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A Capitol coup attempt?

A Capitol coup attempt?


A congressional committee is investigating what happened on January 6th 2021 and in the days leading up to the attack on the Capitol. This is what it has uncovered so far.

“We will never give up, we will never concede. It doesn’t happen, you don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”

Donald Trump

[Clip: actuality from the Capitol riots]

You don’t need me to tell you that January 6th 2021 was a shocking moment for the United States of America. 

On the day that Congress was due to ratify Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to stop the results being confirmed.

“At this hour, our democracy is under an unprecedented assault… unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times. An assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself.”

Joe Biden

In the aftermath, a few things were clear: Donald Trump had done and said things that day that had incited the mob, and it took him hours to do anything to try to calm things down. 

But what we didn’t know was what exactly had gone on in the lead up to January 6th – and in the weeks afterwards. 

Politicians, the press and the public wanted to know how this attack on America’s institutions had happened. And they wanted to make sure that nothing like it could happen again. 


In July 2021, a group of Congressmen and women joined up to form a committee charged with investigating what happened on and around that day.

In the months since then, they’ve gathered thousands of pages of evidence, interviewed hundreds of people, issued dozens of subpoenas, and challenged several Trump allies who have refused to cooperate. 

One thing they wanted to find out was to what extent people in Donald Trump’s inner circle – and even Trump himself – could be held accountable for the events of January 6th. 

And through that process new evidence is coming to light about what people close to the president were saying and doing.

“The messages really give an extraordinary glimpse at how Meadows was doing Trump’s bidding, how they were trying to overturn the election…”


Last week, CNN got hold of 2,319 texts sent to and from Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s chief of staff in the White House, between election day in 2020 and Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021. 

He’d handed over the message logs to the investigation committee at the end of last year. 

What the messages show is pretty extraordinary: they reveal that Mark Meadows – a close adviser through whom people could get in touch with the president– was getting messages from members of Donald Trump’s family, Republican politicians and other close allies and advisors.

In the days after Donald Trump lost the election in November 2020, there was fighting talk from his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who texted: 

Quote: “You are all WARRIORS of epic proportions! Keep the faith and the fight!”

Then, as the day to certify the election results drew closer, Donald Trump’s allies started asking how they might be able to challenge the election results in Congress. 

On New Year’s Eve 2021, Marjorie Taylor Greene – a far-right Republican candidate who was newly elected in Georgia – sent Mark Meadows a text saying, quote, “We have to get organized for the 6th,” end quote. 

The plan was to overturn the election results by objecting to the certification process in Congress, but her texts also show that she found the riot at the Capitol beyond the pale. 

She heard rumours on the day that there was an active shooter at the Capitol building and texted Mark Meadows saying, quote, “Please tell the President to calm people. This isn’t the way to solve anything,” end quote.

The violence in Washington DC was not enough to deter her though from encouraging more interference.

 A few days before Joe Biden was due to be inaugurated as president – Marjorie Taylor Greene sent another text to Mark Meadows. 

“In our private chat with only members, Green wrote to Meadows, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for martial law.”

abc News

Marjorie Taylor Greene suggested that President Trump should bring in the army to overturn the election result and stop Joe Biden taking office.

The January 6th committee has amassed mountains of evidence about the circumstances surrounding the insurrection. 

The Mark Meadows texts are just one slice of that – and they don’t even give us the whole picture. He stopped cooperating with the investigation and failed to hand over around a thousand more messages to the committee, claiming he had protection under President Trump’s executive privilege. 

But even with all of the obstructions from Donald Trump’s allies, the January 6th committee is building up a base of evidence that will show, in granular detail, what he and his closest conspirators were planning after the 2020 election. 

In his new Tortoise podcast called The Backstory, Andrew Neil talks to Fiona Hill, who advised President Trump on national security. She thinks it’s clear what was happening:

Andrew Neil: “Was Jan 6th 2021 an attempted coup?”

Fiona Hill: “Of course it was and it was so obvious… and I think, you know, what is critical now is the Jan 6th committee in the US, all the information they are uncovering, you know I think we look at that evidence and the statements committee members have made so far we can see that we came, we the United States came, incredibly close to still having Trump in power having usurped power and prevented the constitutional transfer of executive authority.”

Fiona Hill speaking on The Backstory, Tortoise


In the next phase of the January 6th inquiry, we’ll be able to watch and listen to evidence about what Donald Trump and his allies did. 

Hearings are due to start in June and Jamie Raskin, a Democrat member of the investigation committee, told an event in Washington DC that what will be revealed will be astonishing:

“The hearings will tell a story that will really blow the roof off the house because it is the story of the most heinous and dastardly political offence ever organised by a president and his followers and his entourage in the history of the United States.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin

Today’s story was written and produced by Ella Hill.