent the last 2 months riling up the base about a stolen election and telling everybody we must fight- And then when we finally do you cower away and blame Antifa. Beta cucks.”
Gray, the rapper and Trump fan, for his part spent much of Wednesday and yesterday reminding his 205,000 followers of the truth in exceptionally clear terms: “No it wasn’t Antifa that stormed the Capitol building. That was us,” he wrote in one tweet. “MAGA was in DC fighting for our country and freedoms,” he wrote in another. “Twitter ‘maga’ people were giving the credit to Antifa.” That tweet ended with an emoji shedding a tear.
Social media’s scale and searchability is such that anybody looking to believe almost anything can quickly and easily find what seems like evidence to support that belief, then push it out to a wider and wider circle. In the past few days, factions of political factions have coalesced around cherry-picked pieces of reality or fondly held bits of delusion. On Instagram on Wednesday afternoon, the supposed proof of antifa’s involvement I saw most often was a blurry image of a man with a hand tattoo. Popular right-wing influencers who appeared shaken by the day’s events agreed that the tattoo was definitely a hammer and sickle, indicating that the man was a communist infiltrator in (lazy) disguise. Others have posted urgings to “think critically” about why the Capitol was so easily overrun, congregating around the possibility of some kind of setup. Meanwhile, people like Gray know that they sang the national anthem outside on a patch of grass—to their mind, this means the day was peaceful.
It should be simple: antifa or “patriots”? The choice between claiming responsibility and passing it off is an ideological line in the sand for each person who makes it. At the same time, the online MAGA world’s stutter step in this moment illustrates just how flexible reality can appear online, particularly in the thick of a breaking news event. And particularly in the hands of people who don’t care what the truth is, and are interested only in whether it can serve them.
As she marched through Washington, D.C., on Wednesday afternoon, an Instagram parenting and travel blogger who goes by @thatboldmama asked her followers why they were mad at “Americans fighting back,” insisting that “storming the US Capitol is NOT violent.” She seemed surprised to be receiving pushback. By yesterday morning, she was fully on board with the antifa theory, and sharing posts about how the event must have been staged. When I reached out to her, she referred me to one of her posts: “Don't let the news media FOOL you,” she wrote. “It was a great day until NON Patriots breached” the Capitol.
Implications for public record and legal proceedings after administration seized or destroyed papers, notes and other information
The public will not see Donald Trump’s White House records for years, but there is growing concern the collection will never be complete – leaving a hole in the history of one of America’s most tumultuous presidencies.
Trump has been cavalier about the law requiring that records be preserved. He has a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out, forcing White House workers to spend hours taping them back together.
Joe Biden has named the geneticist Eric Lander as his top scientific adviser and will elevate the position to the cabinet for the first time, a move meant to indicate a decisive break from Donald Trump’s treatment of science.
Away from the vitriol, researchers are investigating concrete steps companies, officials and the rest of us can take to tackle the crisis
It was nearing midnight on Tuesday, 12 January when the final plank of Donald Trump’s social media platform fell away. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, Snapchat and, finally, YouTube had all come to the same conclusion: that their platforms – multibillion-dollar American companies that dominate American political discourse – could not be safely used by the president of the United States.
In less than a week, a new president will take office. But considering the role social media played in elevating Trump to the presidency and its part in spreading misinformation, conspiracy theories and calls for violence, it is clear that the end of the Trump presidency won’t provide an immediate fix. There is something fundamentally broken in social media that has allowed us to reach this violent juncture, and the de-platforming of Trump is not going to address those deeper pathologies.
Nearly two-thirds of congressional Republicans made themselves complicit in Trump’s lie by voting to overturn the election, even after a deadly riot
A little more than a week ago, most Americans – perhaps even many of Donald Trump’s supporters – were ready for the 45th president and his administration to pass into the history books. Now Trump is making us all live through history.
On 6 January, the US Capitol was sacked by a pro-Trump mob, the first large-scale occupation of the citadel of American democracy since the British burned it during the War of 1812. The mob succeeded in forcing Congress to evacuate and halting the constitutional ceremony of certifying the electoral college votes – another first. Now Trump, who was charged by the House of Representatives with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the riot that left five dead, has become the first president in history ever to be impeached twice.
