A blanket of snow covers Washington DC at the moment – the heart of what is often framed as the world’s greatest democracy looks picture postcard perfect.
But beyond the hyperbole, and a year to the day since the event now known simply as “January 6th“, the reality seems troublingly far from perfect.
That day in January 2021 shook the nation.
A coup attempt? An insurrection? An effort certainly by supporters of Donald Trump to change the result of the presidential election.
Politicians hid, police were overrun, five people died.
Donald Trump, who had that day told supporters “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore” was the subject of impeachment proceedings.
He was banned from social media, and for a time he was an outcast in the Republican Party.
But 12 months on, Team Trump is as active as ever, as defiant as ever, and Mr Trump seems to have conquered the Republican Party from the bottom up.
“As President Trump likes to say, the real insurrection was the subversion of the American people’s will on 3 November,” Liz Harrington, the former president’s spokesperson, told Sky News.
“That was the theft – Jan 6 was the protest. And I mean, there were probably a million people in Washington. They went to hear a speech where President Trump said, ‘Go walk peacefully’.”
She was quoting the former president from a rally he gave outside the White House on the day of the Capitol riot.
Mr Trump had told the crowd at the start of a long speech. “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
At the end of the long speech, he told supporters: “And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore. Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavours have not yet begun. My fellow Americans, for our movement, for our children, and for our beloved country… And I say this despite all that’s happened, the best is yet to come.”
He continued: “So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I love Pennsylvania Avenue. And we’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try and give.”
Was that incitement?
“No,” Ms Harrington said. “I mean, that’s nothing compared to what people on the left say. And, you know, he’s speaking metaphorically.”
A committee from the House of Representatives has been tasked with investigating the events of 6 January 2021.
There have been 350 witnesses interviewed, 52 subpoenas sent and over 35,000 pages of records received.
Among the evidence published are text messages between some of Mr Trump’s closest allies – sent on and around 6 January.
It has emerged that Mr Trump’s own son Don Jr and Fox News presenter Sean Hannity urged the president to intervene as the scenes on Capitol Hill were beamed globally.
“He’s got to condemn this s*** ASAP,” Don Jr said in a text message to then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, adding: “He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.”
Over the year since that day last January, Donald Trump has been busy.
Despite being banned from Twitter and Facebook, he has remained in constant campaign mode, reaching his supporters via other means.
Many of them have also abandoned Twitter and Facebook for other more niche platforms.
At the rallies, he has continued to claim – against all facts but to audiences who believe him – that the election was stolen.
His critics called it the “Big Lie”. He has neatly repurposed the phrase and thrown it back at them.
“In our view, in my view, the Big Lie is that Joe Biden got 81 million votes – the most in history. And yet now he’s at… 22% of people want him to run again? How does that exactly happen?” Liz Harrington said.
So is Mr Trump still of the belief that he won the election in 2020?
“Yeah, absolutely,” she said.
Of the 65 post-election legal challenges brought by Mr Trump and his allies, all but one failed because they were unable to prove their allegations.
The one challenge that was successful did not involve fraud. It involved the time allowed to fix errors on mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania; it involved a small number of boxes and didn’t alter the result of the vote.
But Ms Harrington said: “No matter how many times you count the same stuffed ballot box, it’s still going to be a stuffed ballot box. Recounts are very different than audits.”
Audits have not found fraud either.
The dominant view among historians and academics – those who would be dismissed as “the establishment” – is that democracy itself in America is in a perilous state.
“Things are not fine, at least the way I see it,” says Thomas Zimmer, a German historian and visiting professor at Washington’s Georgetown University.
“Republicans did not conclude from the 2020 election that the experiment with Trumpism had failed. On the contrary, most Republican elected officials and the clear majority of Republican voters consider Joe Biden and the Democratic presidency as fundamentally illegitimate and they remain united behind Donald Trump.”
Professor Zimmer added: “Republicans up and down the country have arrived at a point where they look at 6 January as a blueprint, as a trial run, for the next election, as a way to hold onto power.”
Donald Trump is keeping everyone guessing on his intentions. Will he run for president again in 2024?
“That’s his decision to make, and as he likes to say, he thinks he’ll make a lot of people very happy,” Liz Harrington says
“He’s very engaged and wants to continue to fight on behalf of the American people.”
If a week is a long time in politics, then a year is an eternity. But that old adage notwithstanding, right now, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which Mr Trump does not get the Republican nomination if he wants it.
He may no longer be in the global limelight, but he continues to dominate the right of politics here.
A year since January 6th, from the bottom up, Donald Trump had positioned himself as the commanding force behind the Republican Party.
Next stop, the midterms.