Harvard Study: J6 Rioters Were Motivated by Loyalty to Trump, Not Insurrection

According to The Crimson, Harvard has completed what it calls the most comprehensive study of the motivations of those involved in the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot. Many will not be surprised to learn that most participated out of loyalty to former President Donald Trump. However, the study also found that only eight percent harbored “a desire to start a civil war.” That is inconsistent with the virtual mantra out of the J6 Committee and many in Congress that this was an insurrection rather than a riot. Some of us (including many in the public) have previously questioned that characterization. Yet, it reflects the relatively small number of seditious conspiracy charges brought by the Justice Department.

The study found that a plurality of the 417 federally charged defendants were motivated by the “lies about election fraud and enthusiasm for his re-election.” It concluded that “[t]he documents show that Trump and his allies convinced an unquantifiable number of Americans that representative democracy in the United States was not only in decline, but in imminent, existential danger.”

The study also found that belief in QAnon “was one of the [defendants’] lesser motives.” The study was hardly pro-Trump and one author even expressed surprise with the results since conspiracy theories “were so prominently displayed in much of the [riot’s] visual imagery.”

Once again, none of this exonerates or excuses those who rioted on January 6th or those who fueled the riot. However, the use of “insurrection” by the politicians, pundits, and the press is not an accurate characterization of the motivation of most of the people who went to the Capitol on that day. It was clear that this was a protest that became a riot.

There is no question that there were people who came prepared for such a riot, including some who are extremists who likely would have welcomed a civil war. Yet, the vast majority of people on that day were clearly present to protest the certification and wanted Republicans to join those planning to challenge the election.

One of the key reasons for the resulting damage was the collapse of security at the Hill. The J6 Committee steadfastly refused to address the myriad of questions of why the Congress was not better prepared despite the obvious dangers of a riot (including warnings before January 6th).

The scenes of that day are seared in the memory of many of us. I publicly condemned Trump’s speech while it was being given and I called for a bipartisan vote of censure over his responsibility in the riots. However, there has been an unrelenting effort to make “insurrection” a litmus test for anyone speaking about January 6th. If one does not use that term (and, worse yet, expresses doubts about its accuracy), you run the risk of immediate condemnation as someone excusing or supporting insurrection. This framing also reduces the need to address the question of how this riot was allowed to spiral out of control.

It is possible to express revulsion about what happened on Jan. 6th without claiming that this was an insurrection and attempt to overthrow the nation. This was a collective tragedy for the entire nation, a desecration of our constitutional process. The effort to mandate “insurrection” as the only acceptable description prevents the country from speaking with a unified voice. It clearly serves political purposes but only makes a national resolution more difficult as we approach a new presidential election.


128 thoughts on “Harvard Study: J6 Rioters Were Motivated by Loyalty to Trump, Not Insurrection”

  1. The Rationalizations of Republicans is like a debate between Tweedledum and Tweedledee

    The Confederacy along with its Jim Crow cohort must finally be defeated with prejudice

  2. “If a person with great power —say a [politician]— whips up a mob to attack . . .”

    Glad to see you condemn the democrat politicians who whipped up the BLM/Antifa mob, who attacked innocent Americans, destroyed their businesses, and torched their cities.

  3. I’ve always supported the idea that Jan 6th is not reduceable to one story — there were 10,000 people there with varying motives.

    What does the Crimson poll mean? If you went to the Capitol to support Donald Trump, just after hearing Trump boast that “if Mike Pence does the right thing, I become President (again)”, then at the very least you are going there in support of this brazen plan. And on the face of it, the plan to change the election result so that Trump is inaugurated instead of Biden, after Biden won the Electoral College at 306 and nothing changed as a result of 60 post-election court challenges, then you’re going to the Capitol to show support for interference with the orderly transition of Presidential power.

    Insurrection is too strong a word for most of the 8000. I prefer “soft coup”. It’s still seditious intent…an attempt to subvert the democratic process.

