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January 6 timeline: Key moments from the attack on the Capitol

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January 6 committee wants final report by summer
House January 6 committee wants final report by summer 01:55

The true scale and severity of January 6, 2021 didn't sink in until days, weeks and even months later. As prosecutors and news outlets released new videos and images, Americans gained a better sense of the violence, destruction and size of the mob that attacked the Capitol. On that day, a joint session of Congress was to affirm the Electoral College ballot count, which showed that Joe Biden had beaten Donald Trump.

Through our CBS News review of court filings, congressional reviews and federal police records, we also eventually learned the events, threats, warnings and bursts of violence spanned nearly 24 hours.

Here are some of the notable moments and images from that day, with a few updates that unfolded over the course of the year.

Clare Hymes contributed to this post.

 

Pipe bombs at DNC and RNC

7:39 p.m., January 5, 2021: The night before crowds gathered at the Capitol, a dog walker unknowingly passes a suspected pipe bomber in a Capitol Hill neighborhood. Minutes later the bombs are placed outside Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee headquarters. They won't be discovered until the following day. 

The suspect is still at large one year later.

 

"Large crowd" breaks through barrier

7:40 a.m., January 6, 2021: A U.S. Park Police email warns of a "large crowd" that has broken through a barrier made of bicycle racks at the base of the Washington Monument, which was closed for security reasons.

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"Escalated planning"

8:27 a.m.: As part of "escalated" planning, D.C. Metropolitan Police officers are working or preparing for 12-hour shifts, according to the testimony of Acting D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee III. At the height of the violence later in the day, 850 D.C. officers — nearly one-fifth of the force — were at the U.S. Capitol.

 

10,000 people at the Ellipse

8:51 a.m.: U.S. Secret Service sends an alert that there are over 10,000 people in line at the White House Ellipse, where President Trump was scheduled to speak at a rally at 11 a.m. 

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People gather on the Ellipse outside the White House for a rally by President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

"Some members of the crowd are wearing ballistic helmets, body armor and carrying radio equipment and military grade backpacks," the alert said.

 

Crowds jamming downtown D.C.

10:41 a.m.: D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services request a unit to help "navigate crowds" that are jamming downtown Washington, D.C., as Trump prepared to speak that morning. Later in 2021, the agency would produce a video about its response to the Capitol attacks.

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Trump supporters make their way to gather on the lawn by the Washington Monument as they rally t in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images
 

Trump tells supporters to go to the Capitol

"We will never concede": Trump rallies supporters with false claims he won reelection 27:38

12 p.m.: President Trump addresses supporters, urging them to go to the Capitol to demonstrate "peacefully." But he also exhorted them to act: "If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore," he said. 

 

"A wall of people suddenly arrived"

12:45 p.m.: It begins. The Senate's review recounted, "What looked like a wall of people suddenly arrived about a block west of the Capitol."     

At around the same time, a pipe bomb is discovered nearby.

Trump supporters storm Capitol building in Washington
WASHINGTON D.C., USA - JANUARY 6: US President Donald Trumps supporters gather outside the Capitol building in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021.  Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
 

Pence gavels in the Senate

1:03 p.m.: Vice President Pence gavels in the U.S. Senate. 

Vice President Mike Pence presides over the Senate session to ratify the 2020 presidential election
Vice President Mike Pence presides over the Senate session to ratify the 2020 presidential election at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Getty Images

At the White House Ellipse, Trump's "stop the steal" speech has seven minutes remaining. In the speech, he tells supporters, "I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so. Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election."

"All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people," Trump told the crowd. 

 

Riot declared

1:49 p.m.: U.S. Capitol Police chief calls D.C. National Guard Commanding General to request immediate assistance. D.C. Police declare a riot at the Capitol.

The National Guard did not arrive until four hours later.

 

Lawmakers are evacuated

Around 2:00 p.m.: Vice President Pence is rushed from the Senate Chamber by his security detail. Members of Congress are evacuated to secure locations in the complex where they shelter as rioters storm the building.

Lawmaker evacuates the House Chamber during January 6 Capitol riot
A member of the U.S. Capitol Police rushes Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA) out of the House Chamber as protesters try to enter during a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021. Drew Angerer / Getty Images
 

Rioters smash through first-floor windows on the Capitol's south front

2:11 p.m.: Rioters smashed through first-floor windows on the Capitol's south front, making a hole big enough to climb through. A member of the U.S. Marine Reserve who wore a U.S. flag hood as he allegedly clambered through the window is later arrested by the FBI.

 

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman confronts mob

2:14 p.m.: Quick-thinking U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, confronted with a mob in the Senate, was able to redirect rioters away from the Senate chamber, a moment captured by HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic. 

Goodman was hailed as a hero and Congress passed legislation to award him the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest recognition of appreciation lawmakers can confer on a civilian. 

 

"QAnon Shaman" takes Pence's seat in Senate

2:14 p.m.: Shirtless Jacob Chansley stood out among the rioters, with his Viking hat and face painted red, white and blue. He was also carrying a flag and bullhorn. Chansley, dubbed the "QAnon Shaman," walked into the Capitol through a broken door. Prosecutors say he then reached the Senate floor and clambered into the Senate dais, "taking the seat that Vice President Mike Pence had occupied an hour earlier."

"QAnon Shaman" inside Senate Chamber
Jacob Chansley, known as the "QAnon Shaman," inside the Senate chamber after the U.S. Capitol was breached by a mob during a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021. Getty Images

"Chansley proceeded to take pictures of himself on the dais and refused to vacate the seat when asked to do so by law enforcement. Instead, he stated that 'Mike Pence is a f----ing traitor' and wrote a note on available paper on the dais, stating 'It's Only A Matter of Time. Justice Is Coming!'" prosecutors stated.

