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CNN Special Reports

Assault on Democracy: The Roots of Trump's Insurrection. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired January 08, 2023 - 00:00   ET




DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SR. INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Criminal complaints would describe trainings, planning and preparations for an insurrection. Joann Rowe says the real orders came from just one person, Donald Trump.

JOANN ROWE, DONOVAN CROWL'S MOTHER: It's like they're a cult. He's gotten brainwashed. Why, I don't know. I also think they believed so much in what Trump was saying that they truly were believing they following his orders.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): The lies, the anger, the escalation of violent rhetoric had been building for months.

ALI ALEXANDER, STOP THE STEAL ORGANIZER: Haven't I told y'all this fight would escalate?

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): The day before January 6th, crowds started pouring into Washington, D.C. At a rally there, Pastor Ken Peters would preach revolution.

PASTOR KEN PETERS, PATRIOT CHURCH, KNOXVILLE: We will rise up in this time and say like Paul Revere, the leftists are coming. The leftists are coming. The leftists are coming.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Later that evening, Trump's political trickster, Roger Stone, would speak in Biblical terms.

ROGER STONE, LONG-TIME POLITICAL STRATEGIST OF TRUMP: This is nothing less than an epic struggle for the future of this country between dark and light, between the godly and the godless, between good and evil.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Ashli Babbitt tweeted, "Nothing will stop us. In less than 24 hours, dark to light."

To anyone paying attention, a powder keg of violence had been set and was waiting for a match.

STEVE BANNON, ADVISER TO FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's not going to happen like you think it's going to happen, OK?

It's going to be quite extraordinarily different. And all I can say is, strap in. All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.





D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Early morning, January 6th, 2021.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They will have to make it through about four different areas and then go through security.

KELSEY SMITH, DIRECTOR OF SCHEDULING AND ADVANCE FOR SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: I think there was a heightened sense of the importance of that day and the pressure of that day and --

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): For aides to Nancy Pelosi, Alisa La and Kelsey Smith, it would be a big workday, the certification of the 2020 presidential election. In an exclusive interview, they admit the growing number of Trump supporters in the city were unsettling.

ALISA LA, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: My parents were definitely a little concerned for my safety going into work. My husband was a little bit worried. But everybody said, once you're in the Capitol, you'll be totally fine.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): All across Washington, Trump supporters have been turning out for hours.

PETERS: That's how we got up, which we thought was early. The line was so big, it was worthless to even get in line. So we just found a spot out there in the sea of people, where we thought we could see a little bit and hear a little bit. But it was absolutely packed.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Pastor Ken Peters had spoken at the D.C. Stop the Steal rally the night before. Couy Griffin arrived early, too, believing he would speak before Trump.

COUY GRIFFIN, CHARGED IN CAPITOL RIOT: I went to the rally or the ball. I thought I was going to be able to speak out at, which, unfortunately, I wasn't included in it.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Yvonne St. Cyr began the day posting her excitement.

YVONNE ST. CYR, CHARGED IN CAPITOL RIOT: Hello, good morning, we're here.

We came off the metro and it was just eerie. It was like they had the roads blocked off and dump trucks.

OFFICER HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: They just got a different sense in the air that, all right, this is a little weird. But still nothing to raise the hairs on your neck. D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn called into work for what he thought would be a routine day of protests, saw the early crowds and took note.

DUNN: These people are like wrapped their selves in their flags and it was nothing like I've ever seen before. And it's just -- it was like a cultist mentality.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: There is an enormous crowd here. It's hard to really get a grasp of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here because my president called me.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): The crowds waited for hours, watching speech after speech.

REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.

JOHN SCOTT-RAILTON, SENIOR RESEARCHER, CITIZEN LAB, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO: This wasn't just a political show of support for the president; this was a historic day and a historic moment and action might be required.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Let's have trial by combat.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Behind the scenes at the rally to save America, the president was glued to the monitor, showing the crowds. That morning he had already pressured Pence with a crude phone call in derogatory language that Trump himself confirmed in an interview with ABC's Jonathan Karl.


JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: You can be a patriot or you can be a pussy.

Did you -- did you really say that or is that a incorrect --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I wouldn't dispute it.


D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): As crowds watched the speeches near the White House, members of the extreme right-wing group, the Proud Boys, were already assembling at a preplanned location on the Capitol's east side, flashing the OK sign that's associated with white power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, what's up, brothers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to see all The Proud Boys that are here today?