    1. pbinca,

      There’s a massive difference between the 10,000 people you claim showed on J6 vs the pictures & certain Park Service Employees Est. that 1 to 1 1/2 Million that showed up J6 2021.

      What are you watching, listen to, CNN, Wapo, NYT? LOL;)

    2. pbunca says regarding J6- I prefer “soft coup”.

      So then for a duration of 3 years the Russia Russia Russia lie with all the conspirators pushing it you would prefer a “hard coup”?

      1. Margot- When it comes to government corruption, I don’t take sides. I would call the fake Russia-Trump collusion plot a media-infowarfare attack. Even if it had been successful in getting Trump impeached, the Presidency would have passed to Mike Pence, with little impact on the Exec. Branch policies. If the plot were more ambitious, including getting rid of Mike Pence and installing Nancy Pelosi as President, then it would qualify as a soft coup. The word soft merely means “carried out with violence”. Trump was not planning on using violence in order to re-capture the Presidency. His plan(s) were to game the Electoral College system, forcing the vote to pass to the House, state-by-state.

        1. pbunca says: “When it comes to government corruption, I don’t take sides.”

          But yet you blame 3 year’s of Democrat Russia Russia Russia lies “media info warfare”. So the new spin on Russia Russia Russia was the MSM info warfare, nothing to do with the Democrats “we have proof”? I guess you saw Schiff have all the proof on Russia Russia Russia? Give me and all the legitimate posters a break.

            1. The only party in bed with Russia has been democrats.

              The Clinton’s are bought and paid for by Russian Oligarch’s.

  4. “”[T]he most comprehensive study of the motivations of those involved in the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot.” (JT)

    Why don’t they do a study of the motivations of the BLM/Antifa rioters who torched American cities?

    Or is that subject taboo?

    1. Actually, there was news of the conviction last week of the thug who murdered David Dorn. There is some suggestion that black gangs engaged in extortion of “protection money” from local businesses took the George Floyd backlash as an opportunity to punish the “uncooperative” businesses with arson and looting. This demands a very thorough investigation.

    2. Why do you ask la oaded question (your first one)?

      If you search the research literature on terms like motivations black lives matter protesters, it pulls up plenty of possible research matches. You’ll still need to cull through them to separate out the true matches for what you’re looking for from the rest.

    3. I would love that, because it’s never been clear how many of those looters/vandals/arsonists were actual sincere BLM protesters versus cynical opportunists.

      1. Please NO!

        Motivations have no place in the rule of law.

        Actions must be legal or illegal based on the ACT itself not based on our guesses as to the motives of the actor.

        You can act in your private life based on your guesses as to the motives of others.

        But you can not use FORCE – and that means you can not do so within govenrment.

        An action that is lawful on its face is still lawful if you do so for bad reasons.
        An Act that is unlawful is still unlawfull when done with the best of intentions.

  5. I think Turley in a modest amount of words expresses the feelings of many, if not most, Americans who have come to see the cries of “insurrection” as political spin and little else. It’s hard to believe Harvard got it right but maybe, just maybe, as Learned Hand said, reason indeed will eventually surface. As the J6 committee sees its credibility evaporating quickly, perhaps it will schedule some hearings this fall that will address the many unanswered questions about preparedness and just who called off the Trump-approved national guard troops. Amazing how the people seem to understand all this much better than the j6 zealots determined to create something out of nothing.

  6. The only insurrection attempt was made by the mysterious Ray Epps and company who seem to be ignored and protected by the Jan6 “select” committee. Select, you have to love that word assigned to that committee? Hopefully a real investigation will be made to see how many false flag groups were part of the incident. But of course nothing will be done just as those conspirators responsible for the Russia Russia Russia lie.

