One year on: what to make of the Capitol attack?

One year after the storming of the US Capitol on 6 January 2021, the House Select Committee investigating the attack is poised to examine the statements of witnesses who allegedly called on Trump to stop the violence. High-ranking advisers to the ex-president are reportedly among these witnesses. These new findings one year on prompt Europe's press to reflect on the state of democracy in the US.

Open/close all quotes
Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Attackers had support from the highest echelons

The reconstruction of events leaves little doubt that Trump encouraged the attack, Corriere della Sera concludes:

“The House Select Committee has published the emails and text messages of the ex-president's advisers, including those of his son. They all, even Ivanka Trump, asked him to stop the riots. Trump did this very late in the day, when the Capitol was already threatened by militiamen and other grotesque figures like the 'QAnon Shaman'. ... The Committee will present a final report in the coming months, and will most likely recommend that the Department of Justice prosecute the former president for neglecting his primary duty: to ensure the security of national institutions.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Americans have their fate in their own hands

For the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the demise of US democracy is neither impossible nor inevitable:

“The fate of the US is not written somewhere in the great annals of history. It is shaped and guided by millions of citizens who make decisions - good or bad, right or wrong, for or against democracy. ... In the end, America's democracy is threatened by those who believed a year ago that they had to respond to an election result with violence, and who still believe that. But this minority can only win if the majority lets it.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Time to control the controllers

The day after the storming of the Capitol, Donald Trump's social media accounts were blocked. But La Vanguardia finds this hardly reassuring:

“Mark Zuckerberg was right to block Trump's accounts indefinitely. ... But the big question is who takes a decision of this calibre, or to whom is the person who takes it accountable. The most worrying fundamental issue here is that power can be exercised outside democratic institutions, because a single person is able to reach millions of people with toxic messages. ... Who keeps the person who can control us all in check? Often it is he who controls the most data, which we have voluntarily made available to him.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

The beginning of a nightmare

Sydsvenskan fears a comeback of the ex-president:

“Can Donald Trump make a comeback as US president in 2024? There are many obstacles, but it's not unthinkable. ... And if not Trump, then a candidate of his choosing. In that case, the attack on the Capitol a year ago could be the beginning rather than the end of a nightmarish chapter in US history.”