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The Attack on the U.S. Capitol Was an Attempted Coup

The Attack on the U.S. Capitol Was an Attempted Coup
Supporters of then-President Donald Trump participate in a rally that preceded the assault on the U.S. Capitol building, in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021 (AP photo by John Minchillo).

The dramatic events of the past two weeks in Niger feature all the hallmarks of what most people think of as a “classic coup,” which in the popular imagination involves a member of a country’s security forces overthrowing a civilian leader through extraconstitutional means. In the case of Niger, this was all pretty straightforward: The head of the country’s Presidential Guard, Gen. Abdourahamane Tiani, seized power from the democratically elected leader, President Mohamed Bazoum.

Niger is far from the only place to experience such a coup over the past few years. Similar ones took place in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, as well as in Myanmar. Other countries have seen attempted coups fail, including Turkey and the United States.

That’s right, the United States. As is now well known, on Jan. 6, 2021, an angry mob of protesters who supported then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building in an effort to stop the certification of Joe Biden as the country’s next president. Last week, Trump was indicted by the Justice Department for his role in trying to subvert the outcome of the 2020 election, including by knowingly spreading the false claim that Biden’s victory was the product of electoral fraud. Though the latest indictment stops short of charging him with fomenting the attack on the Capitol, those claims were at the heart of what drove his supporters to do so.

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