Supporting President Trump and Democracy on Jan 6 Wasn’t ‘Insurrection’ – Harvard Study

Soldiers with the Maine Army National Guard, stand guard in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 2021. / Photo by U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Christopher Hal

ANALYSIS – Since the day after January 6, 2021, I have been saying that the violent riot at the Capitol, which I observed as a risk consultant not a participant, was outrageous, ‘ugly’ and ‘criminal.’

I denounced the violence in no uncertain terms. However, I also argued it wasn’t a coup, or an insurrection.

I have steadfastly stood by my position since, and documented FBI findings, and many other sources, that contradicted the deliberately false and partisan “insurrection” narrative.

And now a Harvard study appears to back me up.

It shows that only a very few of the rioters were motivated by a desire to start a ‘revolution’ or civil conflict.

The vast majority believed they were there to defend democracy and Trump’s election.

As The Western Journal reports:

According to the study conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, more than 40 percent of rioters were motivated by former President Donald Trump’s claims the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, as well as a desire to see him re-elected.

According to The Harvard Crimson, researchers found that 20.6 percent of rioters were motivated by wanting to support Trump, while another 20.6 percent of rioters cited Trump’s election claims as the reason they stormed the U.S. Capitol more than 18 months ago in a bid to thwart certification of now-President Joe Biden’s election.

None of these reasons qualifies as wanting to start an insurrection against the government nor have an unlawful coup.

To be precise, the study found that less than 8 percent of those rioters were motivated by a “desire to start a civil war or an armed revolution,” the Crimson reported.

“The documents show that Trump and his allies convinced an unquantifiable number of Americans that representative democracy in the United States was not only in decline, but in imminent, existential danger,” the study said.

In other words, most of those who breached the Capitol believed they were there to defend America’s democracy – the exact opposite of “insurrection.”

As someone who has seen up close real insurrections, revolution, and political violence overseas, this wasn’t it.

As TWJ writes: “An insurrection has traditionally been defined as an organized attempt by a group of people to defeat their government and take control of their country, usually by violence.”

Legal scholar Jonathan Turley,  a professor at George Washington University,  wrote in his online column that the study showed the attack, while at times violent, was not a serious, organized attempt to take over the U.S. government.

He says, “It was clear that this was a protest that became a riot.”

Turley added something which I have also been repeating since day one, that most of the tens of thousands of people who showed up in the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, 2021, only wanted to peacefully protest.

And only a very small number came prepared for violence.

Turley wrote:

There is no question that there were people who came prepared for such a riot, including some who are extremists, who likely would have welcomed a civil war. Yet, the vast majority of people on that day were clearly present to protest the certification and wanted Republicans to join those planning to challenge the election.

This all simply backs the FBI findings I wrote about in August 2021, based on reporting by Reuters.

That reporting a full year ago noted that:

The FBI has found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result, according to four current and former law enforcement officials.

Ninety to ninety-five percent of these are one-off cases,” said a former senior law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. “Then you have five percent, maybe, of these militia groups that were more closely organized. But there was no grand scheme with Roger Stone and Alex Jones and all of these people to storm the Capitol and take hostages.”

Stone, a veteran Republican operative and self-described “dirty trickster”, and Jones, founder of a conspiracy-driven radio show and webcast, are both allies of Trump and had been involved in pro-Trump events in Washington on Jan. 5, the day before the riot.

FBI investigators did find that cells of protesters, including followers of the far-right Oath Keepers and Proud Boys groups, had aimed to break into the Capitol. But they found no evidence that the groups had serious plans about what to do if they made it inside, the sources said.

This also shows that the partisan Jan. 6 Committee is far off the mark in trying to make former president Trump somehow criminally liable for inciting an insurrection.

While his actions, and inaction, on that day can be strongly criticized, he wasn’t trying to overthrow the government.

And neither, it is now clear, were the vast majority of his supporters who rioted at the Capitol. ADN

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank. - - PAULCRESPO.COM

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

People, Places & Things