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): They had not come to listen to any speeches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take the fucking Capitol. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tighten up, tighten up, Proud Boys.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): They had arrived in small groups, dressed without their usual Proud Boy attire, to blend in, and equipped themselves with radios for communication. Their day would begin with a prayer and they marched to the Capitol's west side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two men on a mission, with about 500 behind them, ready to kick some butt, stand up for this country.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Josh Pruitt, who would be among the first wave of Proud Boys to breach the Capitol, claims he knew nothing of their plan.

JOSH PRUITT, CHARGED IN CAPITOL RIOT: I didn't hear anything about any plans made by the Capitol at all. I was really just with the guys that were part of the Maryland Chapter. So there was probably like 20 of us. We all hooked up around like 10 o'clock in the morning and that was down where Trump was speaking.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): At the rally, Trump was finally taking the stage and repeating his election loss lies.

TRUMP: We won it by a landslide.


TRUMP: This was not a close election.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Members of the right-wing militia, the Oath Keepers, including Jessica Watkins, begin to lead the speech.


D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Watkins and Donovan Crowl make their way toward the Capitol. She uses a walkie-talkie app to communicate to other Oath Keepers.

WATKINS: Everybody's marching on the Capitol, all million of us. It's insane. We're about two blocks away from it now and police are doing nothing. They're not even trying to stop us at this point.

TRUMP: Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. And after this, we're going to walk down and I'll be there with you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People from the ellipse, where the president has spoken, are going to start making their way up here.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Back at the Capitol, a group led by Proud Boys are taunting police at a small barricade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our Capitol.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Blocking the entrance to the Capitol grounds' northwest side. Then they make their move, overwhelming officers. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rushing the fucking Capitol, brother. The Proud Boys are rushing the Capitol.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Police continue to fall back.


NANCY PELOSI, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: As the House comes to order for this important, historic meeting.

LA: I started looking out and I saw a lot of commotion. This is not -- this is not right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any objections?

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): On the floor of the House, Paul Gosar, the Republican from Arizona, who'd previously been in communication with Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander, is launching his own protest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What purpose does the gentleman from Arizona rise?

REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): I rise up both for myself and 60 of my colleagues to object to the counting of the electoral ballots from Arizona.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, so there you have it, the first objection. They're going to be separated now.

SMITH: I didn't have a view into the outside. But somebody texted me a photo of people on the inaugural platform and that was the first time I thought, wow, I can't believe we're at this point.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): It was almost the same moment Donald Trump was delivering this prophetic line.

TRUMP: And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore. So we're going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Be advised, the speech has ended.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Outside the walls of the Capitol, mayhem; a member of the Proud Boys named Dominic Pezzola got his hands on a Capitol Police riot shield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're throwing bottles, bike racks and bricks at the Capitol.

DUNN: You hear officers on the radio, screaming for help.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Harry Dunn, stationed on the Capitol's east side, races to help his comrades on the west and is stunned at what he sees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Multiple Capitol injuries. Multiple Capitol injuries.

DUNN: And you've seen these officers come up the steps, being dragged up the steps. I can't see, almost in tears, help me, help me. And they're walking out with just their arms forward because you can't see. Their supervisors there in white shirts.

And there's orange stain. The orange is the pepper spray. And there's just so -- it's just orange spray. And it's just like, uhh, help, help. You got officers coming up steps, bloodied. And just -- and you're thinking to yourself, oh my God, what is happening?

And just seeing the fear in some of these officers' faces -- and I'm sure was present on mine because I was scared, I was absolutely scared. Just seeing that fear is something I don't think I'll ever forget.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): A full scale riot is underway outside the Capitol; leaving the rally down Pennsylvania Avenue. Yvonne St. Cyr has no idea what awaits her.

ST. CYR: And I was so excited to get to the Capitol. I just wanted to see what was going to happen. So 1:11, we started marching.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Alex Jones, the conspiracy theory profiteer with the organizer of Stop the Steal, Ali Alexander, in tow --


D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): -- begins his own march to the Capitol grounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is history happening.

ST. CYR: I skipped, literally skipped with my flag all the way to the Capitol.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): In the crowd, Ashli Babbitt.

