In the six months since an angry pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, immense efforts have been made not only to find the rioters and hold them accountable, but also — and perhaps more important — to dig into the details of Jan. 6 and slowly piece together what actually happened that day.
Congressional committees have looked into police and intelligence failures. The Justice Department has launched a nationwide investigation that has now resulted in more than 500 arrests. And while Republicans in Congress blocked the formation of a blue-ribbon bipartisan committee, House Democrats are poised to appoint a smaller select committee.
Even now, however, Republican politicians and their allies in the media are still playing down the most brazen attack on a seat of power in modern American history. Some have sought to paint the assault as the work of mere tourists. Others, going further, have accused the F.B.I. of planning the attack in what they have described — wildly — as a false-flag operation.
The work of understanding Jan. 6 has been hard enough without this barrage of disinformation and, hoping to get to the bottom of the riot, The Times’s Visual Investigations team spent several months reviewing thousands of videos, many filmed by the rioters themselves and since deleted from social media. We filed motions to unseal police body-camera footage, scoured law enforcement radio communications, and synchronized and mapped the visual evidence.
What we have come up with is a 40-minute panoramic take on Jan. 6, the most complete visual depiction of the Capitol riot to date. In putting it together, we gained critical insights into the character and motivation of rioters by experiencing the events of the day often through their own words and video recordings. We found evidence of members of extremist groups inciting others to riot and assault police officers. And we learned how Donald J. Trump’s own words resonated with the mob in real time as they staged the attack.
It is painful to watch, but essential that we and the rest of the world know how close we came to losing this country’s government.