Jan. 6 hearing: Fast facts about the Capitol insurrection

Congress holds hearings on the January 6 riot in the US Capitol. Here’s what we know ahead of the hearings.

Beginning this week, the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol will go public with its findings. The series of six hearings, which will take place over the next few weeks, will begin with a prime-time session on June 9 at 8:00 p.m. EDT.

More than 1,000 people were interviewed by the nine-member panel, but only snippets of those statements have been released to the public, mostly through court filings. That will change on Thursday evening when the panel plans to give an overview of its 11-month investigation. Lawmakers also plan to testify and show a series of never-before-seen images and other evidence related to the preparation for the uprising and the attack itself.

Ahead of the hearings, here are four facts we can VERIFY related to the January 6 uprising.



Was the US Capitol ever attacked before the January 6 riot?


This is true.

Yes, the US Capitol was attacked before the January 6 riot.


The January 6 riot was the first large-scale occupation of the US Capitol since 1814, but there were other instances of violence at the Capitol, particularly throughout the 20th century.

During the War of 1812, the British Army entered Washington, DC, and their troops breached and burned down the Capitol on August 24, 1814, according to an online Senate history archive. British troops also set fire to the President’s Mansion and other local landmarks during the invasion. The Senate History Library says a torrential rainstorm was the only thing that saved the Capitol from total destruction during the attack.

More than 100 years after the attack on the Capitol in 1814, Erich Muenter, a former professor of German at Harvard University, came to Washington “to deliver an explosive message,” according to the Senate History Archives. On July 2, 1915, Muenter slipped quietly into the Capitol while cradling a small package containing three sticks of dynamite.

The Senate History Archives say Münter placed the package under the Senate switchboard and set the bomb’s timing mechanism to detonate a few minutes before midnight to “minimize casualties.” The bomb went off at twenty minutes to midnight, but no one was injured or killed. Muenter was eventually arrested a few days after the bombing and committed suicide in prison.

The Capitol was bombed on a few other occasions in the 20th century, including 1971 and 1983, but no one was injured in these attacks. However, there were two shootings in the Capitol in 1954 and 1998, in which several members of Congress were injured and two Capitol police officers died.

In 1954, the Capitol was attacked by four people from the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, according to the U.S. House of Representatives online archive. The four people were able to go onto the visitor gallery overlooking the chamber with handguns. They opened fire, injuring five members of Congress. Nobody was killed in this attack.

In the 1998 attack, a gunman rushed past a Capitol security checkpoint, killing a Capitol police officer. He then exchanged gunfire with a Capitol police detective who was protecting a member of Congress, and the detective was mortally wounded.


Did Nancy Pelosi Play a Role in Deploying the National Guard to the US Capitol on January 6th?


That's wrong.

No, Nancy Pelosi played no part in the January 6 National Guard deployment.


In July 2021, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) hinted on Fox News that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) played a role in preventing the National Guard from to protect the US Capitol on January 6th.

in one Clip posted on TwitterMcCarthy asked, “Was there a decision by the Speaker not to have the National Guard in the Capitol that day?”

The Speaker of the House of Representatives does not have the authority to summon the National Guard to the US Capitol. This authority is vested in the Capitol Police Board, which is composed of the House Sergeant at Arms, the Senate Sergeant at Arms, and the Architect of the Capitol. They only asked the National Guard for assistance after the uprising had already begun.

Following this request, the National Guard was activated by Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, according to a January 8, 2021 press release. It took more than two and a half hours for troops to reach the Capitol and assist law enforcement.


Was the January 6 riot a completely unarmed protest?


That's wrong.

No, the uprising was not a totally unarmed protest.


One of the most popular claims in the days and months after the January 6 riot in the US Capitol was whether the rioters were armed. In February 2021, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) suggested January 6 was not an armed insurrection, according to news reports. Then, in May 2021, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) claimed there was no evidence the riot was an “armed riot.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has tracked individuals charged with federal crimes related to Jan. 6 events at the U.S. Capitol on its website. This list does not include individuals charged with crimes by any local jurisdiction.

VERIFY searched court records and found several people convicted or charged with assault for using any type of weapon during the riot. We found firearms and a range of makeshift weapons were used in the hand-to-hand combat, including crutches, flagpoles and stolen police batons, records say.

For example, on December 17, 2021, Robert Scott Palmer was served the harshest sentence of the protesters charged to date. According to DOJ records, he was seen throwing a fire extinguisher at police officers and was sentenced to five years in prison, including for assaulting a police officer.

As of June 8, 2022, the FBI still has a flyer on its website asking for the public’s assistance in finding a person accused of planting pipe bombs in Washington the night before the riot.


Does the public have the right to enter the US Capitol whenever they want?


That's wrong.

No, the Capitol is not public property and visitors are not guaranteed full access.


According to DOJ records, more than 860 people have been arrested for storming the US Capitol on Jan. 6, and many of them share a common charge: entering or staying in a restricted building or compound. The indictment itself prompted several people to take to social media to claim, “The Capitol is public property…therefore people have a right to be in it.”

Jane Campbell, president and CEO of the United States Historical Society, told VERIFY, “There was a time when anyone could enter the building.” But Campbell said that time was more than 70 years ago, and laws have been in since 1946 the books that regulate public access to the Capitol building.

In the 1970s, Congress tightened restrictions after a domestic terrorist group called the Weather Underground detonated a bomb in the Capitol, according to the FBI, and again in the late 1990s when a gunman stormed past a U.S. Capitol security checkpoint, killing two Capitols Police officers. Now the only public access to the Capitol is through the Visitor Center.

In a statement to VERIFY sister station WUSA, US Capitol Police said when it comes to the Jan. 6 riot, none of that matters.

“For the January 6 violations, it doesn’t matter whether the US Capitol is a public building or not. It was not open to the general public that day,” USCP said. “First because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Second, because of the joint session of Congress. The rioters broke the law the moment they crossed the police line.”

According to the General Services Administration (GSA), federal buildings are open to visitors from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with valid ID and a security check. But that’s not a blanket rule.

“Just as our freedom of speech doesn’t allow us to scream ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, neither can we come into the Capitol, disrupt the work of Congress, and destroy our most sacred place,” Campbell said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The VERIFY team works to separate fact from fiction so you can understand what is true and what is false. Please consider subscribing to our daily newsletter, text notifications and YouTube channel. You can also follow us on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn more “

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Alley Einstein

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