ASHLI BABBITT, SHOT DEAD DURING THE CAPITOL HILL RIOT: We are walking to the Capitol and a mob. There's an estimated over 3 million people here today. So despite what the media tells you, we on the ground definitely say something different. There is a sea of nothing but red, white and blue patriots and Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what you get, rule the mob.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): At 1:26 pm, U.S. Capitol Police order the Capitol Complex to begin evacuations. Two minutes later, a call is made requesting the National Guard. Pipe bombs are being investigated nearby at the headquarters of the DNC and RNC.


DUNN: Whoa, this is bad, this is bad.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): By 2:00 pm, both sides of the Capitol are surrounded with mobs fighting police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're still taking metal, sharpened objects, missiles, to include bottles and rocks and hand-thrown chemical-grade fireworks. This is now effectively a riot.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Capitol Police are fighting a two-front war.

DUNN: Total chaos, total chaos. Just screaming, yelling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leave him alone. Leave him alone. Leave him alone.

DUNN: Bullhorn being blown, uhh, uhh-uhh, uhh.

Cheers of "America."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our Capitol.

DUNN: And "traitor" and "we want Trump" and just absolute pandemonium. It's so loud you can't even hear your radio that's right here in your ear.

They were prepared for war.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Then the moment happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've breached the scaffold. They have breached the scaffold.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): At 2:12 pm, using a stolen police shield, Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola breaks a window. The Capitol has been breached. The danger has only begun.





D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): At 2:12 pm, using a police shield, Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola breaks a window on the Capitol's west side and the mob starts pouring in. Josh Pruitt jumps a railing and follows other Proud Boys through a now open door.

D. GRIFFIN: What did you do?

PRUITT: Walk in through a front door being held open by cops, a wingman.

D. GRIFFIN: Now you know that's not true.

PRUITT: No, I know that is true. There's proof of it. There's video of it. And when I walked into the front door, the cops were at the door. And they were standing to the sides of the door and they were waving people in.

D. GRIFFIN: Yes. The video I saw of that moment was a couple of cops, overwhelmed by a mob.

PRUITT: Well, you didn't watch all the videos then.

D. GRIFFIN: I didn't?

I think I did.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): It was all caught on video. Here is Josh Pruitt, walking through the door 70 seconds after the window breaks. It is almost the same moment rioters smashed windows on the east side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And be advised they're attempting to break a window on the east front. 14:13 hours, Capitol has been breached on the east side.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Armed with sticks, flagpoles, riot shields, they had stormed past and overpowered police, who could do little but coax and steer them away from lawmakers.

REP. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): My challenge today is not about the good people of Arizona.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I will stand in recess until the call of the chair.

LANKFORD: We'll pause --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Protesters are in the building.

LANKFORD: Thank you.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): The rioters weren't just in the building. At the moment the Senate adjourned, they were streaming straight toward the Senate chambers and Vice President Mike Pence.

Senator Mitt Romney is about to head straight into a mob but is intercepted by a single Capitol Hill police officer.

A moment later, that same officer, Eugene Goodman, somehow coaxes the mob away from the Senate and straight into a waiting row of Capitol Police.

DUNN: My hero, Gene's great. He is great. He did a great job. There were a lot of Eugene Goodmans that day that did a lot of great, heroic things and people will never know their name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biggs, what you got to say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is awesome.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): There are now hundreds in the mob, roaming halls, banging on doors, taking photos and video.

Some members of Congress are being escorted to safety but, scattered behind doors, staffers, news media are in hiding.

LA: Then I remember telling my colleagues, I think we need to go into lockdown.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Inside, House Speaker Pelosi's office, her staffers rush to a conference room, lock the door. Among them, Alisa La and Kelsey Smith, speaking exclusively to CNN.

LA: Then we started hearing the banging and like the hooting and the hollering very close to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Way to go, brother.

LA: And then I realized, OK, music off, everybody silence your cell phones, turn the lights off. Do not say anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're coming for you, Nancy.

LA: It was menacing.

I mean, they were like, "Where's Nancy? Where's Nancy?"

"Where are the people that work for her," like --


SMITH: We'll find you.

LA: -- yes.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): They had barricaded themselves in, hoping the door would hold.

SMITH: The din was coming from all directions. And we heard somebody yell, "I found Nancy Pelosi's office," like, "Nancy," that people were chanting. "Nancy, Nancy." They come through this way.


SMITH: So we're hearing it from behind us and in front of our door, so it was completely -- the sound surrounded us to the point we're just hearing the shouting and the yelling and the banging and the crashing and shattering of glass.

But then once they started banging on the door, that's all I heard. That's what I still think about, the door sound.

