The January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol

The heavily armed, Trump-incited mob attack of Jan. 6, 2021, was an attack not just on the U.S. Capitol building, but also on democracy and the rule of law.

On the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress was meeting to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, a violent and heavily armed mob of supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. While lawmakers and staff were shepherded to secure locations or barricaded behind doors, the rioters pushed past severely outnumbered Capitol Police officers, breaking windows and vandalizing offices, many with disturbingly violent intentions toward members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence for their having refused to succumb to Trump’s attempts to overturn the election in his favor. Five people were killed, including one Capitol Police officer who was beaten by rioters.

The attempted coup was not the spontaneous work of a moment. “The invasion of the U.S. Capitol … was stoked in plain sight,” ProPublica reported, with Trump supporters having for weeks discussed openly their plans for a violent overthrow. Their goal of stopping the election certification, based on baseless conspiracy theories of widespread voter fraud, was encouraged by elected officials like Rep. Mo Brooks, Rep. Paul Gosar, Sen. Josh Hawley, and Sen. Ted Cruz. The biggest instigator, of course, was the president himself, who for months had fanned the flames of conspiracy and earlier that day urged the crowd to march to the Capitol and “fight.”

But beyond the important issue of who was complicit in inciting the seditious and violent attack, questions remain about how the mob was able to so easily breach Capitol security and why it took so long to secure the building. Just 1,400 Capitol Police officers were on duty at the time, and National Guardsmen didn’t arrive until hours after the invasion began. As Americans watched the rioters storm through the building, news reports circulated that the Pentagon — which has authority over the D.C. National Guard — and the president had initially denied requests for the deployment of Guardsmen

In the days following the attack, federal law enforcement did not brief the public. Information about the events was shared largely through media reports and interviews, in which various officials pointed fingers. Capitol Police — an agency with a budget larger than that of most major-city police forces — are part of the legislative branch, thus not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and have been heavily criticized in the past for not releasing information to the public.

As the public demands answers, American Oversight has filed FOIA requests with multiple agencies to learn more about how the federal government — including the Defense Department, the White House, and federal law enforcement agencies — responded to the mob attack. We’ve requested related communications and directives, as well as Jan. 6 call logs, of top officials at multiple agencies, and are also seeking any assessments about the threat of militia violence that were prepared in advance of the attack by the FBI, the Pentagon, or the Department of Homeland Security. We also requested the communications of top Defense and Army officials with Trump or Vice President Pence.

Related Documents

January 15, 2021

Records Request to West Virginia Legislature for Communications by Former State Delegate Derrick Evans

West Virginia House of Delegates
FOIA Request
January 12, 2021

FOIA to Multiple Agencies Seeking Militia Group Threat Analyses Ahead of Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
January 12, 2021

FOIA to DOD Seeking Communications with Vice President Pence on Day of Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
January 12, 2021

FOIA to Army Seeking Communications with Vice President Pence on Day of Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Defense, DOD - Department of the Army
FOIA Request
January 12, 2021

FOIA to DOD Seeking Communications with President Trump or Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Day of Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
January 12, 2021

FOIA to Army Seeking Communications with President Trump or Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Day of Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Defense, DOD - Department of the Army
FOIA Request
January 12, 2021

FOIA to Multiple Agencies Seeking Memos Placing Limits on D.C. National Guard Ahead of Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to DOD for Communications and Directives About Events at Capitol During Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to NGB for Communications and Directives About Events at Capitol During Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Defense, DOD - National Guard Bureau
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to Army for Communications and Directives About Events at Capitol During Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Defense, DOD - Department of the Army
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to DOJ for Communications and Directives About Events at Capitol During Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to ATF for Communications and Directives About Events at Capitol During Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

"DOJ - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives", Department of Justice
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to U.S. Marshals Service for Communications and Directives About Events at Capitol During Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Justice, DOJ - U.S. Marshals Service
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to FBI for Communications and Directives About Events at Capitol During Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to OLC for Communications and Directives About Events at Capitol During Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Justice, DOJ - Office of Legal Counsel
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to DHS for Communications and Directives About Events at Capitol During Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to FPS for Communications and Directives About Events at Capitol During Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Homeland Security, DHS - Federal Protective Service
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to USSS for Communications and Directives About Events at Capitol During Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of Homeland Security, DHS - United States Secret Service
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to NPS for Communications and Directives About Events at Capitol During Congressional Certification of 2020 Election Results

Department of the Interior, DOI - National Park Service
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to DOD Seeking Records of Call Logs from Jan. 6, 2021

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to NGB Seeking Records of Call Logs from Jan. 6, 2021

Department of Defense, DOD - National Guard Bureau
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to Army Seeking Records of Call Logs from Jan. 6, 2021

Department of Defense, DOD - Department of the Army
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Records of Call Logs from Jan. 6, 2021

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to ATF Seeking Records of Call Logs from Jan. 6, 2021

"DOJ - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives", Department of Justice
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to USMS Seeking Records of Call Logs from Jan. 6, 2021

Department of Justice, DOJ - U.S. Marshals Service
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to FBI Seeking Records of Call Logs from Jan. 6, 2021

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to OLC Seeking Records of Call Logs from Jan. 6, 2021

Department of Justice, DOJ - Office of Legal Counsel
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to DHS Seeking Records of Call Logs from Jan. 6, 2021

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to FPS Seeking Records of Call Logs from Jan. 6, 2021

Department of Homeland Security, DHS - Federal Protective Service
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to USSS Seeking Records of Call Logs from Jan. 6, 2021

Department of Homeland Security, DHS - United States Secret Service
FOIA Request
January 11, 2021

FOIA to NPS Seeking Records of Call Logs from Jan. 6, 2021

Department of the Interior, DOI - National Park Service
FOIA Request