    1. Margot, You could be correct but then, again, it’s possible that Ray Epps was used unwittingly as a head fake to take attention off the real imbedded operators and government agents. To eliminate focusing on the FBI informants and other government plants, Ray Epps was identified early on in the various videos. Remember, he originally was placed on the FBI’s list of suspects and then mysteriously removed. Some think it was because he was an FBI plant but this has not been established by any independent means and Epps himself denies it up and down. So what’s the excuse for leaving him alone while going after grandmothers and elderly tresspassers? By leaving him alone, he becomes the focus of any attention given to those planted in the crowd that day who really were government agents. He is as mystified as the rest of us why this is so but the head fake analysis seems to explain why this is so.

      1. He wasn’t “mysteriously” removed. They identified him and interviewed him, and he was removed in keeping with their lack of evidence that he did anything illegal.

        1. There is no evidence that many arrested did nothing wrong but they are still facing government retribution for supporting Trump.

          It is funny that Epps was seen inciting riotous behavior and seemed to be communicating with two suspicious people who tore down barricades. Of course that is acceptable to you as long as they are left wingers.

          1. I have zero obligation to look up the agents’ names on your behalf simply because you want to know.

            You’re free to look up the answer to your question yourself or file a FOIA request.

            1. No one gives a darn what you think or do. People object to the government violating the rule of law.

              Do you understand what the rule of law is? Apparently not.

    2. We also need to know the extent of false flag actors amid the BLM protests (“Umbrella Man” in Minnesota, Boogaloo Boys, etc.)

      1. To the extent any of these are GOVERNMENT actors – absolutely.

        I do not care if the FBI is targeting the Michigan Wolverines or BLM – government actors should not be involved.

        With respect to those on the left infiltrating the right and visa versa – that is at most the responsibility of the media.

        Govenrment’s duty is to catch and prosecute the lawless – regardless of politics,

  7. Trump wanted to stay in office beyond his elected term, often called an autogolpe or a self-coup.

    That most did not want a civil war does not address their desire to help him with his autogolpe.

    1. You must like the word, autogolpe because you use it frequently even though you use it inappropriately.

    2. More on how experts define what occurred on J6: washingtonpost.com/business/2021/01/13/autogolpe-self-coup-capitol

      1. The Washington Post has been wrong on every major issue involving Trump. What makes you think they suddenly have decided to publish the truth?

          1. Based on your language I don’t think you care about anyone or anything, but you do demonstrate a distinct lack of intelligence.

  8. What a vapid exercise. So its ok to prevent the transfer of power simply because your guy won? That its not insurrection so much, as it is disappointment.

    Turley has never been a deep thinker, just a shallow Dershowitz.

    1. Donnie,

      It was Harvard, a Deep State actor, just like Yale, the Bureaucratic hiden Govt, that they can’t have the narrative that the 1 Million/1.25 Million people showed up “UnArmed” in DC on J6 to Show Support 4/Demand the Govt respect & implement our US Constitutional Republic form of Govt.

      Mind you Harvard was one out of many that in recent years has helped reform & outfit the Ukraine Nazis!

      How does that mix with this Congress voted Friday to Disarm US Citizens of the 2nd Amd & weapons?

      Take all Americans Fuel, Weapons & Food & what do those DC/Wallst/WEF/UN/WHO Commie/Nazi B*stard have, Slaves is what!!!!

      Are you a Slave?


      ark Levin Audio Rewind – 7/28/22
      Right click and do “save link as”
      On Thursday’s Mark Levin Show, the country is now in a recession and stagflation is soon to follow. President Biden will blame big oil and big meat for shortages, not his business-stifling policies. While the White House will say that we’re not in a recession, what we are in is defined as a recession by every other economist not working in the Administration. Then, former federal prosecutor and acting Pentagon Chief of Staff Kash Patel joins the show to explain that he was in the January 4th meeting with then-President Trump, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Gen. Mark Millie, and Sec. Chris Miller to authorize the use of the National Guard if Mayor Bowser and Nancy Pelosi requested them. Under the Posse Comitatus Act, it is illegal for the President to deploy U.S troops inside the country. It could be seen as a coup if any President unilaterally used the military on U.S soil for law enforcement functions. Afterward, Congress is on a fishing expedition to conjure up a seditious conspiracy charge for former President Trump. Liz Cheney knows the difference between “deployment” and the “authorization” of the National Guard for States to use in their time of need, yet she asked Sec. Miller if President Trump had “deployed” troops on January 6th knowing full well such a domestic deployment would be unconstitutional; this effectively makes the case to exonerate Trump. Later, China’s President Xi Jinping threatened Biden saying he hopes the U.S knows that those playing with fire can get burned. The Biden White House must release a transcript of the call immediately. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
      view more



