Storming of US Capitol marks an extreme for a norm-busting presidency

Storming of US Capitol marks an extreme for a norm-busting presidency

Historians of American political violence struggle for precedents to pro-Trump riots

From the unrest of the Depression-era Bonus Army to the upheaval of the Vietnam protests and the exploits of armed extremists — historians struggled to identify any previous event in Washington DC’s past to match the magnitude and severity of the pro-Trump mob that over-ran the US capitol on Wednesday.

“Storming the Capitol on the direction of the president is something we have not seen before. There isn’t a historical precedent,” said Nicole Hemmer, a presidential scholar at Columbia University.

“It’s almost beyond belief,” Joanne Freeman, a Yale historian who has written about political violence in the revolutionary era, told WZON radio. 

Much about the Trump presidency has defied historical precedent, from retaining ownership of a multinational corporation while in the White House to his attempts to politicise the military.