One year on: how the world reported the Capitol Hill riot

Joe Biden blames Donald Trump for ‘carnage’ on anniversary of deadly protest

Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather across from the US Capitol
(Image credit: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

The US today marks the one year anniversary of the deadly insurrection on Capitol Hill, with Joe Biden using an address in Congress to pin the blame for the “chaos and carnage” squarely at the door of his predecessor Donald Trump.

Twelve months on from the protest that made headlines around the world, the president said that Trump holds “singular responsibility” for the events that have so far resulted in the arrest of 725 suspects.

The anniversary was also marked by a minute’s silence in the House of Representatives and a prayer vigil on the steps of the Capitol through which the demonstrators gained access to the heart of American democracy in January 2020.

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Donald Trump cancelled plans for a Mar-a-Lago press conference to be held at the same time as the commemoration in Washington. Sources told The New York Times that the decision was taken after it became clear that the event “would not likely receive the kind of blanket cable coverage that he generally desires”.

The siege led to the suspension of a joint session of lawmakers to certify Biden’s electoral victory, which was finalised the next day. It also moved commentators to suggest that Trump would be removed from office before the end of his term on 20 January.

Several European papers argued in the days that followed that the riot in Washington D.C marked the breaking point in Trump’s often strained relationship with his party. France’s Le Monde said that “enough is enough”, adding: “After the invasion of the Capitol, Republicans close to Trump are turning their backs on him.”

German national newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung agreed that “for many Republicans, the moment seems to have come when they no longer want to defend Donald Trump”.

A decisive break with the former president failed to materialise, however, with Trump hitting the campaign trail later that year to urge supporters to back his allies in this year’s midterm elections.

The anti-Trump sentiment in the European press was also echoed on social media, with covers from past issues of German magazine Der Spiegel that mocked the former president widely shared on Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the riot.

Italian newspaper la Repubblica described the events in Washington as America’s “coup day”.

The South China Morning Post reported that the riots were a cause for glee in China, where a “wave of mockery erupted”. Chinese commentators compared the violence to 2020’s pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, “accusing Washington of hypocrisy” for having condemned Beijing’s harsh response.

In a statement published by the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the events in Washington showed “that the US electoral process is archaic, does not meet modern standards and is prone to violations”.

Iran’s Tehran Times reported that Trump had “been encouraging supporters to come to D.C. for weeks, prompting accusations that he is inciting extremist groups to possible violence”. The Sydney Morning Herald argued that “democracy is a mindset and Americans are losing it”.

“Trump ultimately will be gone; the deep divisions and anti-democratic urges that allowed his rise will linger,” said the paper’s political editor Peter Hartcher. “The deepening bitterness, expressed in economic and race and cultural wars, is the acid eating away US democracy.”

The Financial Times described the outburst of violence as a “nightmarish end” to Trump’s presidency, while Bloomberg said his reign in the White House would be remembered for having “careened toward its conclusion” with a “shocking display of lawlessness”.

As the US capital recovered from the riots, The Washington Post was unequivocal about where the blame lay, warning: “Trump is a menace, and as long as he remains in the White House, the country will be in danger.”

Echoing calls for his cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and end his term in office, the paper said at the time: “He must be removed.”

The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal was equally damning of the former president, claiming that the violence was “Trump’s parting gift to Washington, and the country, for denying him a second term”.

“Where was the police presence in Washington? It’s a scandal that the US Capitol wasn’t better protected on such a significant day,” the paper added.

The front page of The New York Post, a Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid that formerly championed Trump, described the riot as a Capitol “invasion”.

Inside, columnist Michael Goodwin said that the episode marked “a new day of infamy in American history”, adding that it was “a horrifying spectacle” that made the US “look like an ungovernable third world country to our friends and adversaries alike”.

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Joe Evans is the world news editor at He joined the team in 2019 and held roles including deputy news editor and acting news editor before moving into his current position in early 2021. He is a regular panellist on The Week Unwrapped podcast, discussing politics and foreign affairs. 

Before joining The Week, he worked as a freelance journalist covering the UK and Ireland for German newspapers and magazines. A series of features on Brexit and the Irish border got him nominated for the Hostwriter Prize in 2019. Prior to settling down in London, he lived and worked in Cambodia, where he ran communications for a non-governmental organisation and worked as a journalist covering Southeast Asia. He has a master’s degree in journalism from City, University of London, and before that studied English Literature at the University of Manchester.