      The 1st 2 minute + video is of Lix Cheney Lie & at the same time has more Trump/J6’ers exonerating info.



      It’d be helpful to those still Illegaly Held in DC Gulag to have the Govt release the names/amounts of Govt Agents on Capital grounds on J6 & what they were doing there & around the 6th., & all the govt’s videos.

      No, we/public can’t have any of that type stuff because they’ve, (Govt/Video), been Lying to us All!!!

  9. I believe the majority of citizens have long understood the validity of the observations made by Prof. Turley. Voters increasingly realize that the soundtrack of our existence is written, shaped and maintained by the Jacobin segment of the Dem party which exercises complete control over what we see and hear.

  10. This is old news. Anyone with half a brain knew it was a riot. If it was an insurrection the rioters would have been armed to the teeth as they were quite capable of being. Were opportunists there? Well, of course. That’s why they were called opportunists. One side to urge the crowd on to fit there own reactionary agenda and others to try to discredit Trump by pushing the crowd to excess. Those types have always been around, right and left. Hardly needed a poll to figure that out. Now for a true assignment lets get a poll of the next BLM riot or Antifa riot. Not the slogans but actual polling of the participants before they are quickly released on their own recognizance. you know just for balance.
    Oh it was just lies about the election?. Simplistic explanation. You do notice that many of these rioters were not exactly rich or upper class. Many have been hard working blue collar people, who used to be the mainstay of the Democratic Party. They have been abandoned by the party that once championed them. A party that is now of the extremely rich, the well to do suburbs, not the middle class suburbs. Both parties promised them training for new careers as they shipped their manufacturing jobs overseas and did nothing. Trump, an imperfect politician if there ever was one, heard their call and acted. The media treated him as a interesting oddity in 2015-2016 but then, OMG he was elected. Then entrenched D.C. and the media complex went after him with collusion charges, and impeachment. And then a very strange election. Biden wins but fails to win the senate and keeps control of the House by a slim margin. The people saw Trump increase his popular vote total by 11 million people and loses. I accept Biden won but a very strange election nonetheless. I would really, really caution the DOJ on any possible indictment of Trump. If that comes to pass and the trial is in DC, those people out there will see it as a stacked deck. I would hesitate to say how they would react.

  11. For it to be an insurrection, there would of had to been leaders, command, control, communications, an actionable plan with key objectives. And dont forget, weapons.

    What we saw was none of that. Rather a unruly mob that made it up as it went. As Congress was back in session a few hours later to certify the election, the so-called insurrection was not the alleged threat to democracy as claimed.

    Want to see what a real insurrection looks like? See the Biden withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the take over by the Taliban. BTW, the Taliban had leaders, command, control, communications, an actionable plan with key objectives. And dont forget, weapons.

    1. “ For it to be an insurrection, there would of had to been leaders, command, control, communications, an actionable plan with key objectives. And dont forget, weapons.”

      All of that was present. The Jan 6 committee showed it was planned, weapons were indeed present. Weapons were used. Flagpoles, mace, barriers, shields, batons etc. many were used to assault law enforcement and break into the building.

      The definition of weapons is not restricted to firearms.