This week, Donald Trump sanctioned the execution of the only woman on federal death row: Lisa Montgomery. She was the 11th prisoner to be killed since the president restarted federal executions in July last year. The Guardian US’s Ed Pilkington looks at why Trump has carried out more federal executions than any other president in almost 200 years
The chief reporter for Guardian US, Ed Pilkington,talks to Anushka Asthana about the history of the federal death penalty, which Donald Trump revived last July. Trump has so far sanctioned the executions of 11 prisoners, with a further two expected to take place by the end of this week. Lisa Montgomery, who was killed by lethal injection this week, was a particularly high-profile case. Subjected to torture and sexual violence as a child, she was suffering from extreme mental illness when she committed a horrific crime. The state of her mental health was not taken into account at her original trial. So why is Trump carrying out so many executions?
Ed tells Anushka that although use of the death penalty is shrinking in the US, it is still employed in many of the former confederate states. You cannot talk about the use of the death penalty, says Ed, without looking at America’s relationship with its racist history and the impact it still has today.
(Tim Sheinman; PC, Mac) Sift through the evidence and unravel a plot to defraud US democracy in this timely immersive satire
According to Reuters, around half of those who voted for Donald Trump, the losing candidate in the recent US presidential election, believe that he is the victim of a complicated plot to deny him his rightful second term. Engendered by extreme partisanship and propagated by social media, the power of the conspiracy theory is, seemingly, at a historic high. A grim moment for democracy, then, but a serendipitous one for Tim Sheinman, the Brighton-based creator of Conspiracy!, a video game in which you must untangle the threads of sedition that run from the US deep state to the country’s highest seat of power.
The aim of the game, which features the voice of Jon Ronson, a journalist who has spent a career profiling the kinds of people who believe the kinds of outlandish theories put forward here, is disarmingly simple. You are presented with 20 Polaroid photographs, each one describing an event seemingly unrelated to the others: a flock of geese dropping dead from the sky; a fatal car accident involving a US senator; a curiously successful chain of mattress companies.
Jenna Ryan, a Texas real estate broker who took a private jet to Washington to join the attack on the US Capitol, has pleaded with Donald Trump to pardon her after she was arrested by federal authorities.
Justice department puts itself in between president and writer who sued after Trump dismissed 1990s rape allegation as bookselling ploy
The US justice department has said Donald Trump should not be forced to defend himself against a defamation lawsuit by the author E Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her, and that the government itself should be substituted as the defendant.
In a filing with the 2nd US circuit court of appeals in Manhattan, the department said Trump qualified as a typical “employee of the government” entitled to immunity under federal law from Carroll’s claims, and was also shielded because he spoke about her in his capacity as president.
In his final months in office, Donald Trump has ramped up construction on his promised physical border between the US and Mexico – devastating wildlife habitats and increasing the migrant death toll
At Sierra Vista Ranch in Arizona near the Mexican border, Troy McDaniel is warming up his helicopter. McDaniel, tall and slim in a tan jumpsuit, began taking flying lessons in the 80s, and has since logged 2,000 miles in the air. The helicopter, a cosy, two-seater Robinson R22 Alpha is considered a work vehicle and used to monitor the 640-acre ranch, but it’s clear he relishes any opportunity to fly. “We will have no fun at all,” he deadpans.
McDaniel and his wife, Melissa Owen, bought their ranch and the 100-year-old adobe house that came with it in 2003. Years before, Owen began volunteering at the nearby Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, and fell in love with the beauty and natural diversity of the area, as well as the quiet of their tiny town. That all changed last July when construction vehicles and large machinery started “barrelling down the two-lane state road”, says Owen.
Azar calls attack ‘assault on our democracy’ and urges peaceful transfer of power in formal resignation letter
The US health secretary, Alex Azar, warned Donald Trump in a letter that last week’s attack on the Capitol threatened the administration’s legacy, and he urged the president to support a peaceful transfer of power.
In the two-page, formal resignation letter, dated 12 January, Azar recited what he saw as the administration’s key accomplishments but voiced concern that last week’s siege in Washington and Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud “threaten to tarnish these and other historic legacies of this administration”.
Jenna Ryan, a Texas real estate broker who took a private jet to Washington to join the attack on the US Capitol, pleaded with Donald Trump to pardon her after she was arrested by federal authorities. Ryan said she thought she was following what her president ‘asked us to do’ and that she had been 'displaying my patriotism' in travelling to Washington DC, where she filmed herself entering the Capitol building. 'I'm facing a prison sentence,' she told CBS 11 News at her home in Dallas. 'I do not deserve that'
Donald Trump has become the first president in US history to be impeached twice after the bipartisan vote in the House of Representative accusing him of inciting violence at the Capitol on 6 January.
