- The Washington Times
Monday, January 3, 2022

The first anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot will be a solemn day of reflection across Washington on Thursday with press conferences, candlelit vigils and a moment of silence to be held on Capitol Hill.

However, the reflections on the riot and the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob will be mired in partisan politics and competing narratives.

“We’ll see a greater intensity of a framing battle than we’ve really seen since the incident itself,” said Jacob Neiheisel, a political science professor at the University of Buffalo.

The rioters sought to stop Congress from certifying President Biden’s election victory and delivered a seismic shock to Washington, where the party in power keeps a spotlight on events of Jan. 6 and probes whether it was a plot to overthrow the government.

At the Capitol on Thursday, Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will make remarks that are expected to frame Jan. 6 as an attack on democracy and part of an ongoing threat against democracy.

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump will hold a press conference at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. He is expected to defend the rioters, discredit the House Jan. 6 committee and repeat his disproven claim that the Nov. 3, 2020, election was stolen from him — the same claim that fueled the riot.

“They don’t think they’ll be held accountable for rigging the 2020 presidential election,” Mr. Trump said in a recent statement released by his Save America PAC. “The Jan. 6 Unselect Committee is a coverup for what took place on November 3rd, and the people of our country won’t stand for it.”

Rich Meagher, a political science professor at Randolph-Macon College, said the first anniversary will be the most significant, but the riot will remain a political flashpoint centering around Mr. Trump for years to come.

“It’s really tied to Trump,” Mr. Meagher said. “As long as he remains a powerful figure in American politics, I think that this date will matter more than it will once Trump goes away.”

Several people died during the riot, but Trump supporter and Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt suffered the only violent death. A U.S. Capitol Police officer shot and killed her as she attempted to enter the Speaker’s Lobby adjacent to the House chamber.

The riot also witnessed the deaths of three other Trump supporters: two of heart attacks and the third from a drug overdose. After the clashing with rioters outside the Capitol, a Capitol Police officer died of a stroke, which the medical examiner deemed a death from natural causes.

More than 700 people were arrested and over 200 charged in connection to the riot for offenses such as trespassing and obstructing official business.

One year later, liberals and conservatives will mark the day in different ways, whether using the anniversary to push for new Democratic election laws or to champion imprisoned Jan. 6 rioters.

House Democrats will commemorate the anniversary as a day of mourning. A prayer and moment of silence will be held on the House floor that will be followed by a program titled “historic perspective” in which Washington historians discuss the significance of Jan. 6.

Members will give testimonials in the late afternoon led by Rep. Jason Crow, Colorado Democrat.

The day’s official ceremonies will end with a vigil at dusk on the Capitol steps where members of the House and Senate will join in an observance of the day in prayer and music.

“These events are intended as an observance of reflection, remembrance, and recommitment, in a spirit of unity, patriotism and, prayerfulness,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California wrote in a letter to fellow Democratic members of Congress.

Mrs. Pelosi also thanked members for their “patriotism and courage” in preparation for the “difficult day.”

GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik said no Republican leaders are planning to attend the events led by Democrats.

“Our leadership does not intend to participate. Nor was there an invitation to participate in any of the panels,” Ms. Stefanik said in a press call on Monday.

Republicans don’t have scheduled events of their own planned, but they are using the anniversary to stress that the Democrat-led House select committee investigating the riot is a partisan sham.

In a letter sent out to his conference this week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called Jan. 6 a day that was “lawless and as wrong as wrong can be.”

But Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, also said his Democratic colleagues are politicizing the riot to gain an advantage in an election year.

“Unfortunately, one year later, the majority party seems no closer to answering the central question of how the Capitol was left so unprepared and what must be done to ensure it never happens again,” Mr. McCarthy wrote. “Instead, they are using it as a partisan political weapon to further divide our country.”

Elsewhere, more than 100 liberal groups, including Women’s March and Progressive Democrats of America, will hold vigils on the National Mall in Washington to urge lawmakers to pass voting rights legislation.

“In addition to a slate of events from the White House and Speaker Pelosi marking one year since the attacks on the U.S. Capitol, people across race, place, party, and background are holding candlelight vigils to say: In America, the voters decide the outcome of elections,” the liberal activist group Public Citizen said in a statement.

Conservative group Look Ahead America is also organizing a candlelight vigil in state capitals across the U.S. to support those charged in connection to the riot, demanding due process and humane jail conditions.

Matt Braynard, executive director of the group and former Trump campaign operative, asked people to participate to “stand in solidarity with all of those who have been politically persecuted.”

• Mica Soellner can be reached at msoellner@washingtontimes.com.

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