What we learn about how the January 6 attack happened


Lisa Desjardins:

Radicalized extremist groups, law enforcement bowing to pressure, and encouraging words from President Trump himself, it’s all part of a new podcast called “Will Be Wild” that explores the build-up to the attack on the January 6.

Andrea Bernstein is an investigative reporter who covers Trump’s legal issues for NPR. And she is the co-host of the podcast.

Andrea, the name of your podcast refers to something President Trump wrote in a tweet before the January 6 rally to prepare people for it. He wrote: “It will be wild.”

I want to ask you what you discovered or pieced together, learned about President Trump’s role or influence in what happened on January 6th.

Andrea Bernstein, Co-Host, “Will Be Wild”: Well, of course, at this point, that’s not what we found. A federal judge recently ruled that the former president more than likely committed a crime in the run-up to Jan. 6.

But what we wanted to do was take a really long look, not just at the Trump administration, but at the years before that. And what we found was that there had been a trend in America, both of radicalization and of the government turning away from white supremacist violence, which had accelerated a lot during the Trump years, both the radicalization of the locals and also the recess of the various federal law enforcement agencies that were designed to protect against domestic terrorism.

I mean, for example, as a journalist, I covered 9/11 and its aftermath. And I was completely taken aback by January 6th. How could this have happened? How could there be a whole federal agency in place to prevent this kind of attack that didn’t work?

And what we found when we started looking at it was that there had been a turnover in the Department of Homeland Security. There were six secretaries or acting secretaries. People came in and out of important positions. People who have tried to deal with domestic terrorism have been told directly by the White House, don’t do this.

So when January 6th rolled around, and the president sent out this tweet, and tens of thousands of his supporters came to Washington, it was like pushing through those barricades with a feather, because the reinforcements that were supposed to being there to defend the Capitol and to defend democracy had been weakened by four years of President Trump.


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