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Still No Evidence of Armed Insurrection on Jan. 6

Commentary

It almost seems like the narrative was created in advance.

As the nation’s capital descended into chaos on the afternoon of Jan. 6—including angry protests both inside and outside the Capitol building to object to Congress’s final certification of the 2020 election results—Democratic lawmakers were already spinning. “This is a violent insurrection,” Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-Fla.) wrote on Twitter at 3:40 p.m. as the mayhem escalated. “An attempted coup by Trump supporters at his encouragement.”

“This is how we make America great?” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), former chair of the Democratic National Committee, wrote at 3:09 p.m. ”Violence, storming the Capitol, attempting to block your duly elected successor by encouraging armed insurrection?” Lawmakers of both political parties echoed those sentiments throughout the day.

Less than 24 hours later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cemented the emerging storyline about the events of Jan. 6. “Yesterday, the President of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America, the gleeful desecration of the U.S. Capitol, which is the temple of our American democracy, and the violence targeting Congress are horrors that will forever stay in our nation’s history, instigated by the President of the United States,” Pelosi raged during a Jan. 7 press conference. “Justice will be done to those who carried out these acts, which were acts of sedition and acts of cowardice.”

The “armed insurrection” mantra was cited as key evidence in the Democrats’ second impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump.

But was it true? In February, I examined federal indictments filed against nearly 200 people charged in the Justice Department’s Capitol investigation, which top officials promised would be “unprecedented” in the agency’s history. At the time, only 14 people faced weapons violations. Items such as a helmet, riot shield, and pepper spray were described by government prosecutors as “dangerous or deadly weapons.”