WASHINGTON – Rioters smash through Capitol windows and doors. Former President Donald Trump tweets that Vice President Mike Pence lacks courage as a mob ransacks the building. A rioter is shot dead outside the House chamber. National Guard reinforcements arrive hours after pleas for help.
These are among the dots the House committee investigating the Capitol attack Jan. 6, 2021, connected in a series of nine hearings on its findings this year. The committee is winding down its 18-month investigation with a final hearing Monday and plans to make its report public on Wednesday.
In particular, the panel focused on the 187 minutes between Trump’s speech near the White House and a tweeted video urging his supporters to “go home and go home in peace.” Lawmakers wanted to know what Trump did or did not do during this period – 1:10 p.m. to 4:17 p.m. EDT – when Trump remained largely secluded and family members and staff urged him and his staff to quell the violence that grew out of control.
Cassidy Hutchinson's 'combustible' testimony: Surprise Jan. 6 witness, quietly drops bombshells
Here is what we know about each minute of Trump's time out of the public eye that day:
Trump finishes his speech near the White House.
“We fight like hell, and if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said. “So we are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue – I love Pennsylvania Avenue – and we are going to the Capitol.”
Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that security officials had briefed Trump and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows before the speech that people near the Ellipse, where the speech took place, were carrying AR-15-style rifles and Glock-style pistols. Hutchinson testified that Trump was "furious" that people carrying weapons were being kept out of the rally.
“I don’t care that they have effing weapons,” Hutchinson quoted Trump as saying before the speech. “They're not here to hurt me.”
As protesters began marching to the Capitol, Hutchinson testified that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called her while she was still in the tent behind where Trump spoke.
McCarthy "sounded rushed, but also frustrated and angry at me," Hutchinson said. "He then explained the president just said he's marching to the Capitol. 'You told me this whole week you aren't coming up here. Why would you lie to me?'"
As Trump’s motorcade headed back to the White House, the president, sitting in the back of his car nicknamed "the beast,” reached forward to try to grab the steering wheel in frustration that he wouldn't be heading to the Capitol, Hutchinson testified she was told by White House deputy chief of staff for operations Anthony Ornato.
"The president said something to the effect of: ‘I am the f---ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” Hutchinson quoted Ornato as telling her. A Secret Service official told USA TODAY Ornato and Bobby Engel, the former head of Trump's Secret Service security detail, are prepared to challenge aspects of Hutchinson's account before the committee.
Trump disputed her account, calling it "sick and fraudulent."
An unnamed participant posts a video from the attack in a secure chat of the Oath Keepers, a militia group whose members have been charged in the attack. The video caption says: "American blood (blood drop icon) in the Capitol steps. Officers down," according to court records.
Trump is photographed in the Oval Office, still wearing his overcoat from his speech. Retired Metropolitan Police Sgt. Mark Robison said police waited with the motorcade outside the White House for at least 45 minutes while Trump insisted on going to the Capitol.
Trump moved to the dining room off the Oval Office, where he remained until about 4 p.m., watching television coverage of the Capitol attack, according to committee member, Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va.
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers who was later charged with seditious conspiracy, sends a message: "Pence is doing nothing. As I predicted."
Capitol police order the evacuation of the Library of Congress, Madison Building and Cannon House Office Building across from the Capitol.
Joseph Biggs, a member of the far-right group the Proud Boys who was later charged with seditious conspiracy in the attack, records a video of himself saying, “So we just stormed the Capitol.” And he said, “January 6 will be a day in infamy," according to court records.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser calls Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy to request "additional forces to respond to the Capitol," according to a Defense Department timeline.
Bowser approves a citywide curfew starting at 6 p.m. and ending at 6 a.m. , according to a timeline from the city government. The curfew is announced at 2:28 p.m.
A message in the Oath Keepers chat says, "Flash grenades / explosions going off now at Capitol Grounds," according to court records.
Rhodes texts: "All I see Trump doing is complaining. I see no intent by him to do anything. So the patriots are taking it into their own hands. They've had enough," according to court records.
Trump calls personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and speaks for 4 minutes while Fox News plays in the background, an Air Force veteran describing her disgust with Vice President Mike Pence. The White House call logs have no record of Trump’s calls for this period, but press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump asked for a list of senators to call.
Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., tweets her evacuation from her office because of a suspected bomb after pipe bombs were found that morning outside the Democratic and Republican national committees.
