January 6 and January 8
Our work to prevent political violence can't let up.
This week brought a chilling reminder that the threat of political violence is still with us—both here in the United States and around the world.
In Brazil, right-wing rioters laid siege to the country’s capital, ransacking the Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential offices. They had been fed lies and conspiracy theories by a defeated president claiming a rigged election, then were galvanized on social media.
The images on Sunday were unmistakably reminiscent of Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington—rampaging crowds, clouds of tear gas, and a hallowed seat of democracy transformed into a scene of chaos.
The violence in Brasília underscores that the insurrection at our own Capitol is not so far behind us.
Despite the historic work of the House January 6 Select Committee, criminal charges against more than 900 people, and many other accountability efforts, such as our own Jan. 6 litigation, forces promoting political violence are determined and still growing.
And as international watchdog organizations have pointed out, the world is drifting toward nationalism and populism, raising the risk of unrest, erosion of democratic institutions, and constitutional crises.
In the United States, the November midterm election was largely peaceful, with some notable and manageable exceptions. But that outcome wasn’t inevitable. It took hard work by state and local election officials, resilience-building by civil society and community organizations, close coordination with law enforcement, and careful attention from the judicial system.
Our work to prevent political violence can’t let up. States and local jurisdictions will use the next two years to build on their successes, increase security for their officials and facilities, strengthen partnerships with law enforcement, and get ready for 2024.
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State of the States
In Georgia, a special grand jury has completed its investigation into whether former President Trump and his allies criminally interfered in the 2020 election. The judge who oversaw the special grand jury scheduled a hearing for Jan. 24 to determine whether the panel’s findings should be made public. If Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, decides to pursue criminal charges, she will do so through a regular grand jury. Willis is investigating whether Trump or members of his team broke the law in their attempt to reverse President Biden’s win in Georgia, including pressure campaigns against state officials, harassment of election workers, and the assembling of an illegitimate slate of pro-Trump presidential electors.
In The News
- A former leader of the far-right Proud Boys and four associates “took aim at the heart of our democracy” to keep Donald Trump in power, a prosecutor said as the men went on trial in Washington. All five are charged with seditious conspiracy as a result of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
- Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs created a bipartisan task force to identify ways to “enhance the accessibility and security of Arizona’s elections.” The task force will employ the expertise of “state and local election administrators, election security experts, and voting rights advocates.”
- The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that sought to invalidate Act 77, the state’s no-excuse mail-in voting law. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania upheld the law in August. States United served as pro bono counsel to the defendant, Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman.
- More information about Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation came to light. Smith sent a subpoena to former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and another to Trump campaign officials last month, according to media reports. The subpoenas seek information about the events of Jan. 6 and the former president’s fundraising after the 2020 election.