Still No Evidence of Armed Insurrection on Jan. 6

May 6, 2021 Updated: May 13, 2021


It almost seems like the narrative was created in advance.

As the nation’s capital descended into chaos on the afternoon of Jan. 6—including angry protests both inside and outside the Capitol building objecting to Congress’s final certification of the 2020 election results—Democratic lawmakers were already spinning.

“This is a violent insurrection,” Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-Fla.) wrote on Twitter at 3:40 p.m. as the mayhem escalated. “An attempted coup by Trump supporters at his encouragement.”

“This is how we make America great?” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), former chair of the Democratic National Committee, wrote at 3:09 p.m. ”Violence, storming the Capitol, attempting to block your duly elected successor by encouraging armed insurrection?”

Lawmakers from both political parties echoed those sentiments throughout the day. Less than 24 hours later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cemented the emerging storyline about the events of Jan. 6.

“Yesterday, the president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America. The gleeful desecration of the U.S. Capitol, which is the temple of our American democracy, and the violence targeting Congress are horrors that will forever stay in our nation’s history, instigated by the president of the United States,” Pelosi raged during a Jan. 7 press conference. “Justice will be done to those who carried out these acts, which were acts of sedition and acts of cowardice.”

The “armed insurrection” mantra was cited as key evidence in the Democrats’ second impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump.

But was it true? In February, I examined federal indictments filed against nearly 200 people charged in the Justice Department’s Capitol investigation, which top officials promised would be “unprecedented” in the agency’s history. At the time, only 14 people faced weapons violations. Items such as a helmet, riot shield, and pepper spray were described by government prosecutors as “dangerous or deadly weapons.”

Only two protestors, however, were found to be in possession of a firearm—and neither was inside the building on Jan. 6. They were detained later that night and charged with violating Washington, D.C.’s strict gun control laws.

So, four months later, is there any proof to back up the pervasive claim that Jan. 6 was an “armed insurrection?” After all, investigators now have a massive trove of video and social media posts to document what happened during the day in question; by now, clips of Trump insurrectionists carrying guns or braggadocious comments on Facebook should prove beyond a doubt that an “armed insurrection” indeed nearly toppled the U.S. government that day.

But another review of the more than 400 people currently charged in the Justice Department’s nationwide manhunt still fails to support the initial account that hundreds of armed Trump supporters seized the Capitol with intent to maim, kill, or capture the building. A total of 44 defendants—roughly 10 percent of those facing any sort of prosecution related to Jan. 6—stand accused of either possessing or using a dangerous weapon. Here is the breakdown as of May 1:

  • Nine people with pepper spray;
  • Nine people with a pole or flagpole;
  • Four people with a riot or police shield;
  • Four people with a small baton;
  • Three people with a stick;
  • Three people with a baseball bat;
  • Two people with a taser;
  • Two people with a fire extinguisher;
  • Two people with a crutch;
  • One person with a stun gun/walking stick;
  • One person with a police helmet;
  • One person with a knife;
  • One person with a hockey stick;
  • One person with an ice ax.

Some of the weapons, no doubt, can cause serious harm, and those who used any weapon against a police officer should, and will, be punished accordingly.

But in many cases, the defendant simply is charged with carrying the weapon, not using it against anyone—some protesters testified they brought weapons for self-defense in anticipation of violent engagement with agitators of Antifa or Black Lives Matter. Richard Barnett, the man famously photographed inside Pelosi’s office, faces two counts of possession of a “dangerous or deadly weapon,” to wit, a walking stick that can be used as a stun gun. In a court hearing last week, Barnett’s lawyer argued the item didn’t have batteries and wasn’t operational; a federal judge finally released Barnett from a D.C. jail after he had served nearly four months awaiting his trial.

In the Justice Department’s wide-ranging conspiracy case against the Proud Boys, six members face charges of “entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds and carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon.” But according to a grand jury indictment, only one man, William Chrestman, had a weapon, a wooden ax handle. He is not accused of using it.

Prosecutors are trying hard to salvage another myth about Jan. 6—that Officer Brian Sicknick was killed in the line of duty by Trump supporters. The New York Times eventually retracted its original story claiming Sicknick was murdered by “insurrectionists” using a fire extinguisher, but the media wasted no time pivoting to a new spin: Sicknick, the public was told, died as a result of a reaction to bear repellent sprayed on him by Trump supporters during the chaos.

But that isn’t true, either. The D.C. Medical Examiner’s office last month finally admitted Sicknick, 42, died of natural causes; nonetheless, Joe Biden’s Justice Department is desperate to keep the storyline alive. In March, two men were charged with using a chemical spray against the deceased officer. Prosecutors also had to admit in court last week that the spray was not bear spray, but a small can of pepper spray.

George Tanios and Julian Khater now sit in jail while denied bond, each facing three counts of using and possessing a deadly weapon, even though there is no proof the spray used by Khater hit Sicknick or his colleagues—just more prosecutorial blocking to support Pelosi’s stagecraft.

Much of Jan. 6 is a manufactured illusion, another exercise in political spin-making for partisan gain. But no amount of performative wishful thinking by the media, Democrats, and several Republicans about the existence of an “armed insurrection” on Jan. 6 can turn their imagination into reality.

Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of “Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―and Failed―to Take Down the President.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.