One of us said to the other, they take us hostage, right?

I said, "Yes, I think."

That was one of the few words I said out loud in the room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to fight, you (INAUDIBLE).

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): One of the trapped staffers whispers a phone called plea for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need Capitol Police. I think they're coming down the hallway. They're pounding on doors trying to find her.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): It was pure terror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you, Nancy?

We're looking for you.

SMITH: That's the way he was chanting her name.


SMITH: It haunts me.


SMITH: He was not going to be nice if he found her or someone associated with her.

LA: And it could have been multiple --



LA: -- men that were doing that too. I mean, we don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nancy? Where are you Nancy?

SMITH: We didn't know what was actually happening because it was just the eight of us in a completely dark room. And all we could hear was all those outside.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Inside the halls of Congress, the mob refuses to stop.

Outside, more and more are trying to get in. In the midst of the massive protest, what appears to be a single-file military column climbs the eastern staircase as the crowd sings.

These are the Oath Keepers and, in the column, is Joann Rowe's son, Donovan Crowl.

ROWE: And I never dreamed that he would ever do anything like that, never. It's just heartbreaking to me.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): It's alleged the Oath Keepers had stashed weapons in a nearby hotel, had been planning, practicing military tactics since the election. Now, over radio communications, they were broadcasting their triumph. WATKINS: We are in the mezzanine. We are in the main dome right now. We are rocking it. They're throwing grenades, they're fricking shooting people with paintballs but we're in here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get it, Jess. Do your shit. This is what we've fucking lived up for. Everything we've fucking trained for.

DONOVAN CROWL, OATH KEEPER: We're going to the Capitol, overran the Capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in the fucking Capitol, bro.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): In almost every corner, inside and out, many battles are raging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's over. You better run, cops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All MPD pull back to the upper deck, ASAP.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Police officers are being crushed, trying to keep the surging mob from gaining entry to the lower west tunnel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody, freeze. Everybody, freeze.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): One officer, Daniel Hodges, screaming as his body is pressed into the door.

Officer Michael Fanone had heard the radio calls and rushed to help.


D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): His body camera captures the moment he faced the mob of thousands.


FANONE: We're in a medieval battle. This is hand-to-hand combat in its most brutal form.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): The rioters had come armed and were fighting to get inside. They hit police with bats, sticks, batons, Tasers.

FANONE: Guys were bleeding. You know, these are officers that I think, under normal circumstances, they'd be in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. But they weren't, because there was nowhere to go. If you left that line, we are going to lose that door and that just wasn't an option.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Fanone, trying to defend the line, was yanked across it.

FANONE: I was pulled away from the other officers, out into the crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got one. D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Video would capture Fanone being tossed, pulled, beaten. His own body camera, a jumble of confusion and violence.

FANONE: All getting the shit kicked out me. Yes, that was like the ass beating of a lifetime.

D. GRIFFIN: You're in a police uniform.



D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): The mob grabbed for his gun. Someone repeatedly Tased him in the neck.

FANONE: They were trying to kill me.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Fanone, struggling to survive outside the Capitol, was trying to defend lawmakers still trapped inside.

REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): We were just told that there has been tear gas in the Rotunda and we're being instructed to, each of us, get our gas masks that are under our seats.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Armed Capitol Police are now blocking the doors of the United States House of Representatives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boy, you're a traitor. (INAUDIBLE).

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Up in the gallery, Colorado congressman Jason Crow was in a group of members trapped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody stay down.

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): We were the targets. We were the ones, the members, that they were going to try to kill or capture.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Crow called his wife, told her, "I love you."

Then the former Army Ranger, with more than 100 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, plotted to escape.

CROW: There was a part of me that was thinking, if this mob breaks through those doors, they're going to try to kill us all. And I need to do what I need to do to protect myself, protect my colleagues, protect others.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): On the Capitol's front lawn, the mob was becoming incensed. Donald Trump had just tweeted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution."

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): There was a scaffold and a noose and chants of "Hang Mike Pence." Security is now whisking Pence and his family down a back stairway.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Because I think Trump wanted the crowd to turn into a mob. I think he wanted them to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College votes, to give him more time to play out some other scenario that might yet end up with him being president.

And that's the most dangerous part, not the crowd in the Capitol, although that was sad and tragic. The worst part was Donald Trump himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we came that far.

