Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol: U-M experts can discuss

January 4, 2022
Written By:
Jared Wadley


University of Michigan experts are available to provide perspectives on a number of issues that have resulted in the year since the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and discuss steps to discourage similar uprisings in the future.

Javed Ali, associate professor of practice at the Ford School of Public Policy, can discuss the impact on the overall domestic terrorism landscape, how the threat has evolved, the different law enforcement and homeland security steps that have been taken by the Biden administration to confront this head on, and other possible policy approaches that have not yet been implemented.

“The large and sprawling nature of the Jan. 6 investigation has already resulted in over 700 arrested and charged with various crimes, including over a dozen from the state of Michigan,” he said. “The diverse backgrounds and motivations of the people involved with Jan. 6 is one indicator of the depth of the domestic extremism challenge for the United States going forward and the need for sustained attention and focus across the federal government, state and local partners, the private sector and other elements of civil society.”


Michael Traugott, professor emeritus of communication studies and political science and research professor emeritus at the Center for Political Studies, said the Jan. 6 insurrection was an assault on democracy not seen since the War of 1812.

“Donald Trump built the ‘Big Lie’ around a growing distrust in government and other important American institutions in a significant portion of the population, in conjunction with his interest to void an electoral result that would remove him from office,” he said. “But the real consequence of mobilizing the group that showed up in Washington, D.C., was to threaten a fundamental principle of democracy—when you lose an election, you concede to your opponent. If you are an incumbent, you leave the office with grace, including attending the inauguration of the winner.”

Traugott said the likelihood of another insurrection in the event that a group doesn’t like an election outcome “will depend on how our legal system functions because gridlock in Congress means there is unlikely to be any federal legislation to correct the current situation. If the current prosecutions result in enough convictions and lengthy sentences, that should be enough to mitigate the possibility of another large-scale national event.”

Q&A and audio clips


Barbara McQuade is a professor from practice at the Law School. Her interests include criminal law, criminal procedure, national security, data privacy and civil rights.

“A year later, more than 700 people have been charged with various crimes for storming the U.S. Capitol while our elected representatives met to certify the results of our election,” she said. “Full accountability for this attack on democracy must also include prosecution of anyone involved in conspiring to subvert our election.”


Richard Primus, the Theodore J. St. Antoine Collegiate Professor of Law, teaches the law, theory and history of the U.S. Constitution.

“A year ago, a sitting president inspired a violent attack on our national government. It was both a shocking event in itself and a sign of continuing danger to our system of constitutional democracy,” he said. “Every Democratic senator and seven Republican senators voted to disqualify President Trump from future office as a result, but that wasn’t enough to get the necessary two-thirds of the Senate. Several individuals later filed civil lawsuits to try to hold President Trump accountable, and those suits are now working their way through the courts: argument on some of them is scheduled for later this month in federal court in Washington, D.C.”