"I just had to evacuate my office because of a pipe bomb reported outside. Supporters of the President are trying to force their way into the Capitol and I can hear what sounds like multiple gunshots."
The D.C. Metro Police Department declares a riot at the Capitol and Bowser speaks with the Army secretary, according to the city's timeline. Television video shows rioters breaking through the police lines and bicycle racks at that time.
Trump tweets a video of his speech.
Soon after 2 p.m., Trump mistakenly calls Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, while trying to reach Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., according to Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., who described the call during Trump’s impeachment trial. Lee hands the phone to Tuberville. Trump calls for a delay in the counting of Electoral College votes but is interrupted when lawmakers have to evacuate the Senate chamber, Cicilline said.
Benjamin Williamson, a deputy assistant to Trump and senior adviser to Meadows, texts the chief of staff: "Would recommend POTUS put out a tweet about respecting police over at the Capitol -- getting a little hairy over there," according to court records.
Trump calls Giuliani again and speaks for 8 minutes.
Two messages in an Oath Keepers chat say: "Tear gas at the capital. Several officers hurt" and "Patriots in capital," according to court records.
Dominic Pezzola, a member of the Proud Boys later charged with seditious conspiracy in the attack, allegedly breaks a Capitol window with a police riot shield, which allows the first members of the mob into the building, according to court records.
The Senate recesses, interrupting Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., debating an objection to Arizona’s electors.
As Secret Service agents hustle Pence to an underground parking garage, his counsel, Greg Jacob, emails Trump lawyer John Eastman to say "thanks to your bull----, we are now under siege.” Eastman had spearheaded a plan to keep Trump in power by encouraging some states Joe Biden won to choose alternate electors that supported Trump.
Hutchinson said White House counsel Pat Cipollone came barreling down the hallway a minute after the Capitol was breached and rushed in to confront Meadows. “I remember Pat saying to him something to the effect of, the rioters have gotten to the Capitol, Mark,” Hutchinson testified. “We need to go down and see the president now. And Mark looked up at him and said, 'He doesn't want to do anything, Pat.'”
Eastman sends Jacob an email: "The 'siege' is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so the American people can see for themselves what happened.”
Pence evacuates the Senate chamber. Security video shows rioters dispersing clouds of smoke outside the Senate chamber. Security officials confer and say they have a narrow path for Pence to escape.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., tweets about lawmakers being locked in the House chamber. She had earlier tweeted at 8:30 a.m.: "Today is 1776."
Donald Trump Jr. tweets: "This is wrong and not who we are. Be peaceful and use your 1st Amendment rights, but don’t start acting like the other side. We have a country to save and this doesn’t help anyone."
The House recesses briefly, interrupting Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., debating an objection to Arizona’s electors.
Boebert tweets that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was evacuated.
At a time the committee hasn't publicly disclosed, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks with Trump by phone after the mob breached the building, according to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., who said she would have testified about the call under oath during Trump's impeachment trial. McCarthy asked Trump "to publicly and forcefully call off the riot," Beutler said. When McCarthy insisted the mob was made up of the president's supporters, Trump told the top House Republican, "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are."
Rioters breach the Senate chamber doors.
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund joins a conference call pleading for National Guard reinforcements from Maj. Gen. William Walker, commander of the D.C. National Guard, and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, the Army staff director, according to the D.C. timeline. But Sund told a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing in February 2021 that Piatt replied: "I don't like the visual of the National Guard standing a line with the Capitol in the background."
Secret Service says Capitol does not sound good right now. "There were calls to say goodbye to family members," an unnamed national security official told committee members. Members of Pence's detail "were starting to fear for their own lives," the official said.
Explosions are heard on the Rotunda steps.
As violence unfolds on live television, Trump tweets debunked election fraud claims: "Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!"
Trump pressured Pence to use a flawed legal theory to reject electors Biden won to help hand him the election, even though Pence told the president repeatedly that he couldn't because it would be unconstitutional.
Rioters erect a gallows outside the Capitol, and members of the mob chant "Hang Mike Pence."
Immediately after the tweet went out, Hutchinson shows it to Meadows. She testified that Cipollone told Meadows that Trump needed to act. But Meadows replied: "He thinks Mike deserves it," Hutchinson said. "He doesn't think they're doing anything wrong."