What do you say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring him out. Bring him out.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Back inside, Ashli Babbitt is approaching a mob that has reached the doors of the House Speaker's lobby. It's a hallway that leads directly to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, members and their staff just steps away. Reinforcements arrive.

Three uniformed officers, holding the door, step aside. All that separates members of Congress from the mob is a wood and glass door, barricaded with furniture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, he's got a gun. He's got a gun. Hey!

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): In that split second, Ashli Babbitt tries to climb through a broken window.

ROGER WITTHOEFT, ASHLI BABBITT'S BROTHER: That's one of the hardest parts about seeing the video, is you just want to grab her and shake her and be like, "Dammit, Ashli, why'd you have to do that?"

You know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sound like a fucking gun.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Ashli Babbitt is shot.

CROW: You know, I know gunshots pretty well. And I knew that this was this was real and people were being killed.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Ashli Babbitt would die because of Trump's Big Lie. She would not be the last.




(MUSIC PLAYING) D. GRIFFIN: The battle, raging for nearly two hours, is showing no signs of stopping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's escape hoods (ph).

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Rioters are on the Senate floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, whose office is this?

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): And rummaging through offices.


D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Outside, more and more are trying to fight their way in. D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone, dragged into a mob, being beaten, is heard on his body camera, pleading for mercy.

FANONE: I think it saved my life.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Officer Fanone suffered a mild heart attack after being repeatedly Tased and beaten, one of nearly 140 police officers wounded in the protest.

Another, Officer Brian Sicknick, sprayed with a chemical, would die the next day, officially of a stroke, though the riot played a role, according to the medical examiner.

Proud Boy Josh Pruitt, walking around the Capitol, is spotted at the front lines and smashing a wooden sign. He calls it all a peaceful protest.

PRUITT: There's a picture of me picking up a sign. OK, cool.

D. GRIFFIN: Now holding it over your head and throwing it.

PRUITT: I'm sure I've seen a trust (ph), man. I have seen all the pictures, because that's their narrative.

JOHN SCOTT-RAILTON, SENIOR RESEARCHER, CITIZEN LAB, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO: I think we got so lucky that this didn't become worse. And what was remarkable is the hours that went by without a word from Trump.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): It's been an hour since the Capitol was breached at 3:13. Donald Trump would make his first response to the violence, tweeting, "I'm asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful, no violence. Remember, we are the party of law and order."

FANONE: I don't think the people that came to the Capitol that day had a lot of respect for my co-workers and me.

REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): I mean, this is insane.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Lawmakers, including Republicans, calling into CNN, were astounded at the president's detachment. GALLAGHER: The election's over. Any objectors need to stop meddling with the primal forces of our democracy here.

So call it off. Mr. President, we need you to call this off.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): President Trump did not call it off.

On a perch overlooking the crowd, Alex Jones begins to spin the lie, Antifa was causing the violence.

ALEX JONES, CONSPIRACY THEORIST: 95 percent provocateur. We have witnesses, we have the footage.


D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Couy Griffin, who claims he didn't see anybody, makes his way to the inauguration stage.

COUY GRIFFIN, CHARGED IN CAPITOL RIOT: But it wasn't part of the Capitol building. It was a exterior staircase. I never went inside.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): And tries to get a mob shouting, "Fight for Trump" to pray for Trump.

C. GRIFFIN: Take a knee. If you want to, take a knee, take a knee.

Wonderful opportunity to pray with people. After that we laughed, we walked down the staircase. We walked away from the Capitol.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): The aftermath of Ashli Babbitt's fatal shooting is playing out on live TV.

WITTHOEFT: By the time I had made it to my parents' house, my other younger brother had met me out in the parking lot and told me she had passed. One of the only two times I've ever seen my father cry. I mean, go down to your knees, sobbing like a kid. Cry. My mom destroyed about it. But I mean, which mother wouldn't be? You know.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Yet the president had still not told his followers to stop.

Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urges Trump, call it off.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I begged him to go talk to the nation. Don't do it by Twitter.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": He was resisting phone calls from people. He did talk to Kevin McCarthy. Kevin McCarthy told him what was happening, that people were breaking into McCarthy's office.

And Trump's reaction was, "They must be more upset than you are about the election results."

BOLTON: Donald Trump is watching this on television and I wondered, what is he doing to stop this?

I think we know now, he didn't do anything. Not doing anything while the Capitol was being desecrated, I thought, was unforgivable.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Pastor Ken Peters says he didn't make it to the Capitol until later.