Trump has faced impeachment before, but for very different reasons. On 18 December 2019 the House charged him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and withholding military aid
Diaspora of expats voice loyalty, but also withering disgust over Capitol storming – and fatigue
Watching history unfold in Washington DC from her home in London, Jan Halper-Hayes admitted to being slightly incredulous about the images of Donald Trump supporters storming the US Capitol.
“It was kind of in some ways unbelievable,” says the long-term activist in the Republican party and former vice-president of its UK branch. She claims she has received “good information” to indicate that “Antifa people” were present at the riot.
The House of Representatives has voted 232 to 197 to impeach the US president, Donald Trump, for a second time, formally charging him with inciting an insurrection. It was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in US history.
After an emotional day-long debate in the chamber, 10 Republicans joined Democrats to hold Trump to account before he leaves office next week.
The US House of Representatives voted by a margin of 232 to 197 to impeach Donald Trump on the charge of incitement of insurrection, making him the first president in history to have been impeached twice. Ten House Republicans voted in favour of the motion
The Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives has opened the debate on the article of impeachment against Donald Trump, arguing the president must be removed from office. Describing the storming of the Capitol as a 'day of fire', Nancy Pelosi said Trump had incited insurrection
Nancy Pelosi has accused Donald Trump of associating himself with sedition and treason in a strong statement calling for the removal of the president through impeachment after a failed call for enactment of the 25th amendment.
The final vote on Tuesday night was 223 to 205, with only one Republican backing the non-binding resolution that asked Mike Pence, the vice-president, to declare Trump 'incapable' under the 25th amendment
The rancorous four-year administration of Donald Trump will reach its denouement on Wednesday with the twice-impeached president committing one final act of enmity: dropping a match to ignite a civil war inside his Republican party.
These have been 10 days that shook America and the world. Congress has made the right response
The wheels of justice are slowly but remorselessly closing in on Donald Trump and his gang. Mr Trump’s second impeachment is unprecedented in two extraordinary ways. No other president in American history has been institutionally censured with a second impeachment. Mr Trump must now carry this unique double burden of disgrace into history. But the second impeachment has also been the most rapidly crafted of them all. That is because, unlike its predecessors, it is an urgent response to a clear and present danger to American democracy.
Only last week, Mr Trump was still actively using the presidential bully pulpit to promote his lies about the 2020 election result and urge his supporters to march on the US Capitol to challenge the vote. Today, rightly cut off from his social media following and in the wake of a 232-197 congressional vote against him on Wednesday, he is ineluctably becoming a humbled – though never a humble – figure. Mr Trump remained defiant and mendacious in a White House video this week, but he now faces a second Senate trial and the very real prospect, if he is found guilty, of being barred from holding office ever again. This is not the future that Mr Trump planned for himself.
Large parts of America were shocked at the invasion of the US Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. But Black athletes see such outrages all the time
The silence has been deafening on the right. From the right-wing evangelicals who had prayed for Donald Trump to be reelected, to the All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter crowds, to the Kaepernick haters and those who denigrated Black Lives Matter as violent thugs. In the wake of a mob of Trump supporters invading the US Capitol in an attempted coup on Wednesday, the same people who rushed to condemn peaceful protests against racism are either silent or ludicrously blame the scenes on antifa.
The suspension of Donald Trump’s accounts sparked outrage among conservatives but the prevailing mood is for greater regulation
Nationals MP Anne Webster and Labor MP Sharon Claydon are less concerned with why Donald Trump was taken off social media, and more concerned with what platforms such as Facebook are doing to stop online defamation and abuse.
Webster and Claydon are the co-chairs of the Parliamentary Friends of Making Social Media Safe, a group to “highlight the environment of social media and the risks associated” and to make the platforms more accountable. It now boasts more than 50 members thanks partly to Twitter and Facebook’s response to last week’s attack on the US Capitol.
Actor tweets that he is ‘sold’ on idea of digitally replacing Trump with an older version of Culkin himself
Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin has endorsed social media comments demanding Donald Trump’s cameo in the film’s sequel be digitally removed and replaced with one of an older version of Culkin himself.
Culkin replied to a tweet that asked “petition to digitally replace trump in ‘home alone 2’ with 40-year-old macaulay culkin” with the single word: “Sold.” Culkin then followed up by responding “Bravo” to another tweet that contained a comic edit of Trump replaced by empty space.
Bank had propped up Trump Organization for years despite being sued by president but acted after Capitol attack
Deutsche Bank became the latest large company to cut ties with Donald Trump, with the firm that has propped up the Trump Organization for two decades reportedly announcing it would no longer do business with the disgraced president.