Pence is evacuated from his initial refuge – about 40 feet ahead of rioters – and taken to a more secure location. Outside the Capitol, rioters engage in hand-to-hand combat with police.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., texts Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows: "Mark I was just told there is an active shooter on the first floor of the Capitol Please tell the President to calm people This isn't the way to solve anything."
Unidentified participant in the Oath Keepers chat messages: "WeThePpl have taken the Capitol - Congress forced to recess," according to court records.
After the House resumes for the conclusion of Gosar’s remarks, the House recesses.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham texts Meadows: "Hey Mark, The president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home." A second text says, "This is hurting all of us."
C-SPAN, which televised the congressional debate, shows rioters walking through Statuary Hall near the House chamber.
White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney texts Meadows: "Mark: he needs to stop this, now. Can I do anything to help?"
Trump tweets: “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys who was charged with seditious conspiracy in the attack but wasn’t at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, posts on social media: “Don’t f---ing leave,” according to court records.
Ali Alexander, who organized the Stop the Steal rally, tells another organizer, “POTUS is not ignorant of what his words do.” Jessica Watkins, a member of the Oath Keepers later charged with seditious conspiracy, tells others through a walkie-talkie: “I hope they understand that we are not joking around.” She adds, “We are in the main dome right now. We are rocking it. They are throwing grenades. They are friggin’ shooting people with paint balls. But we’re in here.”
Unidentified participant in the Oath Keepers chat messages: "They are reporting tear gas (or pepper spray) deployed INSIDE the Rotunda - not sure at this point," according to court records.
Tarrio, the Proud Boys leader, posts “yep” on social media, in response to the question: “Are we a militia yet?” according to court records. “Make no mistake,” Tarrio posts. “We did this.”
Bowser declares a state of emergency, according to the city's timeline.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., texts Meadows: "It's really bad up here on the hill." Another message: "They have breached the Capitol."
Rioters enter Senate galleries and walk onto the Senate floor a few minutes later.
Ashli Babbitt is shot and mortally wounded by police while trying to climb through the broken window of a door to the Speaker's Lobby, just off the House floor. Officers had barricaded the doors with furniture, but rioters broke through the glass at gunpoint. Capitol police cleared the officer of wrongdoing and the use of deadly force "potentially saved Members and staff from serious injury and possible death."
Rep. William Timmons, R-S.C., texts Meadows: "The president needs to stop this ASAP." Meadows replies: "We are doing it."
Meadows texts Loudermilk: "POTUS is engaging." Loudermilk replies: "Thanks. This doesn't help our cause."
Meadows texts Timmons: "We are doing it."
Donald Trump Jr. texts Meadows: "He's got to condem this s---. Asap. The captiol police tweet is not enough." Meadows replies a minute later: "I am pushing it hard. I agree."
Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., tweets about his evacuation.
"I'm safe. We've been equipped with escape hoods and we're being moved through the Capitol."
Dozens of House members and staffers are escorted from the chamber, according to the city's timeline.
Bowser speaks with Meadows, according to the city's timeline.
Tarrio, the Proud Boys leader, posts “1776” on social media and, “Revolutionaries are now in the Rayburn building,” according to court records, referring to a House office building.
Donald Trump Jr. texts Meadows: "This his one you go to the mattresses on. They will try to f--- his entire legacy on this if it gets worse."
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, texts Meadows: "This is a s---show."
Rioters are photographed in the Senate chamber.
Hutchinson testified that about 3 p.m. the White House counsel’s office was drafting a statement for Trump to make that was never issued. After Meadows met with White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, he dictated phrases for the statement such as “illegal” and “without proper authority,” which Hutchinson said she wrote on a chief of staff note card, though Herschmann has said he wrote the note.
Later that afternoon, Meadows returned from the Oval Office dining room with the phrase “illegally” crossed out, but Hutchinson said he told her they didn’t need to take further action on the statement. “White House counsel's office wanted there to be a strong statement out to condemn the rioters,” Hutchinson said. “I'm confident in that.”
Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., texts Meadows: "POTUS needs to calm this s--- down."
Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who said he became aware the Capitol's perimeter was breached between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., authorizes the activation and mobilization of National Guard troops to reinforce local police. But the operational plan isn't approved until 4:32 p.m. and troops don't arrive at the Capitol until 5:20 p.m., according to the Defense Department timeline. Miller testified at a House Oversight and Reform hearing in May 2021 that he didn't speak with Trump that day. Miller said he spoke with Pence briefly at 4:08 p.m. and at 4:32 p.m. to discuss the situation.
Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus texts Meadows: "TELL THEM TO GO HOME !!!"
Stewart Rhodes of the Oath Keepers exchanges encrypted messages with an unnamed recipient who said Rep. Ronnie Jackson, R-Texas, needed protection, according to court records. "Give him my cell," Rhodes replied. Jackson, who was elected to the House after serving as Trump's White House physician, denied knowing the Oath Keepers.
Former White House communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin, who resigned a month before the riot, texts Meadows: "Potus has to come out firmly and tell protestors to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed."
Trump tweets: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, texts Meadows: "Fix this now."
McCarthy, the Army secretary, speaks with Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and tells them about the approval of mobilizing the D.C. National Guard, according to testimony at a House hearing.
Meadows replies to Roy: "We are."
Fox News host Sean Hannity texts Meadows: "Can he make a statement. I saw the tweet. Ask people to peacefully leave the capital."
Meadows replies to Hannity: "On it."
Katrina Pierson, a former Trump campaign spokesperson, texts Meadows: "Note: I was able to keep the crazies off the stage. I stripped all branding of those nutty groups and removed videos of all of the psychos. Glad I fought it."
Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump's campaign, texts Meadows and deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino: "Call me crazy, but ideas for two tweets from POTUS: 1) Bad apples, likely ANTIFA or other crazed leftists, infiltrated today's peaceful protest over the fraudulent vote count. Violence is never acceptable! MAGA supporters embrace our police and the rule of law and should leave the Capitol now! 2) The fake news media who encouraged this summer's violent and radical riots are now trying to blame peaceful and innocent MAGA supporters for violent actions. This isn't who we are! Our people should head home and let the criminals suffer the consequences!"
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., texts Meadows: "Mark we don't think these attackers are our people. We think they are Antifa. Dressed like Trump supporters."
FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee in March 2021 that the agency found no evidence of anti-fascist protesters involved in the Capitol attack.
“We have not to date seen any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to antifa in connection with the 6th," Wray said. "That doesn't mean we're not looking, and we'll continue to look, but at the moment we have not seen that.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, texts Meadows: "Cap Police told me last night they'd been warned that today there'd be a lot of Antifa dressed in red Trump shirts & hats & would likely get violent. Good that Trump denounces violence but could add & well demand justice for those who became violent & well get to the bottom of what group they're with."
Trump moves to the Rose Garden, where he records the statement telling his supporters to go home.
President-elect Joe Biden delivers a speech saying "at this hour our democracy is under unprecedented assault, unlike anything we've seen in modern times, an assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself." He added: "It borders on sedition and it must end now."
Donald Trump Jr. texts Meadows: "We need an oval address. He has to lead now. It's gone too far and gotten out of hand."
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, tweets a series of messages criticizing the riot.
"What is occurring right now at the Capitol is completely unacceptable. In America, we have the right to peacefully assemble and protest. But, we do not, under any circumstances, have the right to violently storm government buildings and threaten the safety of our police officers and our fellow citizens. The disturbing violence being reported must stop immediately, and anyone participating in such violent acts must be held accountable."
Pence, who was not in the military chain of command, speaks with Christopher Miller, the acting defense secretary, about the need to "clear the Capitol" of rioters, according to testimony at a House hearing.
Meadows texts Duncan, the congressman from South Carolina: "He is doing everything."
Donald Trump Jr. texts Meadows: "Now Biden beating us to the punch."
Biden issues a tweet telling rioters to go home.
"Let me be very clear: the scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not represent who we are. What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent, it's disorder. It borders on sedition, and it must end. Now."
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., texts Meadows: "We need to hear from the president. On TV. I hate that Biden jumped him on it."
Trump tweets a video urging supporters to go home while repeating baseless claims he won the election.
“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt," he said. "But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time.”
The Senate reassembles at 8:06 p.m. and the House at 9:02 p.m., after police clear the building of rioters. Lawmakers make their way to the House and Senate chambers walking across shattered glass and past broken doors.
The count lasts hours longer as lawmakers tally votes and reject objections to electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania. Pence eventually declares Biden the winner and dissolves the joint session of Congress at 3:44 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2021.
Contributing: George Petras, Ramon Padilla and Veronica Bravo