      1. The definitions of weapons is no restricted to firearms.

        But you really ant to argument that several thousand people tried to take over the US government by force – facing approximately equal numbers of capital police who had a wide variety of firearms, and these insurectionists came with – mace, flagpoles, barriers and shields ?

        A substantial portion of these people were current or former law enforcement or military, They all own firearms, and know how to use them,
        Many own semi automatic rifles.

        Yet, they did not bring or use those.

        To date there is no evidence ANYONE but the capital police used a firearm on J6, There is no evidence that any protester brought a firearm inside the capital. There is minimal evidence that any firearms were present in the crowds outside the capital – and the video of about half a dozen handguns are all people who were not charged or arrested and are highly likely to be undercover government agents.

        This is your idea of an insurrection ?

        BTW there is a growing body of video evidence slowly surfacing that the epicenter of violence at the west tunnel was INITIATED by the capital police.
        That there was no violence or attempt to rush the capital until the CP started firing pepper spray, Tear Gas, and other munitions at previously peaceful protestors.

        There is video of the Same black female CP officer beatting Boylan with a batton – frequently on the head after Boylan was down on the ground – Boylan subsequently died. As well as video of the same officer beating the head of another white female over 30 time who was pushed forward by the crowds and who had her hands raised at the time.

        The CP and federal law define batton blows to the head, to the sternum as LETHAL force.

      2. Of course the protest was planned – multiple permits were issued – not only was the protest planned, but everyone – all ofus were wll aware that a protest was planned.

        Given that you do not have the weapons necessary for an insurrection – your own post claiming flag poles and mace pretty much proves the protesters were NOT armed as necessary to even attempt to take over the government.

        That pretty much makes it clear that what was PLANNED was NOT an insurection.

        Regardless, the “documents” you claim proves a plan – show the Proud Boys Planning to occupy the capital and demand an audit or a new vote.

        Their demands were wishful thinking. But they were NOT the overthrow of the government.
        Insurectionsist do not demand audits or new elections. They just take over.

        Barriers and sheilds BTW are defensive weapons and merely prove they expected violence from the capital police.

        Todate ALL violence at the capital appears to have been initiated by the capital police.

        The CP rules of engagement for J6 did not include the use of deadly force – yet the accounts of the capital police indicate they used deadly force – repeatedly, and numerous videos show that the worst violence at the west tunnel was initiated by the CP.

        The Babbit Murder is exemplar of the entire event. Babbit did not break the windows, and appears to have tried to stop those who did.

        However she did try to enter the speakers lobby – after it had emptied and after the CP preventing protesters from entering moved away from the door. Babbit was shot without warning as she tried to enter the unoccupied speakers lobby.

        Ofc. Byrd claims to have issued a warning – but no other CP officer has corroborated that and thought there are multiple recordings of Babbit’s murder NONE include a warning from Byrd. Regardless, lethal force was not authorized, and federal law prohibts the use of lethal force in response to tresspass.

        Throughout months of violent protests accross the country, the police in this entire country did not shoot an unarmed protestor for tresspassing, or any other act that did not involve the use of deadly force. The police elsewhere did not shoot people for throwing molotive cocktails. One protestor poured gasoline on a police officer and lit it – no one shot at them.

        Even at J6 – Only two police officers actually killed a protestor, and no police officers were actually seriously injured.
        And as noted before – the best evidence we have has all instances of viuolence being initiated by the CP.

        If you wish to disagree – Fine – lets get ALL the thousands of hours of video that has not been released and make it public.

        We can crowdsource reviewing the video. We can find the truth – rather than the lefts attempted narative.

      3. The fact you have to resort to a definition of what a weapon is to justify your already weak argument, weakens it even further.
        If you really believe the use of flagpoles, mace, barriers, shields, batons are truly going to overthrow the US government?
        Clearly you have never been in the military.
        The only thing the Jan6 committee has showed is it is a biased clown show.
        And show me the leadership, those in charge, coordinating the attack, giving orders to established units like the Taliban did.