PETERS: There were still people all over the stairs and waving flags. You saw people standing and letting their voices be heard.

D. GRIFFIN: People bashing in windows, pushing through doors, fighting with cops.

Do you believe that did happen?

PETERS: I do. I do.

D. GRIFFIN: And was it right, wrong?

PETERS: There's -- it was horrible. No, it was terrible. As Christians, we stand but we don't riot. Christians are never to be destructive.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Capitol Hill police, now formed in tactical units, were performing rescue missions. Congressman Jason Crow, among those trapped in the House gallery, was being escorted past rioters, spread-eagled on the ground.

CROW: They were holding rioters at bay, at gunpoint on the other side.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Nancy Pelosi's staff waited two hours, barricaded and terrified before they, too, were escorted to safety.

SMITH: That was easily the worst day of my life, the worst two hours of my life, easily.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Amidst the chaos, QAnon believer Yvonne St. Cyr climbed through a window to get inside.

ST. CYR: I was caught up in the moment. Oh, my gosh, we were storming the Capitol. I was inside the Capitol. So I went live in the moment. And I stuck my head out the window and said, "This is our house."

And all the energy and emotion of what I was feeling, super sad that this is America and Americans are being beaten for wanting to save their country. So welcome to communist America.

Aren't you so fucking proud?

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): By 4 o'clock, Vice President Pence was calling the Acting Secretary of Defense, demanding he clear the Capitol. A moment later, battle raging. Trump finally tweets a pre- taped statement.

TRUMP: I know your pain. I know you're hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. But you have to go home now. D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Then inexplicably tells the mob --

TRUMP: You're very special.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump asked everybody go home. He just said, he just put out a tweet. It's a minute long. He asked everybody to go home.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Josh Pruitt, who claims he was only in the Capitol for a half hour.

PRUITT: It got a little too rowdy for me in there personally. So I decided to leave.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): -- says he believes it was all a setup.

PRUITT: I think that they let a bunch of people in so they can use their facial recognition and get every Trump supporter with charges that they could. That's what I think happened.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And now you see in these pictures, you know, the cavalry, if you will, has arrived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here, guys.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): By 6:00 pm January 6th, the riot was largely under control. At 6:01, Donald Trump would signal to his supporters they had done the right thing. And he shot a warning to the rest of the country that the insurrection he launched was not over.

"These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so --


D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): -- "unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots, who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long."

He finishes, "Remember this day forever."

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Congress has returned to the Capitol --

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): But the day was not over.

LA: We went back and did our job. We fulfilled our constitutional duty and they will never break us.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Trump lost. The insurrection failed. Congress certified Joe Biden's as the 46th President of the United States. But the Big Lie has not gone away. The assault on democracy is escalating.

TRUMP: Our movement is far from over. In fact, it is just getting started.




D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): On the morning of January 7th, like the country itself, the United States Capitol appeared in shock; broken glass, smashed doors. Damaged but not broken, democracy had survived Trump's mob. Joe Biden's election had been certified but at tremendous cost: five people died, nearly 140 police officers injured.

In the immediate aftermath, there was no doubt who had caused it.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: President Trump is practically and morally responsible.


D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Republicans briefly united with Democrats in disgust.

MCCARTHY: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy, who begged Donald Trump to stop the riot while it was happening...

MCCARTHY: I called the president and I begged him to go talk to the nation.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): -- within weeks would do an about face.

MCCARTHY: I don't believe he provoked it, if you listened to what he said at the rally.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If you don't believe that Trump had anything to do with his insurrection, why were you calling him to have it called off?

In the heat of the moment, everybody knew what the deal was.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): But in the aftermath of Trump's attempted coup, what happened on January 6th has become a partisan issue.

Trump's delusional belief that he was cheated has become gospel for Republican supporters who refuse to accept truth. Trump himself shows no remorse, even for the January 6th crowd that threatened to hang his own vice president.


KARL: You heard those chants. That was terrible. I mean those, you know, the --

TRUMP: He could have -- well, the people were very angry.

KARL: They were saying, "Hang Mike Pence."

TRUMP: Because it's common sense.

How can you -- if you know a vote is fraudulent, right?

How can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?

KARL: If Pence did what you wanted, you think you would still be in the White House?

TRUMP: I think we would have won, yes.


D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Lower level Republicans, many conspiracy believers themselves, found their opening to rewrite the history of January 6th.

