For weeks, President Trump and his supporters had been proclaiming Jan. 6, 2021, as a day of reckoning. A day to collect in Washington to “save America” and “cease the steal” of the election he had decisively misplaced, however which he nonetheless maintained — usually by means of a poisonous brew of conspiracy theories — that he had gained by a landslide.

And when that day got here, the president rallied 1000’s of his supporters with an incendiary speech. Then a big mob of these supporters, many waving Trump flags and carrying Trump regalia, violently stormed the Capitol to take over the halls of presidency and ship elected officers into hiding, fearing for his or her security.

But when the chaos within the Capitol shocked the nation, one of the crucial disturbing points of this most annoying day was that it could possibly be seen coming. The president himself had all however circled it on the nation’s calendar.

“Massive protest in D.C. on January sixth,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Dec. 19, simply one in all a number of of his tweets selling the day. “Be there, will likely be wild!”

And his supporters took the president at his phrase.

“In case you are not ready to make use of power to defend civilization, then be ready to simply accept barbarism,” a member of the Crimson-State Secession group on Fb posted on Tuesday, the eve of the appointed day, Jan. 6.

Beneath it, dozens of individuals posted feedback that included images of the weaponry — together with assault rifles — that they stated they deliberate to deliver to the rally. There have been additionally feedback referring to “occupying” the Capitol and forcing Congress to overturn the November election that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had gained — and Mr. Trump had misplaced.

Renée DiResta, a researcher who research on-line actions on the Stanford Web Observatory, stated that the violent disruption on the Capitol on Wednesday was the results of on-line actions working in closed social media networks the place claims of voter fraud and a stolen election discovered oxygen.

“This can be a demonstration of the very real-world influence of echo chambers,” Ms. DiResta stated.

The roots of one of many darkest moments in American democracy reached a minimum of way back to Nov. 4, the day after the presidential election that Mr. Trump would decisively lose to Mr. Biden. On that day, the primary Cease the Steal group was fashioned on Fb — and it shortly took off, realizing at one level 100 new members each 10 seconds. The group swelled to 320,000 followers earlier than Fb shut it down.

As a whole bunch of recent Cease the Steal teams continued to pop up, Fb turned extra aggressive in shutting them down, prompting some far-right supporters of Mr. Trump — together with some concerned in militias and conspiracy teams — to maneuver to new, less-restrictive social media websites, together with Parler and Gab. And it was on these websites {that a} motion to prepare a pro-Trump protest rally in Washington gathered momentum.

A number of right-wing activists, together with Ali Alexander, a Republican operative who was beforehand generally known as Ali Akbar, started to emerge as leaders of Cease the Steal. Their conspiracy theories and fact-free claims of electoral fraud carefully mirrored the identical baseless fees being leveled by Mr. Trump.

By mid-December, dozens of lawsuits filed by Trump supporters had failed, usually miserably. Then, on Dec. 14, Mr. Biden secured sufficient votes within the Electoral School to affirm his victory. The final formality earlier than his inauguration on Jan. 20 was the official depend by Congress of electoral votes, a professional forma ceremony of paperwork, to be overseen by Vice President Mike Pence.

On Jan. 6.

Mr. Alexander and others seized on the date, urging Trump supporters all over the place to converge onto the Capitol as Congress tended to what traditionally has been a glorified shuffling of papers — if generally infused with grace, as when Vice President Al Gore introduced the names of the winner, George W. Bush, and the loser: Al Gore.

The second has historically been seen as one other reassurance of the switch of energy within the Republic. However Mr. Trump and his supporters have been publicly framing this yr’s formality as legal, fraudulent — even treasonous.

As his aides and supporters did what they might to forestall the inevitable — a lawsuit by the Texas congressman Louie Gohmert, a 36-page report alleging election fraud by the Trump adviser Peter Navarro — Mr. Trump continued tweeting.

Dec. 27: “See you in Washington, DC, on January sixth. Don’t miss it. Info to observe.”


Jan. 1: “The BIG Protest Rally in Washington, D.C. will happen at 11:00 A.M. on January sixth. Locational particulars to observe. StopTheSteal!”

That very same day, a supporter misspelled the phrase “cavalry” in tweeting that “The calvary is coming, Mr. President!”

Mr. Trump responded: “An amazing honor!”

The subsequent day, Jan. 2, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and 11 different Republican senators joined one other Republican, Josh Hawley of Missouri — in addition to greater than 100 Republican members of the Home of Representatives — in vowing to object to the certification of Mr. Biden’s election.

By now, the intense fringes of Trump supporters — together with the Proud Boys and different teams recognized to incite violence, in addition to conspiracy teams like QAnon — have been exploring what they may do on Jan. 6 in Washington. On devoted chats in Gab they mentioned logistics of the place to collect and what streets they might take to the Capitol. The Crimson-State Secession Fb web page even inspired its 8,000 followers to share the addresses of “enemies,” together with these for federal judges, members of Congress and well-known progressives.

A way of the percolating hassle got here with a broadly circulated video of a Trump supporter confronting Senator Mitt Romney, the Utah Republican and a frequent Trump critic, at Salt Lake Worldwide Airport as he awaited a flight Tuesday to Washington. When the supporter requested why he hadn’t supported the president’s claims of electoral fraud, Mr. Romney stated that he would observe the Structure.

“I wouldn’t be shocked should you weren’t even voted in legally,” the individual stated as she adopted the senator to the gate. “You’re a joke, absolute joke, it’s a disgusting disgrace.”

In the meantime, members of the Crimson-State Secession Fb web page have been conversing within the language of rebel.

Then dawned Jan. 6, the day of reckoning. Hundreds gathered in downtown Washington, forming rivers of Trump purple that commingled the Trump and American flags. The group included between 2,000 and a couple of,500 members of the Proud Boys, based on Enrique Tarrio, the group’s chairman.

Any hope that Mr. Pence would block the congressional affirmation of Mr. Biden’s election — thereby acquiescing to immense stress being utilized by Mr. Trump — was dashed earlier than midday. Mr. Pence stated in a letter that the vice chairman didn’t have such energy.

“The presidency belongs to the American folks, and to them alone,” he wrote.

Then, at midday, Mr. Trump started to ship a speech to his excited followers.

Within the afternoon hours to come back, Mr. Trump would excoriate his vice chairman for not having “the braveness to do what ought to have been achieved to guard our Nation and our Structure.” Within the hours to come back, his supporters, carrying flags and carrying garments that bore his identify, would rush the Capitol in a terrifying swirl of chaos that might power a lockdown and go away one girl shot useless.

Amongst those that swarmed into the Capitol can be well-known QAnon characters and white supremacists. Jake Angeli, a QAnon supporter recognized for his painted face and horned hat, roamed the Senate flooring. Tim Gionet, a neo-Nazi conspiracy theorist generally known as “Baked Alaska,” would take over a Senate workplace.

However first got here the remarks of the president, delivered on the Ellipse, simply south of the White Home.

“We’ll by no means hand over,” he stated. “We’ll by no means concede. It’s going to by no means occur. You don’t concede when there’s theft concerned. Our nation has had sufficient. We is not going to take it anymore.”

Mr. Trump concluded his 70-minute exhortation by encouraging everybody to stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue to provide Republicans on the Capitol “the sort of delight and boldness that they should take again our nation.” Then the president of the US returned to the White Home, at secure distance from the mayhem to unfold.

Alan Feuer contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett and Jack Begg contributed analysis.


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