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Trump supporters outside the Senate chamber. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Wednesday's assault on the U.S. Capitol was an appalling shock to most Americans, but to far-right true believers it was the culmination of a long-unfolding epic.

The big picture: A growing segment of the American far right, radicalized via social media and private online groups, views anyone who bucks President Trump's will as evil. That includes Democrats, the media, celebrities, judges and officeholders — even conservatives, should they cross the president.

Catch up quick: A great many Trump supporters spent recent weeks on heavily pro-Trump platforms like TheDonald.win and Parler openly discussing coming to Washington on Jan. 6 to launch an attack on the government.

  • Often the idea was discussed in vague or winking terms; other times, users explicitly called for elected officials to be abducted and executed.
  • Users on more mainstream platforms talked up plans to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to simply protest the certification of Joe Biden's electoral victory. Trump egged them on, repeatedly calling on supporters to swarm Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6.

Between the lines: Adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, who imagine a vast deep-state cabal of pedophiles arrayed against Trump, have for years insisted that a moment of reckoning for their enemies is imminent.

  • QAnon believers have largely accepted that Trump is waiting for the right time to bring a hammer down on his enemies (or already has, in secret).
  • But time is running out. Because Congress was slated to officially certify Biden's victory on Jan. 6, the day became the focal point of a new conspiracy theory — that Trump would, on that date, reveal mountains of evidence of electoral fraud, somehow invalidate Biden's win, and secure a second term.

The catch: That evidence does not exist. Instead, Trump Wednesday addressed the followers who came to Washington by reeling off a familiar list of grievances.

  • That left some supporters standing around blinking.
  • "I thought this was the rubicon speech but he's talking about campaign s--t still?" said one poster on TheDonald.win following Trump's speech Wednesday. "I thought he was going to show us evidence not talk about Oprah wtf."
  • Determined to play their part in the foreordained events of Jan. 6, the mob descended on the Capitol.

Where it stands: The siege is now inviting two disparate reactions in the online far right.

  • Many on fringe platforms — including in the comments on livestreams broadcast from inside the Capitol building by figures including white supremacist Tim "Baked Alaska" Gionet — reveled in seeing their allies storm the Congress.
  • Others sought to distance themselves from the mob, saying without evidence that the rioters were actually Antifa and Black Lives Matter supporters posing as Trump fans to make the president look bad.

Of note: The group swarming the Capitol complex included familiar faces from the far-right web, among them Gionet; ex-YouTuber Nick Fuentes; and Jake Angeli, a fixture at some pro-Trump rallies who calls himself the "Q Shaman."

The bottom line: The pro-Trump internet willed into being a siege on the Capitol that successfully delayed the certification of Biden's victory.

  • Meanwhile, Trump, in a video post that Facebook and Twitter both took down, told the rioters, "We love you. You're very special."
  • The images and video of Wednesday's events are sure to live on in online far-right mythology as symbols of victory — and recruitment tools.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to remove a reference to livestreamer Dylan "Angry Viking" Stevens, who informs Axios that he was not involved in the swarming of the Capitol.

Go deeper

Trump supporter found with pipe bombs accused of plot to attack Democrats

Five improvised explosive devices that the FBI says "were fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly." Photo: FBI/Justice Department

The FBI believes California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and the Bay Area headquarters of Twitter and Facebook were targets of a man facing federal explosives charges, according to a criminal complaint.

Driving the news: Prosecutors charged Ian Benjamin Rogers after finding weapons including five pipe bombs, 49 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition following a Jan. 15 search of his Napa County home and auto repair business. His alleged goal was to ensure former President Trump remained in office.

Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

Marion County Forensic Services vehicles are parked at the site of a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Friday. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two assault rifles believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI said in a statement to news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.

U.S. and China agree to take joint climate action

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry waves as he arrives at the Elysee Presidential Palace on March 10, 2021 in Paris. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Despite an increasingly tense relationship, the U.S. and China agreed Saturday to work together to tackle global climate change, including by "raising ambition" for emissions cuts during the 2020s — a key goal of the Biden administration.

Why it matters: The joint communique released Saturday evening commits the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases to work together to keep the most ambitious temperature target contained in the Paris Climate Agreement viable by potentially taking additional emissions cuts prior to 2030.