He was removed from the Senate Chamber at about 3:09 p.m.  

The day after the riot, on January 7, Chansley voluntarily called the FBI and admitted to his role in the attack, surrendering two days later. He was originally charged in a six-count indictment that included civil disorder, violent entry, and disorderly conduct before agreeing to plead guilty to the single charge of obstruction. He expressed remorse for his role in the rioting and was sentenced to 41 months in prison.

 

D.C. officials ask Pentagon for immediate assistance

2:31 p.m.: D.C. officials ask the Pentagon for immediate assistance. Defense Department officials later said they did not like "the optics of the National Guard standing a line at the Capitol."

 

Trump tweets, "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement"

Just after 2:30 p.m.: President Trump tweets, "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!"

His son, Donald Trump Jr., texts White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. "He's got to condemn this s**t ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough," Trump Jr. wrote.

Meadows responded, "I'm pushing it hard. I agree."

 

Oath Keepers push through crowds

2:35 p.m.: A tactical "stack" of Oath Keepers, an anti-government group made up of military and law enforcement veterans, dressed in combat gear, pushed through crowds, keeping their hands on each other's backs to communicate as they marched up the steps of the Capitol. Prosecutors said they coordinated with other Oath Keepers before and during the attack, using apps like MeWe and Zello.

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Nine Oath Keepers were indicted for conspiracy Friday, including seven members of the tactical "stack" seen entering Capitol in combat gear. CBS News

At about 2:40 p.m., "they forcibly entered the Capitol through the Rotunda door," pelting objects at the police officers who were standing guard and spraying them with chemicals, according to the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors against the Oath Keepers and other groups in mid-December.

 

Klete Keller enters the Capitol

2:39 p.m.: Former Olympic swimmer Klete Keller enters the Capitol, he admitted later in a signed statement. The two-time Olympic gold medalist wore a U.S.A Olympics team jacket to the Capitol and was also recognized because at 6 feet 6 inches, he was among the tallest participants seen in videos of the rioting.

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Former Olympic swimmer Klete Keller in U.S. Capitol on January 6. Screen shot from Townhall video

Keller faced charges related to his entry into the Capitol and disorderly conduct. He pleaded guilty on September 2 and is awaiting sentencing.

 

"One of the most violent confrontations"

2:42 p.m.: Rioters break windows from the doors in Lower West Terrace, beginning an over two-hour fight against police that the Justice Department would later call "one of the most violent confrontations" of January 6.

A minute later, at 2:43 p.m., rioters break the glass of a door to the House Speaker's Lobby. One of the accused, Zach Alam, has pleaded not guilty. 

He was seen in a video using a helmet to break through glass in the doorway to the Speaker's Lobby — the same doorway where Ashli Babbitt was later fatally shot by police. After a video went viral that showed Alam smashing the glass, his relatives watched it "approximately 20 times" and confirmed that it was him, prosecutors later said.

Appearing in court in July, Alam yelled at his attorneys and told the judge he wanted to defend himself. The judge advised against this.

 

Ashli Babbitt attempts to climb through a smashed window

2:44 p.m.: As U.S. Capitol Police were removing lawmakers from the House Chamber, California woman Ashli Babbitt attempts to climb through a smashed window in the door to  the House Speaker Lobby during the riot. A Capitol Police officer shoots her from inside the chamber. Babbitt dies from the wound.

Capitol Police clear officer in fatal shooting of January 6 rioter Ashli Babbitt 00:38

The Justice Department later described the incident in its announcement that the officer who fired at her would be cleared, and the investigation into her death was closed:

At the time, the USCP was evacuating Members from the Chamber, which the mob was trying to enter from multiple doorways.  USCP officers used furniture to barricade a set of glass doors separating the hallway and Speaker's Lobby to try and stop the mob from entering the Speaker's Lobby and the Chamber, and three officers positioned themselves between the doors and the mob.  

Members of the mob attempted to break through the doors by striking them and breaking the glass with their hands, flagpoles, helmets, and other objects.  Eventually, the three USCP officers positioned outside the doors were forced to evacuate.  As members of the mob continued to strike the glass doors, Ms. Babbitt attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken out.  An officer inside the Speaker's Lobby fired one round from his service pistol, striking Ms. Babbitt in the left shoulder, causing her to fall back from the doorway and onto the floor.  A USCP emergency response team, which had begun making its way into the hallway to try and subdue the mob, administered aid to Ms. Babbitt, who was transported to Washington Hospital Center, where she succumbed to her injuries.

 

Capitol police are extracting and securing staff

2:58 p.m.: U.S. Capitol Police are extracting and securing congressional staff, some of whom are hiding beneath tables in their offices, and some of whom have barricaded doors amid the horror.

One D.C.-area Democratic staffer was in the health clinic to get her COVID vaccine.

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Congressional staffers barricade themselves after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.  OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images
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Congressional staffers barricade themselves inside an office during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.  OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images
 

Trump releases video on social media

4:17 p.m.: Trump releases video on social media urging rioters to go home, even though, he claimed, the election had been "stolen." 

"I know your pain. I know your hurt," he said. "We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now."

 

National Guard arrives

5:40 p.m.: Nearly four hours after the U.S. Capitol Police chief requested National Guard troops, they arrive to help secure the Capitol.

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National Guard troops clear a street from protesters outside the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images
 

Trump tells rioters "Go home with love & in peace"

6:01 p.m.: Trump sends a tweet telling supporters still on at the Capitol, "Go home with love & in peace." But the tweet also said, "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long." 

This statement, branded a violation of Twitter's rules against spreading misinformation, was deleted by the social media giant. Twitter later suspended Trump for life.

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