Congressman Andrew Clyde from Georgia, who actually helped Capitol Police barricade the door that day, later said this.

REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): No one could look at this video...

-- this video or this video -- and called January 6 a normal tourist visit.

WITTHOEFT: It's kind of eerie and haunting to me that, for the rest of my life, I can go watch my sister die on camera. A horrible, horrible video but it will always be there.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): The scars of the siege on the Capitol are permanent. The lives of those who took part have been upended. Many face prison time, lost jobs.

C. GRIFFIN: It's cost me a lot. It's cost me a lot.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): The support for Donald Trump has recently waned but he is still a believer.

C. GRIFFIN: I personally will never recognize Joe Biden as a President of the United States as long as I have the type of questions that I have regarding the elections.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Yvonne St. Cyr thinks it's all part of a grand plan.

ST. CYR: I don't regret going on January 6th at all. And I don't even regret going through the window.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Bartender Josh Pruitt has left Washington. D. GRIFFIN: You're in serious trouble.

PRUITT: I'll be just fine because I didn't do anything.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Oath Keeper Donovan Crowl is facing some of the most serious criminal charges in the Capitol breach.

CROWL: We're going to the Capitol, overran the Capitol.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): We found him in Ohio.

D. GRIFFIN: I'm with CNN.

CROWL: Excuse me?

D. GRIFFIN: I'm with CNN, Mr. Crowl, Drew Griffin.

CROWL: Thanks, man. I'm good.

How's your day?

D. GRIFFIN: I've been talking to your mom and your sister. They mentioned that you might want to say something to us about...

CROWL: About what?

D. GRIFFIN: -- about your case and whether or not you feel bad about it.

CROWL: I feel bad about my case?

D. GRIFFIN: Feel bad about what you did?

CROWL: Well, actually, the things I did, I was hanging out with some of the wrong people, it seems like. but I didn't really do anything. So I feel pretty good that my case is going to come out and show that, so...

D. GRIFFIN: Do you feel like you were manipulated into going to the Capitol?

CROWL: No, no. I really got nothing to say to you. I don't watch your garbage anyway.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Joann Rowe lost her battle with leukemia in August. She died ashamed of her son's actions.

ROWE: I love the person that he used to be but I despise the person that he is now. He's not my son. And I still have a hard time believing that he did what he did. If he gets 20 years in prison, he'll be 70 years old before he gets out of there.

Trump doesn't care about any of those people that stormed the Capitol for him. He doesn't care one iota about him. He hasn't even mentioned them since he's been out of the White House. D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): January 6th only intensified the collective madness around the lie of a stolen election. Republican governors and legislatures are passing new laws, targeting mass vote fraud that never occurred.


D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Scariest of all, the conspiracy theory that Trump could return in a military coup.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The military is doing their own investigation and, at the right time, they're going to be restoring the republic with Trump as president.

CYNTHIA MILLER-IDRISS, DIRECTOR, POLARIZATION AND EXTREMISM LAB, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Well, once people are already radicalized, it is very difficult to bring them back.

D. GRIFFIN: So just giving them facts doesn't work.

MILLER-IDRISS: It definitely does not work, especially for conspiracy theories. You can't give people facts and expect them to believe. They will just see that as feeding into the same conspiracy.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Trump's true believers get their so-called news from unapologetic propaganda, conspiracy profiteers on social media and lying politicians, who are putting their personal careers ahead of the country they claim to serve.

Most influential of all is the liar in chief, Trump himself, who fuels the hysteria.

TRUMP: I am not the one trying to undermine American democracy. I'm the one that's trying to save it. Please remember that.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Donald Trump's lie united ordinary Americans with radical extremists on January 6th and that could lead to an even darker future.

ELIZABETH NEUMANN, FORMER TRUMP DHS COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: There are still a lot of angry people. It absolutely emboldened them. And it's like it's finally happening, this civil war. This is the start of it. And it has encouraged people to plot and plan for what their next series of attacks are going to be.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): The movement threatens the very functioning of the United States government.

V. JONES: If you don't change anything, then we're on the pathway to having a failed state, which means the government can't govern, which means people just start doing whatever they want to do. You could wind up with very bad outcomes in the United States over the next 10 years or more.

D. GRIFFIN (voice-over): It is an America where white supremacists can march in the open. Politicians can spread lies, push hate and make millions from it. And violent mobs can storm capitals and threaten politicians if they don't like the results of an election. This is Donald Trump's America.