  12. Democrats are motivated by fascism, not a love of America

    That is why they are fine with selling our government to the highest bidder!

  13. What Election?

    Marxist NEVER give up power.

    Democrat Socialist have no intention of giving up power. As history shows they will only leave by force.

  14. A self selected survey The egg heads only interviewed those choosen by the DoJ. So this is not an acedemic inquiry, but rather another data point provided by the Government.
    Again. Just those selected by the govt. Not a representation of the 10’s of thousands at the elipse.

    After all the hearings, there are more question than before we started.

  15. Wordsmiths in Washington create a deceive-the-people dictionary every day.

  16. Kudos to The Crimson.

    Not often that we see honesty out of a lefty magazine.

    Listen to NPR and they are almost unanimous in calling 1/6 an “insurrection”.

    The lefties are great at propaganda, less so at the truth.

      1. Precise, succinct, and accurate.

        More than can be said for “insurrection”.

        Calling 1/6 an insurrection is either propaganda or a lefty being a drama queen.

        1. in·​sur·​rec·​tion | \ ˌin(t)-sə-ˈrek-shən \
          Definition of insurrection
          : an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government

          What about insurrection doesn’t apply to January 6th?

          1. “revolting against civil authority “

            Learn the difference between protest and revolt.

            1. You aren’t one of those who saw vacationers and sightseers on a casual stroll are you?


              1. Revolt
              an attempt to put an end to the authority of a person or body by rebelling:

              1. Aside from a very few, some of who might not have been Trump supporters, there was no insurrection, rebellion or anything close. It was a protest and when the doors were opened by the Capitol Police, entrance into the building became legal. If you look at the vast numbers of people, they were strolling through the building taking selfies.

                Protest is not rebellion except where the government is fascist

                  1. There was no rebellion. Anyone who thinks there was lives in a fantasy world created so they don’t have to think.

  17. One day the truth witll come out. Pelosi and company saw the opportunity to smear Trump: There was a lively protest approaching the Capitol. The question was “how can we de-legitimize Trump and the millions who voted for him?” The answer: remove the police and refuse the WH request to bring in the National Guard and let them do whatever they want and then we will use the resulting and predictable results to blow the entire episode out of proportion and blame Trump for an “insurrection.” It is that simple

  18. Until it is revealed that professional agitators and provocateurs were present encouraging those who broke in, the country will blame those who felt the election was ripe with fraud, dismissing evidence showing so many unusual, never before witnessed, evidence of voter fraud. Just as Hillary said the 2016 election was a fraud, and that Trump wasn’t the duly elected President, his speech was only different in that he could attract enormous crowds, where not one Democrat can garner such attention. I didn’t vote for Trump against Hillary, as I voted Independent, but when I saw the hypocrisy in the media, how the Left can insight any sort of harassment such as Maxine Waters did, and many others, how they can say or do anything, and it did not make any difference as to what Trump said or did, he was always the bad orange man, and they would twist any fact in their favor to make him look bad, I switched my vote to Trump. Also, his policies were making America great again.

    1. “Until it is revealed that professional agitators and provocateurs were present encouraging those who broke in,”

      We’re long past proving those two points. Even this “study” only (and accurately) states that the majority of the mob were just there to support Trump. Some of the leaders and planners had more specific and criminal motives and are already being found guilty of sedition. What difference does it make that moist of the crowd (and those that continue to follow) are just gullible dupes?

      1. you smash my doors and windows and breal into my house? I truly don’t give a hoot about a deep motive. You broke the law. Period. Not pay the price.

    1. One thing about you Professor you always want to be on both sides of the issue. If a person with great power —say a president— whips up a mob to attack the Capital to stop the peaceful transfer of power by blocking the process of certifying the election so that he can illegally remain in power and the people in the mob follow his orders and attack, it seems to me that’s an insurrection and an attack on our Constitution! But hey they we Republicans so I guess it’s all ok!

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